From Victorian times, where two St. Valentines had gruesome endings, Valentine’s Day has morphed into the celebration we know today. Mass printing of Valentine cards in the 19th century started the great commercial enterprise that it has since become.
Red heart decorations, cupid with a bow and arrow, flowers, heart-shaped jewelry and, of course, candy are common sights in stores, commercials, magazines and newspaper inserts. Below are some preschool Valentine’s Day activities that go beyond the usual exchanging of commercial or personally created cards, and gifts of candy.
Activity #1: Colors and Feelings
This activity encourages children to think about colors as more than pigments but as representations of emotion and feeling. There are no wrong answers so affirm each child’s choice. Start off with a heart and ask what color it is and what emotion or feeling it represents. Why is it red (the heart is represented as red even though physically it really isn’t). Without a doubt the response will be love. Then hold up samples of four other common colors. Ask the children why they think the color makes them think of that. For example, black might mean sadness to some children. Without making any judgments, chart the colors and the emotions or feelings children attribute to them. End by reinforcing the notion that colors can mean different things to different people.
Activity #2: Who is my Valentine?
This is a fun activity where you ask preschoolers who is their Valentine. Be prepared for some surprising answers; perhaps a puppy or a favorite doll as well as the expected grandparents, Mom, Dad and even you – the teacher. Chart these answers so the children see the range of choices. Talk about the difference between romance and love and how love is broader than romance and covers many different people and things.
Activity #3: Holiday Symbols
Have your preschoolers tell you what celebrations take place throughout the year and write them on a white board or easel. They may come up with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, maybe July 4thor St. Patrick’s Day. If they recently attended a birthday or wedding, children may also mention these. Talk about how Valentine’s Day is represented by a red heart and then ask the children how the other celebrations listed are represented. Talk about how we use these representations as ‘shorthand’ for the celebration. When we see the representation we know what Holiday or celebration is being referred to.