Oh Valentine’s Day. The Holiday that is supposed to be about love, but is high on the list of hate for teachers all over the Nation. Teachers dread it- the parties, the food, the candy, the games, those cards…. managing all of that is enough to send teachers (who have probably just finished report cards and conferences) over the edge. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With making small adjustments, we can easily start to see little candy hearts in the forecast… Here are 4 surefire ways to make Valentine parties easy and enjoyable for EVERYONE, plus a bonus project for families that I do at home throughout the year.
- Have Students Help– We all know with the impeding excitement of party day, the morning is shot for any sort of real learning. So why not keep your students busy with decorating the classroom for the party? Also I would have your students create their “mailboxes” at school, rather than it being an at home project. It is never fun when a student forgets theirs or there is a huge discrepancy in materials making other children feel “less than.” Here is a great link to a blog post from Buggy and Buddy showing you how to create a hanging mailbox from a grocery bag. (it also involves an easy running stitch, so they can work on their fine motor skills as well!) Did you know as a teacher you can go into any grocery store and ask for paper bags for your class? I do this every year at the end of the year to send belongings home. Safeway, Whole Foods and Alberstons have all gladly given me bags for free. Score!
- Discover The True Meaning Of Valentine’s Day– Students love to hand out Valentines but can easily get caught up in what they are receiving. Valentine’s Day is about expressing your love and appreciation to others! Use the beginning of the day and turn it into a Service Learning Project. Children love to be creative, and when given free reign to do so can produce some amazing things! Start your day by selecting a group to create valentines for!
Here are a few ideas…
- A local nursing home always enjoys receiving Valentines from children.
- Is there a homeless shelter nearby? Maybe even one for families where Valentines can be directed to homeless children?
- Operation Gratitude accepts Valentines for troops overseas
- Contact a school in a different country/continent. See if they have a classroom that would be interested in starting a pen pal program. Spring is a great time to introduce a pen pal program. You can start with Valentines for their class!
- Printables Are Your Friends– I can vouch for my own kids that they love the Valentines they receive from their teachers way more than the ones they get from their friends. Bloomz has created a free printable for teachers! Just run to the dollar store and purchase a bag of $1.00 pencils, print out the printable, hole punch each side, and slide a pencil in each one! Done! A classroom full of valentines for $1.00! We have also created one for students as well. Check them out- they are door hangers and waiting to be decorated!
- Use A Planning Tool– Every once and awhile you hit the Room Parent lottery, and they are happy to plan the most amazing party this side of the Mississippi river! They are happy to handle everything, and all you have to do is show up! But other years- you just aren’t as lucky. Having an easy tool like Bloomz to plan all of your parties and send reminders to families makes events like Valentine ’s Day exponentially easier. Taking a few minutes of your planning time to build a sign up list for volunteers and items needed allows you to see exactly what is needed and what has been accounted for. Reminders are invaluable, so parents don’t forget what they committed to!
And, as promised- a little bonus! Family life can be hectic to say the least. Often times we take for granted the ones closest to us, and forget just how amazing they are in our lives. So our family created an Appreciation Station! Everyone in our family has a jar, and every day we think of one thing we appreciate about each member in our family that happened that day. It can be anything- from “I appreciate you saying thank you when I handed you a spoon.” To “I appreciate you helping your brother when he couldn’t get his shirt on.” Before everyone goes to bed, they get to read their love notes. It has become a huge positive thing in our lives that we all look forward to. A way to celebrate Valentine’s Day all year long. Here is a pic of our wall. Setting up your own Appreciation Station is simple. All you need are pens, paper, and something to put notes in for each member of your family. We decided to make it a focal point in our family room, but could easily be something small.