Love is in the air! One of my favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day, is just around the corner. While I could easily spend all day googly-eyed over my adorable sons and handsome husband, I also get warm and fuzzy feelings from celebrating the holiday with my students. Y’all know any reason to theme up my counseling sessions and classroom lessons is a win for me! Luckily, my kiddos love it as much as I do, and we have so much fun not only celebrating the day, but learning the true meaning behind what being a valentine really looks like. In this post, I will share some my favorite story books and activities that you can easily incorporate into your counseling practice to teach your students about love, kindness, and friendship.
Valentine’s Day Stories & Activities:
If you know me, you know that I love using story books to engage students, prompt discussion, and reinforce skills. I’ll start this post by sharing three of my favorite Valentine’s Day themed stories with you: “The Biggest Valentine Ever” by Steven Kroll, “Crankenstein Valentine” by Samantha Berger, and “The Day it Rained Hearts” by Felicia Bond. I’ll also describe some of my favorite Valentine’s Day activities along the way!
“The Biggest Valentine Ever” by Steven Kroll
“The Biggest Valentine Ever” by Steven Kroll (Amazon Affiliate link) is a story of two best friends named Clayton and Desmond. Before Valentine’s Day, their teacher asks them to make valentine cards. The two friends decide to work together to make one special card for their teacher. But, while making the card, Clayton and Desmond run into trouble. Clayton uses too much glitter, Desmond’s cutting is misshaped…and you can imagine what happens next! Frustrated, the boys yell, “I don’t want to make a valentine with you!” That night, they go home to talk with their families about their disagreement. Claytons’ dad and Desmond’s uncle encourage them to make the valentine together again, but the boys refuse. While making their own valentines at home, they each run into problems and realize that their cards are not turning out how they had hoped. The next day, Clayton and Desmond sit separately on the bus ride to school. As they get off the bus, Desmond trips and falls into Clayton. While they are getting up, Clayton asks Desmond if he wants to make the valentine together again. Desmond agrees, and the two buddies combine forces to make the BIGGEST and BEST valentine EVER!
I love how relatable the conflict in the story is for kids, and the way it models problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, and cooperation. I would highly recommend this story to read aloud in a classroom lesson, or in counseling with students who are having trouble getting along.
Valentine’s Day Feelings Game:
A great follow-up activity to “The Biggest Valentine Ever” story (or any of the books reviewed in this post!) would be my Valentine’s Day Feelings Game. To play, students read themed scenario cards and imagine how they would feel in each situation. Then, they “decorate” the valentine with one or two heart emojis that express their feelings. I love playing the digital version of this game on a smart board with whole groups, and the printable version at a table with small groups! It’s great for identifying feelings, sparking discussion, and reinforcing positive social skills.
“A Crankenstein Valentine” by Samantha Berger
Let’s face it, not everyone loves Valentine’s Day. Mushy-gushy and lovey-dovey doesn’t appeal to all of us…but I’ve found a story that will! “A Crankenstein Valentine” by Samantha Berger (Amazon Affiliate Link) tells the story of a boy who turns into Crankenstein: the grumpiest of grumps on Valentine’s Day. He “yechs” at any and all Valentine’s Day-related activities. Heart-shaped sandwich? “Yech!”. Chocolate candies? “Yech!”. Valentine’s Day Garland? “YECH!”. But, when he finds a friend who feels just how he does about Valentine’s Day, everything changes for the better! The silliness in this story (and hilarious illustrations!) really capture students’ attention and make them giggle! And I love this book’s message about how finding common ground with a friend makes us feel seen and validated, and can turn our whole day around!
Valentine’s Day Feelings Chart Freebies:
Do your students LOVE Valentine’s Day, or are they little Crankensteins? To help them identify and express their feelings, I created two free feelings charts for you! After the story, students can identify their feelings about the holiday by using my Valentine Feelings Chart and Hearts Feelings Chart. You can also use these posters to check in with kiddos in counseling sessions, and post them on your door for students to reflect on as they walk by!
Torn Paper Heart Activity:
Another fun way to work on feelings identification and expression with a Valentine’s Day theme is this torn paper heart activity. All you need for this activity is torn pieces of construction paper, a cut-out heart, scissors, glue, and the feelings guide. I added the printable materials for this activity to the Free Resource Library on my website (if you’re not already a member, just sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive an automated email with the password to access it!) This activity starts with the educator reviewing each feeling with students and the color assigned to it (i.e. yellow = happy, red = angry, blue = sad). Then, students glue little torn pieces of construction paper onto their heart that match how they’re feeling today. This hands-on activity will let educators gauge how students are coping, and prompt a check-in with students whose hearts are filled with angry, sad, or nervous feelings.
“The Day it Rained Hearts” by Felicia Bond
“The Day it Rained Hearts” by Felicia Bond (Amazon Affiliate Link) is a story about a little girl named Cornelia Augusta. One day, it started raining hearts, and Cornelia went outside to catch them. Knowing that it was getting close to Valentine’s Day, she decided to use the hearts she caught to create valentines for her friends. She thought very long and hard about each of her different friends and made unique valentines to fit each one. While it never rained hearts again, Cornelia still managed to find ways to create special valentines for her friends for years to come.
While reading this story, I love letting my kiddos predict who each valentine will go to. In the end, they enjoy seeing how perfectly each valentine suited the different animals! After the story, we create Valentine’s Day cards for our classmates, teachers, and family members.
Valentine’s Day Kindness Notes:
Here are some Valentine’s Day Kindness Notes that are a perfect follow-up to the story, or even a school-wide kindness initiative for Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 14th – 18th!) I included cactus, llama, and robot themes…which one is your favorite? I’m partial to the llamas myself!
Valentine’s Day Feelings and Coping Skills Lesson:
The last Valentine’s Day activity I would like to share with you is my Valentine’s Day Feelings and Coping Skills Lesson. This lesson includes all sorts of digital and printable activities that teach students to identify and cope with 8 emotions…all with a fun Valentine’s Day theme! I love reviewing all of the 8 feelings on the smart board and letting students act them out. Then, I model and we practice together 3 coping skills to manage each emotion. Closing the lesson with the candy hearts feelings craft is a great way to check their understanding, and also makes for an adorable bulletin board or hallway display!
My very favorite part of this lesson is the “Fill the Candy Hearts Jar” feelings check-in. Students choose heart emojis that express how they are feeling and place them on the jar. This is a simple but fun way to gauge how students are feeling and coping – especially those kiddos who are hesitant to speak or share!
I hope that this post highlighted some ways you can not only celebrate Valentine’s Day, but promote the more important themes of love, acceptance, kindness, and friendship! I would love to hear how you used some of the resources I have shared in your own counseling program (as well as any other favorites that you’ve found!). Please take a moment to comment below! Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!