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Context Clues, Valentine's Day

5 Fun and Focused Activities for Valentine’s Day

I don’t know about you, but February always has me stressed. Pouring over benchmark scores and counting the number of weeks left before the state test has a way of doing that to me. On top of that, I am supposed to use class time for a party? Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved celebrating with my littles. However, anyone that knows me can attest to my disdain for wasted time in the classroom. That’s why I sneak in reading instruction and practice into every second of Valentine’s Day, including the party. The best part? The kids just see it all as a part of our Valentine’s Day celebration.

Here Are 5 Activities to Keep Valentine’s Day Fun and Focused:

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Valentine’s Themed BINGO

bingo

You can turn literally any BINGO game into a Valentine’s themed game by using Hershey’s Kisses or other candies as your “markers”. So, dust off that old reading strategy BINGO game you have in the cabinet and start playing. This makes for a great game during the party and has your students reviewing strategies and concepts. This Valentine’s Day Synonym and Antonym BINGO game can be purchased here.

 

Read and follow a procedural text to create a Valentine’s Day Craft!

Kids love origami and Pinterest is full of How-Tos for making Valentine’s Crafts, so you’ll have plenty of options for this. I found a procedural text for creating heart-shaped bookmarks online that I love by DIY Candy. I did need to do a bit of copying and pasting to create the format that I wanted to present to the students. Use the procedural text to gather your materials and make your own bookmarks/crafts, all the while discussing how each part of the procedural text helps you understand the procedure. The students end up with a super cute new craft and have fun reading along the way! The kids have so much fun creating their bookmarks that this could even be done as a party activity!

heart bookmark

 

Use a SCOOT Activity to Review

I am a sucker for using scoots to review! I love that it gets the kids up and moving, and they love it too! Turn this into Valentine’s Day fun by finding some cute Valentine’s themed task cards. There are plenty of moderately priced task cards on Teachers Pay Teachers. The Valentine’s Day Context Clues Task Cards pictured below can be purchased here.

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“We Love…” Writing

I love creating bulletin boards and displays with my students’ work, ideas, and creations. As a reading teacher, I go with the “We Love Books” theme. Students chose a book that they love and write about why they love it inside a heart. This can go as in-depth as you want. I like to have them include quotes, character descriptions, connections, and themes. Once they complete their writing, they are invited to add a heart background and decorations. These are then added to a display outside the classroom. The parents love seeing all the book recommendations when they come for the class Valentine’s party and it gives the kids great ideas for what to read next. This may be the easiest one to implement. All it takes is some construction paper, a pencil, and some markers/crayons. The Teacher Studio has also created a bulletin board set if you’d like to have it all ready to go for you.

we love books

 

Reader’s Theater

Reader’s theater is a great way to help students practice their reading fluency. Plus, parents love watching the performances during the party! You can write a reader’s theater script from any Valentine’s Day read aloud. One of my favorites for the younger grades is Arthur’s Valentine by Marc Brown. It’s a pretty easy one to create a script from as well.

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Encourage Reading Over the Break with Book Talk Lunch Parties

You already set the foundation by sharing your passion for reading with your students throughout the year. Now you just need to add that extra little push to extend that passion through the holidays. A simple, stress-free way to do this is to hold “book talk lunch parties” when you come back in January. Eating lunch in the classroom with you is always exciting. Use that excitement to get your students pumped up about reading by creating a buzz about upcoming book talk parties. This gives kids an extra incentive and helps them see that reading and talking about text is rewarding and fun.

First, make sure they have access to quality texts over the break.

It can be a little bit scary to let your students bring home the books from your classroom library, but it is worth the risk. If this is something that you are uncomfortable with doing on a regular basis, try making an exception for winter break. You can keep track of which students have which books by having them fill out a check-out form. 

Consider including information about the local public library in your newsletter or send home a separate flyer about it.

Create  your book talk groups.

I suggest splitting your class into groups of four or five for these talks. That way you can each spend a good deal of time talking about your reading. However, if you have a large number of students, you may want to consider making larger groups to avoid spending every day eating lunch in the classroom rather than the lounge. Think about the amount of time you are willing to commit and adjust accordingly. Assign a day for each group to eat with you in the classroom when you come back to school in January. Be sure to mark down which students are invited to which day because the invites are sure to get lost over the break.

Invite your students!

This isn’t a bribe and students shouldn’t need to meet any requirements in order to join in the fun. Everyone wins when everyone is included. Students who did read over the break will get to share their opinions about what they read with their friends. Students who did not read will get to hear their excited peers share great books and may be inspired to read a few themselves. Click on the image to download your FREE invitations!

color lunch book talk invites

Make sure the students understand your expectations for the “book talk parties”.

Let the students know what you would like to talk about during these book talk parties when you invite them, but be sure to keep it light and fun. This can be as simple as saying, “I’m so excited to hear about your favorite parts of the story!” or, “I can’t wait to hear what types of connections you make to your reading!” The goal is to get the kids to understand the purpose of the “parties” without making it sound like work.

Host the book talk parties!

Now’s the fun part! Your students are already so excited to see you again and will be thrilled to eat with you. They will want to tell you about everything they did over the break, including their reading. Let them talk about their reading AND their lives. Add a little something special to the “party” by bringing cookies or another sweet treat.