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How to Survive Valentine’s Day in the Classroom

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

One of my colleagues in the science department would always schedule a “lab” involving loading the kids with chocolates on February 14th and then wondered why no one wanted to sit with her at faculty meetings. Many teachers simply write off Valentine’s Day as a lost day.  It’s the prescription for a “movie day” if I’ve ever seen one.

That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some Valentine-themed activities for each of the subject areas that can help harness this energy for the causes of good.

English/Language Arts – Poetry (obviously)

It may seem obvious, but I would always schedule my poetry unit to conclude around February 14th. By the time I was done explaining to the kids how poetry wasn’t just about love and we had studied the most depressing pieces I could find (hint: Sylvia Plath’s life and death will get any teenager’s attention), they were ready for some love poetry. They can obviously write their own as well, giving an outlet to students from the moody to the maddening.

Math – The efficiency of candy packaging

Gather some packages of Valentine’s candy. Have the kids measure the packages and then the amounts of candy contained within the package. Which candy company is the most efficient with their packaging? Are there ways to improve each box? If you really want to kill some time, have the kids try to explain why boxes of Toblerone are triangular prisms.

Science – In love, the brain is more important than the heart

I never did understand what my colleague’s candy lab accomplished, but here’s another idea. With some planning, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity for your discussion of brain chemistry, particularly what happens when someone falls in love. Perhaps some knowledge of endorphins, testosterone, and norepinephrine will put their crazy hormones in a bit or perspective for them. I’m sure you can find some great MRI videos to help illustrate your points as well.

History – The truth of St. Valentine

Next to New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the most celebrated holiday throughout the world. It is also one of those “mythbuster” holidays that history teachers live for. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore how the meaning of the day (and the man) have been perverted over the past 1500 years or so. For example, there are three or four possible martyrs to whom the name Valentine might refer to, and some weren’t very romantic at all.