Monday, January 27, 2014

Ten Valentine's Day Activities for Beginning Readers

One of my favorite holidays to celebrate in library programs is Valentine’s Day, especially with elementary students. Today’s “Ten Things” post focuses on Valentine’s Day themed activities to share with beginning readers.
  • Read It’s Valentine’s Day by Jack Prelutsky.
    The poems in this book are short, funny, clever, and easy to read. They celebrate the fun of Valentine’s Day without being too sappy, and they focus on the day-to-day events that are important in the lives of early elementary kids.  
  • Make a Valentine word cloud.
    Ask kids which words they associate with Valentine’s Day and make a list on a posterboard heart. If they’re slow to open up, start the list for them, then watch as their brains begin to make connections. Soon, they’ll be shouting out everything from “Ew, kissing!” to “I have a boyfriend!”
  • Write conversation hearts.
    Provide a sheet of blank hearts and have the kids write messages to their friends, family members, even their pets. For added fun, provide some actual candy hearts to eat while they write.
  • Do a choral reading of Will You Be My Valentine? 
    Provide each child with a copy of this wonderful printable easy reader created by Kathy Romano and Christina Murphy. Read it aloud as a group, using the illustrations as clues to help decode each animal’s name. Have the kids add to the story using their own favorite animals.
  • Draw a Valentine portrait.
    Ask the kids to choose who would they like to be their Valentine, and have them draw a picture of that person. Help them write a few sentences describing their Valentine. 
  • Write messages in Valentine cards.
    There’s always room for making good old-fashioned Valentines! Provide lots of art materials, if that’s your style, or simply provide plain paper and colored pencils. Be on hand to help kids spell the names of their friends, or to help kids brainstorm what they’d like to say to the people they love. 
  • Read Valentines from fictional characters.
    Write up a set of Valentine cards addressed to well-known characters from their friends. Have the kids guess who each one is from. (Some suggestions for fictional pairs who might exchange cards can be found here.)
  • Match rhyming words - one on each half of a heart.
    Create a set of hearts in Word or Publisher. Print rhyming words onto both halves of each heart, then cut them apart and laminate. Have the kids try to match up the broken hearts by finding matching rhymes. 
  • Make a love list.
    Kids can practice writing with this simple list activity from Apples and ABCs, which provides an opportunity for the child to write the names of everyone he loves. (I originally found the idea via Pinterest.)
  • Play Bag of Verbs (Hearts Edition).
    One of my favorite activities to do with beginning readers is “Bag of Verbs.” This is just a brown paper bag filled with action words. Kids each have a turn to draw from the bag, and everyone acts out each motion. To make it more festive for the holiday, simply print your verbs on paper hearts, or write them on foam hearts with a Sharpie.
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