Valentine’s Day may mean romantic dinners and roses for American adults, but for kids, it’s all about the classroom parties where they play heart-themed games, eat lots of sugar and exchange valentines with their classmates.
The problem? Those parties typically don’t feature much social distancing. And we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
“Valentine’s Day definitely has to be different due to COVID,” said Nicole Daniels of Pewaukee K3-8 school Christian Education Leadership Academy. “But we felt it was very important for students and families to still be able to celebrate such a positive holiday focused on love, kindness and friendship.”
At CELA, students will still be allowed to hand out valentines — in a more orderly fashion than usual to allow for social distance. They’ll still have treats — store-bought and pre-wrapped rather than homemade. They’ll enjoy fun activities — playing games, decorating valentines and watching movies at their desks.
“The kids just go with the flow, and they’re just so grateful to have a celebration, even if it’s different,” said Daniels. “It’s a nice reminder to be grateful for even the very little things.”
Of course, kids at CELA have the benefit of being in-person, so their classroom Valentine’s Day party can happen, even though it will be different. For many kids, though, virtual learning has canceled the parties.
Even if your kids are learning from home at the moment, they shouldn’t miss out on the chance to celebrate friendship and love. Here are some ideas to make Valentine’s Day special for them at home.
Craft your own: Make extra-special, over-the-top cards this year to send to friends and family. Break out the glitter glue, pompoms, pipe cleaners and stickers, and let your kids make the gaudiest, glitziest valentines they’ve ever made.
A virtual exchange: Organize a pod of friends and family to do a valentine exchange. Send each other valentines through the mail, and organize a Zoom party so everybody can open them together.
A secret admirer exchange: Bring the Secret Santa concept to Valentine’s Day. Have one person secretly assign a person to family members and friends. That person has to send a valentine (along with a treat or two) to their secret valentine. Have a Zoom party so everyone can guess their secret admirer.
Make your child feel special: Embrace your inner child, and buy a few of the cardboard valentines that come in boxes of 24 that are usually handed out at classroom Valentine’s Day parties. Make sure to buy the ones with your kids’ favorite animated characters on them. Write some special notes on a bunch of them, and let your kid open one each hour all day long.
A heart-shaped treat buffet: You can, of course, include conversation hearts and other heart-shaped candy. Then all you need is a heart-shaped cookie cutter or two and some creativity. Some easy foods to create hearts out of include cookies, Rice Krispie treats, sandwiches, Jello Jigglers and fruit like watermelon or kiwi.
Don’t forget the fun drinks: Have your kids wrap juice boxes in construction paper and decorate with heart cut-outs and stickers. Or make a special punch out of fruit punch and rainbow sherbet. Let the kids drink the punch from fancy glasses.
A chocolate taste test: You can make it simple by buying a huge box of chocolates. Choose some of the best-looking chocolates, and cut each into smaller pieces so everybody can take a taste. Or you can buy different types of chocolates (like Dove, Hershey Kisses, different types of candy bars) and let everyone try each. Vote for your favorites, and see who wins.
The games and activities
Activities with candy conversation hearts: Use them as markers for bingo, have a competition to see who can stack them the highest, play a game to see who can toss the most into a cup a few feet away, use them to make art in a collage or blindfold people as they taste them to see who can correctly guess flavors.
Movie time: Watch a movie with a theme focused on relationships or friendships. Any Pixar movie fits the bill for this (and it will make everyone sob).
A loving art project: Have your child draw a picture of someone they love. It could be a friend, grandparent, teacher, whomever. Then cover any remaining space on the paper with words to describe why that person is loved so much. Mail the end result to the person.