In my experience, students love Valentine’s Day-the colorful hearts, sending Valentines and most important, the candy. Incorporating Valentine’s Day in your classroom is great way to keep in the energy up in the dreary winter months. Here are some ideas for incorporating Valentine’s Day in the classroom…
1. Adapted Books
Adapted books are a great way to incorporate Valentine’s Day or any holiday in your classroom. In my classroom, I have a combination of The Autism Helper books, as well as a few I have created. Check out Cupid, Cupid, What Do You See? and How Many? What Color? What? Valentine’s Edition. You can also check out Sarah’s free book companion for The Twelve Days of Valentine’s Day. For more of Sarah’s book freebies, take a look at Valentine’s Books with Free Book Pictures and Questions. If you would like an easy way to create your own books, check out LessonPix. While it is $36 per year (only $3 per month!), you get access to so many different pictures and making your own custom seasonal activities is a breeze! Also, if there is a picture you want for your classroom, but they don’t have it, you can either request it or create your own custom symbols!
You can use adapted books in so many different ways and adapt them to different levels. You can use them at an independent station or a paraprofessional-run station. You can use them at teacher time to introduce holiday specific vocabulary or help students get ideas for their writing. I have used them for students to find specific letters or words. If you are creating your own adapted books, you could have high level readers and writers in your class write a story for the emerging readers in your class. Adapted books are a great way to include all learners and introduce any holiday unit!
2. Academic Work
Take this opportunity to make academic and working on goals more fun by using Valentine’s Day themed worksheets, file folders and manipulatives! I love The Autism Helper’s Wh- Question Seasonal Units. Wh- questions are something every one of my students needs to work on, so incorporating it with Valentine’s Day can promote more engagement. I even think something as simple as using heart manipulatives for tasks can give sorting and counting activities new life!
For more academic work ideas, check out February Links & Ideas. This post is jammed packed with academic resources for all group levels! And if you like freebies (who doesn’t?), take a look at Valentine’s Following Directions Coloring Worksheets.
3. Organize a Party
Obviously, kids love parties and while parties can be a lot of work up front, it provides an enjoyable learning experience and opportunities to develop skills. Including cooking and games as part of a class party helps with their life skills and social skills. Teaming up with another teacher or your related service providers can help when planning a party. Having an adult in charge of different stations is helpful, especially if you split the cost and responsibility of coming up with the activity.
Students love a cooking project- it’s functional, motivating and fun! I did cooking a lot my first year teaching in the cluster program because it was structured, kids wanted to do it and I was still finding my bearings teaching in a low-incidence room. Cooking can feel like a difficult thing to start, especially if you don’t have all the appliances or equipment, but there are a lot of easy recipes with minimal utensils and appliances while you build your stash of kitchen supplies. Also, if there are a lot of dietary restrictions in your classroom, you can always create a non-edible treat such as Play-Doh. One year, we made Valentine’s Trail Mix (see pictures) and had the students write the recipe so they could recreate it at home. Check out these two freebie recipes- Strawberry Shakes and Valentine Ooze.
5. Valentine Exchange
Having a Valentine exchange is a fun way to incorporate more writing and social skills in the classroom. We have students bring in a box of Valentines to complete at school as part of our life skills lesson. We help students create a list of their classmates and teach them about crossing off the names as they write the Valentines to stay organized. Having the students give the cards to each can be an enriching learning experience. For some students, matching the names to the bag and putting the Valentine in the bag helps with basic matching skills and motor skills. Some students may be able to have a brief conversation exchange when they are handing out their Valentines. For students who write more, you can print off Valentines with lines so they can craft longer messages to their friends. Some students may be able to make their own cards. This is such a great activity because you can tailor this experience to the levels and the needs of the students in your classroom.
I hope you got some ideas for activities that you can use in your classroom for Valentine’s Day. Check out more Valentine’s Day materials and resources from The Autism Helper. Please share your ideas or favorite materials for Valentine’s Day below!