I love finding creative ways to bring the holidays into the classroom. With February 14th around the corner, here are my top 10 favorite Valentine’s Day inspired activities to use with middle school English students!
Practice Grammar by Editing Cupid’s Social Media Status Updates
Let’s be honest, grammar is not the most exciting topic for middle schoolers. I try to make grammar instruction fun during Valentine’s Day by having students correct Cupid’s social media updates. Students read the update, find the errors, correct them, and give reasons for the corrections.
It’s amazing how much more engaged students can be in finding errors by simply adding a twist to the context. I use them in task card format for a class station or writing center, but you could also easily use one a day as a bell-ringer for the whole class on the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Although I didn’t intend for these to be a competition, students usually want to be the first to find all the errors. I must say that, as an English teacher, it is quite satisfying to see students get so excited about punctuation! Check out this activity by clicking here.
Writing the Perfect Break-Up Letter or Text Message
Try an anti-Valentine’s day twist by getting your students to write the perfect break-up letter or text message! After students learn about what a perfect break up letter looks like, they develop two fictional characters and create a deal-breaking issue in their relationship. Have students do some pre-writing to develop the couple’s relationship, personality traits, and relationship issues. Then, after they create an outline for the letter or text message, they can start writing the heartbreaking message. Try this in your classroom by clicking here.
Set Students Up On An Online Date With A Book
Help your students find a novel to read by sending them on an online date with a book. Scroll down to learn how this activity works.
How it works:
a. Students get a random book (you can preselect high interest ones) and create an online dating profile based on the book cover, the title, and the blurb on the back of the book or inside the jacket cover. The profile will include a physical description, words to describe the book, a brief plot “about me” summary section, an ideal reader description, and an area to describe who should “check the book out.”
b. The teacher creates a class bulletin board to display all of the profiles (mine says “Fall In Love With A Book – see above). Students find one that interests them and take it down. They have found a match!
c. Students read some of the novel during silent reading, examine their first impressions, and decide if it is a love connection or if it will end in heartbreak.
Learn about how to set this up in more detail by reading this blog post.
Practice Finding Figurative Language in Valentine’s Day Examples
Cover common figurative language and literary devices used in poetry or fiction by having students locate examples in Valentine’s Day inspired stories or examples. I have students read original passages that include figurative language and color code the examples they find. The terms I use are metaphor, simile, personification, alliteration, oxymoron, and onomatopoeia. You can check my figurative language stories out by clicking here.
Don’t have time to write your own examples? Try having your students write an original Valentine’s Day inspired sentence that includes one figure of speech. Collect them all and make your own practice worksheet with their examples!
Read a Short Story About Love
One way to bring the holiday in your classroom is to introduce a romantic or love-themed short story to your students. One of my favorites is The Chaser by John Collier.
The story is about a young man named Alan who is desperate to make a woman named Diana fall in love with him. So desperate, in fact, that he is willing to use a love potion!
Not only is this a story that students love, it is also useful in teaching inferential thinking. Usually, the story ends with some students snickering in total understanding while others are completely confused. This provides a great opportunity for students to go back to the text to read between the lines and infer to fully understand the plot. I also have students complete a post-reading creative assignment called “Abby and Andrew’s Advice Column” where they give advice to Alan from a male and female perspective. Click here to check out my resources for this story.
Help students understand resume structure by developing one for Cupid! This assignment asks students to imagine that they are cupid, and they are developing a resume to apply for a job as head matchmaker.
The resume template is used as a guide, and students fill it out to demonstrate an understanding of cupid’s skills, personality traits, interests, and qualifications using much detail and creativity as possible. It is also a good idea to have students do some research on cupid before getting started on the assignment. This way they have some more detailed information to include.
Download this activity for free by clicking here.
7. Read about Valentine’s Day History and World Traditions
Another way to bring Valentine’s Day into the middle school ELA classroom is to have students learn about the origins of the holiday. Students are always surprised to hear the story of St. Valentine who performed wedding ceremonies in secret because Claudius, the Emperor of Rome in the 3rd Century, outlawed marriage. After students have learned about the history, I have them imagine that they are St. Valentine and write a journal entry from his perspective. I ask them to write about how he feels about the ban on marriage and what he intends to do about it! Check it out by clicking here.
Students are also eager to learn about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world. You could do this as a research project or give students readings about how the holiday is celebrated in different countries. I use South Korea, China, Brazil, and Romania. Students are always fascinated to learn about South Korean’s White Day, the Chinese Qixi Festival, or the Brazilian Dia dos Namorado! I use it as an opportunity for reading comprehension practice, but you could also have students choose a country and present their findings to the class. See the resources I use by clicking here.
Do you teach students who speak English as a second language? Use the holiday to introduce those students to English Idioms that deal with love and relationships. These expressions can be so confusing to an ESL learner. Help clarify by teaching them what it means to be head over heels, to go Dutch, to have a crush, or even to pop the question and tie the knot! Find it by clicking here.
Have students complete a Valentine’s Day mad lib to practice the parts of speech. This activity always gets students laughing and having fun. After they are done, it’s also really funny to share the different stories aloud or post them on a classroom bulletin board. I use a secret admirer love letter template that usually yields some pretty hilarious responses. Try mine by clicking here.
10. Infer Information from Valentine’s Day Inspired Writing
Inference can be a challenging skill for students to master. One way to get students thinking inferentially during the Valentine’s season is to have them infer information from Valentine’s inspired text messages. After reading text conversations, students can infer information from what is said. They should consider who the two people are, what their relationship is to each other, where they are, and what kind of personality they have. Try this in your class by clicking here.
What’s great about this activity is there is no right answer! Students respond based on their own background knowledge and experiences. This means no marking for you, but lots of great discussion in class.
Thanks so much for reading. If you liked these activities, many of them are included in my Valentine’s Day Reading & Writing Bundle. Please note: Not all the resources mentioned in this post are included in the bundle. Please read the description of the bundle carefully before purchasing. If you have any questions at all, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any suggestions for other Valentine’s Day themed resources for ELA, share them by commenting below!