“Which candy hearts do I give to Sarah? How about to my friend John? Or do I skip the candy hearts to John and just give them to the girls? But what if I give Jane ‘you’re cute’ but don’t want her to think I like her?”
We are sure that this scenario has played out in the minds of fourth and fifth grade students across the nation for years. “What do I give each classmate for Valentine’s Day? What message do I want to give each peer? Do I give everyone the same, or do I give that ‘someone special’ a different Valentine?”
As upper elementary school teachers, we have seen it all in our teaching careers. Chocolate candy hearts, special homemade cards, even a bouquet of roses! It has, at times, been uncomfortable, not only for us the teachers, but for the students receiving those gifts as well.
So, how do you get through Valentine’s Day with those eight, nine, ten, and eleven year-old students? We have come up with some tips that has still made it fun for kids, but has taken the emphasis off of the romance.
- Valentines Boxes
We allow our students to get creative and design their own Valentine’s boxes! This takes the focus off of the actual Valentines cards and more on the construction and design of the actual box at home! Some past creations have been: minions, ipods, robots, giraffes, hockey goals, and so many more! We even make up silly awards to give to the boxes such as: best construction effort, silliest design, unique opening, and scariest to name a few.
- Student Party Committee
Get your students involved in a fun way by letting them come up with the classroom decorations and food needed for the party. They love to decorate the room by cutting out hearts, and making paper chains. They also love to be in charge of what treats come in the day of the party. But be careful. Make sure to manage the treats and also to make sure you have utensils and disposable plates/cups/napkins too!
- Show a Movie
Instead of playing games centered around Valentine’s Day that can get out of hand, pick a movie to show after the Valentines are opened. Your class will calm down, and also be entertained by the movie. We can only show “G” rated movies in our school. But there are tons out there that are great. Even showing Gnomeo and Juliet would be good for this party. We even let our students move around the room and sit by their friends. They love it.
- Open All at Once
To make the party move on a little faster we have our students open their Valentines at the same time. This helps avoid any uncomfortable feelings that students may have if they had to open them one at a time in front of their peers. It is also nice to have the students say “thank you” all at once.
A great alternative to even having a Valentine’s Day party would be to scrap the traditional exchange of cards in exchange for bowling! We have taken our classes to a bowling alley in the past on this day and the students have loved it! It takes the set up and tear down of a party out of your hands. It also eliminates students having to buy Valentines for each other. There are other possibilities as well. Maybe your class could volunteer at a homeless shelter for the day, spend time at a retirement home, or do something for local veterans. The possibilities are endless.
We hope we have given you some tips that you can take away and implement in your classroom this year. Please let us know in the comments section what you do with your students on Valentine’s Day.