Valentine’s Day Week

Valentine’s Day Week in Room 209 was eventful in many ways! We took a short break from our Winter and Polar Inquiry to focus on some other learning adventures. We added in some Valentine’s Day-inspired invitations to play, we visited Winterlude as a class, we held a “Colours of Love” Healthy Snack class party and we participated in the school Dance-a-Thon – whew!

Join us in reflecting back on memories of this exciting week!

Valentine’s Day-Inspired Invitations to Play

Although I’m not big on themes, I don’t mind throwing in more “themey” activities every so often so long as they are culturally meaningful to the students, are open-ended in nature and do not flood the entire program or room. The children in our room almost always have options and have many opportunities to practice making choices. Alongside the Valentines Day activities you see in these pictures, were many other activities or invitations to play and learn that coincided with our Winter & Polar Inquiry (those photos will be reserved for the following post!). In my opinion, it really is all about balance when it comes to planning and setting up invitations in your classroom. You want them to reflect the interests, values, realities and abilities of your learners. If you’re going to present something that is not culturally-familiar to the children, you need to introduce it properly and with sensitivity and ensure they understand your reasoning for presenting it to them. In my case, the children in my room all celebrate Valentine’s Day and are quite familiar with it. Moreover, they all expressed significant interest in Valentine’s Day, in preparing for it and in looking forward to it, which is why these activities ‘made sense’ for us. Of course, each classroom is different.

To clarify for those who aren’t familiar, “invitations to play/learn” are simply displays of toys, play materials, sensory tubs/bins/tables, loose parts, art materials, etc. organized in inviting ways that attract children and provoke creativity and open-ended play.

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Behold: Our classroom Love Potion! Children were presented with this new sensory invitation early in the week to bring in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, which is coming up that weekend. Inside the bin was pink coloured water, red and pink water beads, plastic heart-shaped accessories, heart-shaped boxes, a heart-shaped muffin container and heart-patterned buckets.

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Children had fun experiencing the beads between their fingers and in collecting all of the various accessories. They loved making patterns and designs in the muffin containers and seeing how many of each heart accessory there was.

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We had red raspberry-scented play dough that contained heart confetti as well as pink gak. The children used heart-shaped cookie cutters and scissors to manipulate the materials in different ways.

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There was purple and pink goop in bins for the children to experience for the first time. They loved squishing it and seeing how slowly it would drip down from their hands. We used different adjectives and vocabulary to increase their oral language development.

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We provided many materials for the children to explore and create as they wished. There were word cards to support their spelling and Valentine’s Day picture books.

Above, the children are pictured exploring open-ended arts materials to make Valentine’s. If we want to develop children’s creativity, increase their problem-solving skills and boost their confidence, open-ended, child-directed arts activities are what we should be aiming for most of the time. I’m not saying there is never a good time to do a craft – there certainly is (sometimes they ARE fun or are teaching us a certain skill)! However, before we choose a craft, we need to consider what we are trying to achieve through the activity. We need to ask: What skills are we trying to have our learners practice or develop by doing this activity? If the skills are cutting or pasting, is there a better way to accomplish these? What purpose is this activity serving? Is this a time filler or something to simply ‘rush out the door’ so parents or passer-bys in the hall think we are celebrating a holiday ‘properly’ (or at least how they THINK we should be celebrating it)? Who is this pleasing? 

Check out the excerpt below from a document by Cathy Abraham from Hatch Early Learning called, “Open-Ended Art Experiences) on teacher-directed art projects versus child-directed art projects. When I first came across this about a year ago, it really spoke to me and really made me think. Finally, the ideas I had always had regarding crafts were put into words that totally reflected how I felt.

Retrieved from: https://www.hatchearlylearning.com/?wpfb_dl=349

Retrieved from: https://www.hatchearlylearning.com/?wpfb_dl=349

To read the full document and to get some excellent ideas for how to harness your child’s or students’ creativity, please visit this PDF!

Our Class Trip to Winterlude

Well, it was a grand success!! A huge thank you goes to the wonderful parent volunteers who helped make this trip possible (and safer!). The children had such a great time going down the ice slides and listening to the music. Photo cred also goes to one of my parents Neale!

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Our “Colours of Love” Healthy Snack Class Party

Another huge thank you to our lovely families for providing us with this beautiful spread of healthy snacks in Valentine’s Day “colours of love”! We thought this was appropriate as we sought to honour the love we have for our bodies on this special day by feeding them with fresh vitamins and nourishment. We were unsure at how the children would react to this kind of a party. To our surprise, they quickly adapted to the idea and ended up LOVING it! They all wanted second and third helpings and we had no problem allowing them. Some even tried new fruits or snacks they had never experienced before (e.g., dried cranberries). Almost every bit was eaten and it was a real success!

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On the day of our party, children also brought in their home-made Valentine’s Day mailboxes and then passed out their cards. We made the mailboxes family, at-home projects to promote collaboration and to make it more meaningful for the children. They were so excited to show off their mailboxes and everyone enjoyed seeing their friends’ creations. The photos below are just a small ‘snapshot’ of what was presented but I have to admit, I got a little too caught up in the fun of the day to take many pictures!

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Thank you for all of the lovely Valentine’s Day cards Madison and I received in our mailboxes (the fox and giraffe pictured below)!

 School-Wide Dance-a-Thon

This was also the week our school held it’s Dance-a-Thon to raise money for a new outdoor classroom and playground. We had tons of fun and it was a great way to finish off the week. Check out these dance moves! …

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Our DJ got us moving to some old classics like the Macarena and the Oktoberfest Chicken Dance!

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Everyone had their own dance style to show off!

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All smiles until we were officially worn out (bottom right photo).

…What a week!  

Stay tuned for my next post for an update on our Winter & Polar Inquiry … coming soon!