Here is a short homeschool unit study on Valentine’s Day to help you motivate and interest the kids this February!
The History of Valentine’s Day: Social Studies
In the Catholic church, there were at least three different individuals by the name of Valentine who were recognized as “saints.” According to one legend, Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Though the ruler, Claudius, outlawed marriages — on the notion that single men were better warriors — St. Valentine continued performing marriages. Because of this, Claudius ordered him killed. Other legends say he was killed for helping people break away from the Roman Catholic Church. Another legend suggests that he was imprisoned and fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, to whom he sent a love letter signed “From your Valentine.” Regardless, all legends indicate that St. Valentine was a martyr and died for what he believed in.
At the end of the 5th century, February 14th was declared “Valentine’s Day.” Eventually, the holiday came to be associated with love. Much later (during the Middle Ages), it was thought that mid-February was the beginning of the bird-mating season, adding to the idea of “love” for Valentine’s Day. Written valentines didn’t emerge until around 1400, and the first valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife, which he wrote while imprisoned.
Having read the paragraphs above, have your students write their answers to the following questions:
- According to various legends, who was St. Valentine?
- Based on the text, what can you infer the word “martyr” might mean?
- Why do you think mid-February was chosen as the time to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
- What is the effect of the various Valentine’s legends on what we have come to think of as “Valentine’s Day” today? In what ways have legends helped shape these ideas?
Valentine’s Day Language Arts
- Use and review some of these Valentine’s Day-themed words for spelling or handwriting practice:
- Choose some of these books to read with your kids:
- Love is My Favorite Thing by Emma Chichester Clark
- The Berenstain Bears’ Valentine Blessings by Mike Berenstain
- Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter! by Mercer Mayer
- How to Send a Hug by Hayley Rocco
- The Ultimate Valentine’s Joke Book For Kids by Sadie Gardner
- Valentine’s Day Mad Libs: World’s Greatest Word Game by Dan Alleva
- Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime by Barbara Park
- The Good Deed Crew and the Secret Valentine by Kendra Parks
- Get your students writing with one or more of these Valentine’s Day writing prompts:
- How can you show love to your family members?
- When was a time when you felt especially loved?
- What do you think makes a good friend?
- What would be the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
- What is your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
- If love was a color, what color would it be and why?
- Imagine a world without love. What would it be like?
- Plan your future wedding without a budget.
Valentine’s Day Science Experiments
Valentine’s Day is the perfect day just to relax and do some themed science activities like these:
- Valentine’s Salt and Ice: This easy experiment is fun for all ages. Use a silicone heart mold like this one, fill it with water, add red food coloring, and freeze overnight. Remove the red ice heart from the mold and add it to a shallow bin to collect the water as it melts. Have your kids add ice cream rock salt to the heart and see what happens. If you listen closely, you can hear the ice cracking as the salt permeates it. Why does this happen? Use this experiment to discuss the science behind ions and how the sodium and chloride ions in the salt break apart the ice and turn it from a solid into a liquid.
- Fizzy Hearts: This is a great way to let your kids test the wonder that is a baking soda and vinegar reaction! This activity requires heart soap molds, vinegar, baking soda, red or pink food coloring, a spoon or dropper, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, glitter! Create a vinegar/water mixture (I use about 60% vinegar and 40% water to increase the reaction) and add the food coloring to the liquid mixture. Add baking soda and glitter to the heart mold, begin dropping the vinegar mixture, and enjoy the fizzy reaction!
Valentine’s Day Crafts
- Create an Abstract Art Valentine: This is a fun, messy activity that has a beautiful result! Simply layer paint spatter, patterns, stickers…whatever you want to use! (Painting on cardstock works best.) When you’re satisfied with the painting, allow it to dry, then cut out Valentine’s shapes and use them to decorate homemade cards to give to those you love!
- Make Valentine’s Day Sock Gnomes: This project looks complicated, but can be completed in about 20 minutes! To make this adorable craft, you need one solid color sock, one patterned sock, one piece of faux fur, one wooden bead, one foam cone, and a hot glue gun. Cut the solid sock just under the heel and pull it onto the bottom of the foam cone. Cut a beard shape from the faux fur and glue it on the sock-covered cone. The top of the beard should be about halfway up the cone. Glue on the wooden bead nose. The patterned crew sock will be the gnome’s hat. Starting an inch or so below the entrance to the sock, cut it at an angle from one side to the other, ending just below the seam at the top of the sock to make the hat. Either sew or glue the sock where it was cut. Place the sock hat on the top of the gnome and decorate it as you desire (add felt hearts, use puffy fabric paint, etc.).
- Create Lipstick Art: This simple and fun activity will be a hit with little ones. All you need is bright red or pink lipstick, cardstock, and a picture frame. Let your kids decorate the cardstock with kisses, cut it to fit the frame, and you have an adorable table decoration!
Valentine’s Day Activities
- Have a pink pancake breakfast! What feels more like Valentine’s than pink food?! Kick off the day with a festive breakfast of pink pancakes or waffles. You could use red food coloring or strawberries in the batter, but either way, add a noticeable pink hue. Even better, try shaping your pancakes into hearts!
- Make cards for each other & grandparents. We all know how much the grandparents adore cards from their grandbabies. Let’s grab the cardstock, glitter, stick glue, and markers — and get to work!
- Decorate sugar cookies. While baking or decorating sugar cookies is usually associated with Christmas activities, it sounds wonderful for Valentine’s Day as well! Perhaps choose a red and pink theme for the frosting, icing, and sprinkles. While you are finishing up with the oven, your kids will have a blast creating their own decorations! As a bonus, it would be even more fun if you used heart-shaped cookie cutters!
- Create heart & snowflake decorations. I always associate snow with Valentine’s Day. Thanks to growing up in the mountains, snowfall was consistently heaviest on Valentine’s Day. If it feels like a wintery holiday to you as well, decorate your house with snowflake cutouts — as well as hearts or bows, of course!
- Go ice skating! If you have an ice rink nearby, take a P.E. day and grab your skates! This could be a fun opportunity to get your blood pumping and enjoy the fresh air, or even begin teaching your youngest children how to ice skate.
- For additional indoor activities, download our FREE Valentine’s Day Puzzle Pack Printables!
Valentine’s Day Learning Videos
Valentine’s Day on Sesame Street
Blippi’s Valentine’s Day Sink or Float
Ten Easy Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids
How to Draw a Heart Monster
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Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been a part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional school and homeschool became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, editor, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children in Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience to help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected].