The sharing of valentines by young students has achieved a status as a cultural icon. Tharrington Primary School Pre-Kindergarten students recently combined Valentine’s tradition with learning.
A total of 33 students and their family members made the boxes for the annual sharing of valentines by classmates and also made valentines that will be given to local nursing home residents.
“This is the first time we’ve done a project with Valentine’s boxes,” commented Lead Pre-K Teacher Denise Ward. She explained this was one of many ongoing family involvement events held at the school. In December, students made gingerbread houses with family members.
“Sometimes we’ll send home items like paper pumpkins for family members to decorate,” said Ward. “The family will find things they already have to decorate them. Students feel proud of their creation and it ties home and school together for them. At this stage, it is important for pre-kindergarten students to learn thorough play. When they make their valentines they get to use their fine motor skills and recognition as well as teamwork with their families.”
Ward said another important component of the project was students getting to decide how to decorate their valentines. Families and students were not given any specific directions on decoration. Some phrases for the valentines for nursing home residents were posted on a board if students wanted to use them.
“Glitter went over very well,” said Ward. “We had the supplies set out for them and their families and the kids got to choose what and how they would decorate. This is one of the very few occasions at their age where they are given the freedom to choose. The activity is good on many levels. This also shows parents their children in a new context. They see them as they are on their way to who they will become in the world.”
Ward said the project originally was directed toward troops but organizers found out a large quantity of valentines were being sent by other groups and decided to focus on family. Pre-kindergarten students also got to discuss how persons show love and making others feel special.
“We talked with them about different ways they express love and even asked them what love meant to them. We got such a variety of responses. Students said love to them meant getting a present to getting a hug and a kiss from their mom.” She said a video was shown to students teaching them how to say love in a total of 50 different languages to give them an opportunity to hear how the word sounds in other cultures.
She said the school’s emphasis on family activities seeks to make parents comfortable with being involved in their children’s education and also connects school and home so learning takes place in both. This feeling of being a community was strengthened by other staff members who quickly answered the call for 32 shoe boxes for the classes.
“It was wonderful to see how quickly the staff responded to our request in the newsletter,” said Ward. She said another lesson students were taught was that being told no to something doesn’t mean they are not loved. Teachers explained that being told no was not because their parents are mad it was they are looking out for them. Pre-K Lead Teacher Beth Welch, and teachers Laurie Chilton, Betty Snow and Kandice Norman also helped with the project.
“It’s all a process and it gets everyone on the same page from Pre-K to twelfth grade,” added Ward. The project is one of five family activity events held in the school year with the last event typically being a picnic on the school grounds.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.