Valentine’s Day might be my favorite homeschooling holiday. Really. It doesn’t have the baggage of many other holidays, and if you homeschool you can do anything you want with it. It also has the potential to break up our lessons at a time of year when we could all use a little shake up. I have a ton of lesson plans built around Valentine’s Day, both as an OT and as a homeschool mom. So, let me share a few ideas with you!
This year, we won’t be going to any parties, but there are still tons of ways to make Valentine’s Day a fun homeschooling day.
Nothing gets you into the spirit of a holiday quite like decorating. Making decorations for Valentine’s day can be complicated or easy. Either way, it will work on your child’s fine motor and bilateral coordination. Kids who are young or have delays, can just work on cutting out red and pink hearts. If a child struggles, fold the paper for them, and draw a line for them to cut on to create the half heart, that when opened reveals a whole one. Keep in mind, the more your child can do for themselves, the more they should do. However, helping just enough so that your child can make a good heart, will make them want to keep trying.
If your child is past just cutting out hearts, there are more ideas to choose from. Crocheting, knitting, sewing, and clay can all be interesting ways to create hearts to hang up. You can also give your child some large paper or canvas and encourage them to make an art project to display.
Offer to teach the child whose art is all black how to wear eye liner. Experimenting with makeup is great for fine motor skills, and can be a fun way to prepare for your Valentin’s Day zoom calls.
A Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt is a great way to work on reading skills. Following directions and reading comprehension are both in use here. Simply make a set of clues your child will follow to find their valentine from you! For my kids, this item could be candy, a new box of crayons, or a small art kit. But the fun of it is when I don’t tell them exactly where to look. Instead of saying “Look in mom’s closet.” I might tell them to “Find mom’s summer shoes.” Other hints include, “The next clue is very cold, and hiding with the ice!” Then the child has to go look in the freezer.
Keep in mind your child’s reading level and ability to figure out riddles when you write your clues to follow. To do this with multiple children at once, I recommend color coding the clues, and reminding children to only read the clues in their color.
Consider having your child write valentines to send to family and friends or a local nursing home. If they can work on learning how to address the envelop, even better!
While writing their own valentines is wonderful, there are other ways to use this holiday for kids who struggle with handwriting. If your child struggles but wants to send many cards, I suggest buying a box of ready made valentines and having your child work on signing their name to the ones they will give out. Printing is fine, but this is a great chance to work on a cursive signature for older kids.
If your child isn’t yet ready to write, have them work on learning to draw a heart to sign their valentines with. Or just draw lots of hearts on everything today! Stamps and stickers with hearts also abound and are great for working on those fine motor skills. You can also let your child use stamps or stickers to add their name to cards. A small set of alphabet stamps can make this fun and easy.
If your child is ready for more, there are many valentine choices. You can have them work on copying poetry, or even writing their own poems to put on home made valentines. Give your child an example like “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you!” as a jumping off point to either copy or change to suit them. Valentines are a wonderful place to practice cursive or try out calligraphy and experiment with handwriting. The more your child plays with handwriting, the better their regular writing will become.
As I have said many times before, I love food! And any chance to incorporate a food-related activity into our learning is hard for me to pass up. One of my favorite valentine traditions is making cookies, cakes or other special foods. Get your child involved in reading the recipe and doing the cooking. This is both a life skill and a great opportunity to practice combining motor skills and direction following. A heart shaped cake pan or cookie cutter can add to the fun, but isn’t necessary.
While it can be fun to watch Romeo and Juliet with your teen for this holiday, there are a lot of movies to choose from. Ask your child to choose a movie they think is a good Valentine’s day movie and see what happens. You can list suggestions or just see what the streaming service you have suggests for words like “love” or “valentine.” No matter what they pick, movies give you a chance to talk to your child about life experiences they’ve never had. A good chat after the movie can include talking about: “What is love?” “What do you do when you are in love?” “How do you know if someone is just pretending to be kind or in love?”
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy a day of something different. Your normal curriculum will be there tomorrow.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.