Adopt an Organization
Assign each class a different group of people to do something nice for; students learn about the organization as well as celebrate the holiday. For example, 3rd graders might make Valentine’s Day cards for nursing home residents while 4th graders work on crafts together with patients at a children’s hospital.
Personal Touches for the Food Pantry
Put together goody bags for your local food pantry. Balance it out by having each grade be responsible for bringing in a different item—heart pencils, lollipops, etc. Include a small handmade card from a student inside each bag, and ask some parents to assemble and deliver them. Borrow some of these ideas for adding a Valentine's Day message to food items, keeping in mind that most food pantries do not accept perishable items.
Sweetheart Dance and Donations
February is a great time to hold a father/daughter or mother/son dance (or both!). Charge a nominal admission fee, then donate the proceeds to the American Heart Association or another charity of your choice.
Mementos From Students
Ask for donations of festive trims and other materials such as cardboard to make a framed “class picture” for parents using the small individual photos of students. Or get some heart-shaped candy tins and decoupage the student photos to the outside, then fill the tin with the teacher’s favorite sweet.
Lunch With Loved Ones
In coordination with cafeteria staff, invite parents and other loved ones to join students for a special lunch with loved ones. Have guests sign in and make name tags noting how they know a student (Jordan's Dad or Ella's Aunt). Set up a photo booth with props and keep costs low by having a volunteer take photos of loved ones with each lunch guest's mobile phone. No photo printing or emailing needed!
Learning and Laughing
Have fun (and reinforce lessons on basic parts of speech at the same time) with some Mad Libs-style games in class or at a family event. In small groups, write a story with a Valentine’s Day theme, then replace certain words as instructed—three nouns, two adverbs, three adjectives, etc.—with blank underlines. When all the stories are done, fill in the missing words for each one as a large group. Read the original story followed by the new one!
“Love Letters” Game
Fill a cup for each student with uncooked pasta in alphabet shapes and call out or write down a Valentine’s Day word. Give a small prize to whoever spells each word first using the letters in their cup.
Better Than Valentines
Some teachers have used this activity to make all their students feel extra-special: Instead of passing around store-bought valentines, send home a class list of names and ask students to write one nice thing about each of their classmates on the list. Combine the comments for each student onto its own sheet and pass them out on Valentine’s Day.
As a variation, one teacher got her class even more involved by having them turn the comments into “valentine posters.” In class on Feb. 14, each student drew out a classmate’s name, then got an envelope filled with all the comments (typed up first) for that person. They pasted the comments to a piece of poster board and decorated it with craft materials like stickers and paper doily scraps.
Originally published in 2011 and updated regularly