books · celebration · Read Aloud · writing workshop

Waving the White Flag on Valentine’s Day!

There are some days in an elementary school teacher’s life where the white flag must be waved.  Halloween. The day before holiday break. Pajama Day. Crazy Hat Day. And, of course, Valentine’s Day.  This year, our Valentine’s celebration fell on the Friday before our mid-winter break, which is a lovely week off from school. It happened to also be the 100th Day of School and children were encouraged to “dress like they are 100.” Friday morning, my classroom was buzzing with children in red and pink and children with white wigs and canes and granny glasses, carrying bags of cards, candy, and cartoon character valentines. “I’ve got one for you, too,” some assured me as they delivered their treasures. One student hand-made cards for all her classmates, writing personal messages appropriate for each friend inside. The manilla file folder valentine holders we made and decorated earlier in the week were quickly stuffed to the brim and this was all within the first twenty minutes of school! The rest of the day before us, with energy and excitement in the air, I had to admit that the lessons in our current units of study would not be appropriate for this day. Here are some ways we marked Valentine’s Day and snuck in some meaningful and enjoyable writing:

pink blobfish

Valentines for the Blobfish

My students were first introduced to the blobfish in this video from Jess Keating‘s Animals for Smart People.  They were fascinated with the blobfish and were delighted to find the book, Pink is for Blobfish, waiting for them on my rocking chair on Friday morning! The book is all about “the world’s perfectly pink animals.” The blobfish, though, is the star of the show. Having recently been voted “the world’s ugliest animal”, my students were feeling sorry for this creature. We read that there was a contest to make valentines for the blobfish, to assure him he is loved despite his title as ugliest animal (several of us thought the naked mole rat, also featured in the book, far more deserved that title). The students wrote valentine cards to the blobfish after we finished reading the book. I wrote one, too.

blobfish cards

vday card blob fish

my valentine for blobfish

Writing Responses to The One and Only Ivan

Since mid January, I’ve been reading aloud Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan to my third graders. (If you haven’t read this book yet, please give yourself a gift this Valentine’s weekend and read it!) It is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and it raises so many important conversations. Since our normal routines were a bit off, I had more time to read aloud. With a lump in my throat and tears threatening, I read the last page of the book. There were sighs and cheers- such a special moment when a community of readers has gone through a journey together and reached the happy ending! After, we watched some videos of the real Ivan (here and here) and read the nonfiction picture book,  Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, also by Katherine Applegate. I created a Padlet for students to write their reactions to the book. Padlet is a great digital tool with a lot of versatility. Students enjoy sharing their thinking and writing with other classmates around a common topic.

the one and only ivan

Valentine Boosters

The PTA at my school has a nice tradition of creating a booklet of Valentine wishes for students, written by parents, teachers and staff.  This year, I wrote an individual Valentine’s Day message for each of my students for this publication. When it was distributed today, I was very touched to see that the class had sent me a booster, too:


Quote for the Day

One of the class jobs in my room is the “Chief Inspiration Officer” or CIO. This person selects an inspiring quote for us, writes it on our glitterboard, and shares it with the class during the morning meeting. The quote selected today was perfect for Valentine’s Day, and every day, really.

quote for vd

Even though I had to wave the white flag for our usual learning activities, Valentine’s Day was still a day of laughter, learning, literacy, and love in the classroom. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!





12 thoughts on “Waving the White Flag on Valentine’s Day!

  1. Awww, the blob fish valentines nearly made me tear up! What a lovely activity. Teaching them about unusual animals, empathy, and showing others you care 🙂 I think that’s what Valentines Day should *really* be all about.

    “I don’t really know you, but I love you. P.S, even if others think you’re ugly, I don’t” – !! Too sweetl

    And little kids dressed up as 100 year olds is hilarious lol. This sounds like a really fun week 🙂


  2. I love all the fun and activity- but I am struck by and really love the be 100 for the 100th day of school. I can think of all kinds of things to do with that – the history alone would be great fun. This is a great way to celebrate. Thanks for sharing.


  3. I think your white flag is synonymous with a flag of empathy! I am only jealous I didn’t think to handle the day in this way. Not only did you pause for your kids to share inside your room, but you also paused for them to see how these feelings extend through books and writing. I am bookmarking this idea for next year!
    Kathleen you are a true inspiration inside the classroom and in through your MANY online communities! SO proud to know and work beside you, virtually!


  4. A few years ago the teachers at my school were given the opportunity to reevaluate the number of parties we had every year. Valentine’s got the ax, because it had become a day of greed and sugar. We now have gratitude activities for a small part of the day, for example, the 4th graders each wrote a letter thanking someone for specific things the student was grateful for. Your Valentine’s Day, though, sounds so uplifting! I plan to borrow some of these ideas. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Teachers who know their students, who’ve built relationships know when to “wave the white flag.” What a wonderful way to stop and see what could work. Thanks for letting us peek in on your day.


  6. White flag days are the days they remember the most! We finished Ivan last week in my 2nd grade classroom and did the same thing…watched videos of Ivan and read the nonfiction book. No padlet here, though. I did have several children write opinion letters (we’re in book 3 of WUOS) about Ivan. I posted one to Katherine A. on Twitter, but don’t really get Twitter and am not sure she even saw it!


  7. Creative, thoughtful & literary! You deserve your booster & we are lucky to have you & your passion too! Have a great day & week!


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