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Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate love, kindness, and friendship. With love being the focus of so much great literature, this holiday naturally lends itself well to the English Language Arts classroom. There are lots of high-interest ways to combine curriculum with creative Valentine’s Day activities to engage your middle school ELA students without sacrificing content. Here are five of my favorite Valentine’s Day activities that you can easily implement in your classroom right away.
The first Valentine’s Day activity I want to suggest involves getting your students to write a break-up letter or text message. For this activity, your students will develop two fictional characters whose relationship is coming to an end. They will write out detailed information on their personalities, how they met, and what their relationship is like, for example. Crucially, they will also develop a reason for the breakup and decide who, of the two characters, wants out. Then, students will create an outline of the break-up letter (or text message) before composing a final good copy!
To really make the most of this activity, I like to begin with a class discussion on what makes for a strong break-up letter. You can get students to discuss their thoughts in groups for this, and you can share your own thoughts with them as well. I like to tell students to be upfront about the intention to break up in their messages. I also encourage them to be specific about why they feel it is best that the relationship come to an end. This heartbroken fictional character deserves honesty at the very least!
I discuss this activity in more detail in another post. Click here to read that now!
Let’s be honest, it can be difficult to get middle school ELA students excited about grammar. This year, try using the spirit of Valentine’s Day to spark your students’ love for fixing writing errors—even if this love only lasts one day!
For the Editing Cupid’s Social Media activity, your students will read Cupid’s social media posts, find the errors, correct them, and then provide reasons for their corrections. Below are four different ways that you can use this activity with your students.
Did you know that in South Korea, the fourteenth day of every month marks an unofficial love-related holiday? Or that on February 14, it is often the men who traditionally receive Valentine’s Day chocolate from women?
South Korea’s Valentine’s Day traditions are fascinating and so are other celebrations of love around the world. The Qixi Festival in China, Dragobete in Romania, and Dia dos Namorado in Brazil are all examples of other love-themed holidays that are absolutely worth learning about!
One of my favorite Valentine’s Day activities to do with middle school ELA students is to learn different Valentine’s Day traditions around the world. I like to focus on these four countries in particular: South Korea, China, Romania, and Brazil. What I do is give students nonfiction articles that explain Valentine’s traditions, practices, and customs of different countries around the world. Then, I have them answer comprehension-based questions.
This activity can be done in groups or independently, but it also lends itself well to the jigsaw method. To do this, put students in groups of 4 and make each of them responsible for one of those four countries’ traditions. Then, as a group, they can piece together their knowledge (like a jigsaw puzzle) to get a bigger picture of the different Valentine’s Day traditions around the world.
The next Valentine’s Day middle school ELA activity I want to suggest is what I like to call Crumpled Hearts Writing. This fun collaborative writing activity is sure to get even your most reluctant students putting pencil to paper. Here’s how it works in four simple steps…
TIP: If you can manage it, distribute this activity on pink paper! This will help make those crumpled hearts look more like proper Valentine’s Day hearts.
Have you read “The Chaser” by John Collier? This short 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. Collier’s story lends itself especially well to Valentine’s Day activities.
“The Chaser” focuses on unrequited love. More than being an apt Valentine’s Day tale, reading “The Chaser” also serves as a great way for students to develop important ELA skills. Whereas Collier does not provide all of the details, the story makes for a good way to practice inference.
I like to start off my lesson by asking students to make a prediction about the story based on the title alone. Then, I ask discussion questions that will relate to the text, such as “Do you think money can buy love?” I choose a few students to read out loud, getting each of them to play different roles in the story. I stop to ask questions throughout and encourage students to use their inference skills to more fully understand the story.
Afterward, I engage students in a post-reading discussion before moving on to Abby’s Advice column, an assignment that allows the student to play the role of a newspaper columnist who gives advice to the main character.
Finally, I also like to engage students with Valentine’s Day-themed reading mysteries, such as the mystery of the missing love letter and the mystery of the secret admirer. Both of these are highly engaging close reading mysteries that challenge students to look for text evidence, infer information, and read more closely.
The premise of the mystery of the missing love letter is as follows: Amanda absolutely loves Jack, but she is far too shy to tell him how she feels. In an effort to rid herself of the heartache, she writes him a love letter. She has no intention to let anyone (let alone her crush) see what’s written in the letter, but when she sits down to do her homework at night, she realizes the love letter she wrote that day is missing from her pencil case!
The premise of the mystery of the secret admirer is that Patricia dreads going to school on Valentine’s Day. She finds Cupid’s holiday to be an annoying and excessive demonstration of romance, of which she has none in her life. However, walking into class that morning, Patricia is surprised to discover a mysterious heart-shaped box of chocolates sitting on her desk.
For both of these mysteries, it’s up to your students to use their close reading and inference skills to crack the case.
There you have it! I hope you can incorporate one or more of these Valentine’s Day activities in your middle school ELA classroom. Looking for more tips and resources for your classroom community? Click here.
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