Since I do not spend an inordinate amount of time on Holidays (some Holidays we only really celebrate the day of), I thought that I would write an entry on things we do and have done in the past for Valentines Day for any one who is scrounging around for ideas.
I don't really like the traditional Valentine's Day parties that involve a lot of sweets and a lot of commercialism (although what more can you ask of a holiday that was practically invented by commercialism then, well, commercialism). Instead we spend the day celebrating friendship and celebrating the things that they love.
1: Most everyone probably already does this but I let them sort the Valentines they bring in into their friends Valentine's Day "mailboxes," (some years mailboxes have been boxes, some years decorated bags, and my very first year we made hearts laced together all around the edges, except for the top that they would slide the Valentines into). As most 4 year old preschool classes, they can all read each others names, and so have a great time delivering mail by themselves.
2: Letter Delivery
In the past I have equipped them with miniature mailboxes, "letter bags" and baskets, envelopes and cheap Valentines day stationary in the "dramatic play" center (although truthfully any number of "centers" involve dramatic play, and this activity never stays quarantined to that area). They love making "love letters," Valentines, and pictures for their friends and playing mailman/ women to deliver the precious cargo. I should mention that every year the class invariably starts using the shopping cart to more effectively taxi their mail.
3: Valentine's Ice
This past week we have been experimenting with ice in our sensory area and will continue to do this on Monday, adding a little bit of a Valentine's sentiment to it to satisfy their interest in the Holiday. They have had fun the last few days extracting toys from ice that we have let freeze both in the freezer and outdoors. So for Valentines day We will experiment with both extractable and non extractable objects.
The non-extractable pan is made by filling a large pan half way with water and letting it freeze while making colored ice shapes (in this case I am using circles and hearts), once both are frozen I put the shapes on top of the sheet of ice and put it back in the freezer, meanwhile I put I pitcher of water in the freezer. When the water in the pitcher starts to form a thin layer of ice on the top, I break through the ice and pour the water in with the shapes on the sheet of ice. When the water is about a third of the way to the top of the shapes I stop and put it back in the freezer. Once that water freezes (it will be higher than you poured it because, remember, water is one of the few substances that expands when frozen), I add more water so that it nearly touches the top of the shapes. Once that freezes the shapes are either submerged or just level with the surface of the water. I prefer them to stick out of the top just a little bit so they can feel the shapes.
For the extractable bin I have some beads, blocks spelling LOVE and some Valentines cookie cutters. For this, just add water and freeze.
When they play in the ice they use hammers and screwdrivers from their tool set, metal spoons, and some rationed rock salt to extract (or try to extract) objects.
4. Play "A Tisket a Tasket,"
And yes, I actually use a green and yellow basket that I save from Easter! Although, in a pinch I have just tied a green and yellow ribbon around the handle. There are instructions for this game here after the song- to spare myself writing it all out; we actually use a letter instead of a handkerchief like these instructions suggested in this document.
5. Lipstick kisses
This is actually an idea from Lisa Murphy's book the OOey Gooey Handbook. Buy some cheap lipstick, sometimes they have some at dollar stores or Big Lots or other such stores- preferably enough for each child to have one, but if not, set up q-tips prepared with lipstick on both ends before hand. Let kids put lipstick on themselves (make sure to have a big mirror or some hand mirrors around), and them let them smooch the paper! Clean up is easy with baby wipes.
6. Loving Sentiment Cards
For this activity I have a large paper heart with each child's name on it. On each heart I write one thing that I really like about that child (Bev loves to paint, Sam always works really hard to finish puzzles, Sally always greets teachers with a smile), and have all the other teachers in the room do the same. Then the children are offered opportunities to tell a teacher something they really like about their friends (sometimes it's things like love her shoes, sometimes I like when he plays with me, he's funny, or I just love him), In years past I had them say something about each of their friends, other times I just let them say something about whoever they want to (or no one if they don't want to at all), at the end of the day I send it home for them to look at with their parents. All of the kids in preschool are pretty close, almost like a little family, so every child always ends up with quite a few loving (and sometimes comical) sentiments left on their heart.
7. Valentines Brunch
Instead of having parents bring sweets which gives kids sudden bursts of non constructive energy and then causes them to crash and be grumpy and moody the rest of the day, I have parents bring in ingredients for our brunch... cinnamon raisin bread, eggs, juice, syrup, and fresh or frozen strawberries that I add a tiny bit of sugar to (the school provides milk and celery and carrot sticks because they are part of the would have been lunch that is no longer served because we are having an 11:30 brunch in it's stead).
8. Put a little love in the air
For Valentine's Day I create a CD from music that I already have at home: A collection of love songs from Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and others. I love the love songs of that era, and they like to bubble along with the music all day.
9. Put a little love song in their heart
We sing some fun love songs through out the month of February or whenever they are requested there after (and sometimes make a CD for the parents of the kids featuring these songs, but I can't tell you if we are doing it this year because parents read this blog). Some of these songs include "Skinamirinky " from the Elephant Show
"I love you" from Barney
"L is for the way you look at me"- jazz love song
"Two little bugs"- by Shari Louis
"A Frog went a courtin'"
They love all these songs- of course you could do any number of catchy love songs with them and they would love them equally, these are just some suggestions.
10. Write about love
Many, many times a week, a month, a year, the children get to dictate stories or similar things to teachers in my room and we write them down. For Valentine's day I love to ask them "what is love?" and write whatever they say. You get some hilarious answers and some tear- jerkers too. I will never get my first year teaching that a little boy told me "love is my baby brother"- his baby brother had been born only weeks earlier. I usually keep a copy for their portfolio and send a copy home.
(For another, more structured, idea you could make heart shaped stained glass which you can find instructions to here).