FIVE Unique Valentine's Day Lessons to Target Essential Skills in Secondary Classes
Valentine's Day provides an opportunity during the month of February to focus on one of the most powerful topics in literature and art: LOVE. Love is as polarizing as the Valentine's Day holiday itself: some love it, and some hate it. Nonetheless, we can harness the power of this emotion and the popularity of this holiday to create lessons for students in secondary classes that both captivate our students while targeting essential reading and writing skills.
Here are FIVE Valentine's Day Lessons and Activities to target key skills in grades 6-12:
1. Famous Love Letters-- Bespoke ELA
Using the lens of love letters written by famous people provides us a unique insight into famous relationships. The "Famous Love Letters" activity by Bespoke ELA is an activity in which students read famous love letters and make observations about how the writers use language, literary and rhetorical devices, and imagery to convey messages about love. This bundle includes letters from famous figures such as Beethoven, Napoleon, and Katherine Mansfield, among others. In this lesson, students are to close read famous love letters, synthesize their findings by debating which love letter is most effective in communicating its message about love, and then write their own original love letters using the "Love Letter Task Cards" to add literary and rhetorical devices to their writing. This lesson is a unique and high-interest way to make Valentine's Day relevant to literary studies.
2. Valentine's Day Escape Room-- Oh the Humanities
Puzzles, codes, and ciphers, oh my! Students love escape rooms. This Valentine’s Day Escape Room keeps kids engaged, thinking critically, collaborating, AND learning the truth about Valentine’s Day and the people behind it. Students use comprehension, inferencing, and vocabulary skills to complete a series of tasks, earn secret codes, and escape the room. This escape room offers so many options, and you don’t need any locks. You can make this escape room a group activity or an individual challenge, and you can hide the tasks, offer hint cards, and even put up signs before the event to get students excited. So many possibilities! Are your kids ready to learn the truth?!
3. Pyramus and Thisbe: Reading Guide, Symbolism, Theme, and Connections-- Reading and Writing Haven
I've always enjoyed sharing the story of "Pyramus and Thisbe" with my high school students on Valentine's Day. The poem is short enough that it can be covered in a day, and its themes are timeless. Forbidden love transcends pop culture, history, and classic literature. My freshmen enjoy making connections between "Pyramus and Thisbe" and other famous relationships, like Romeo and Juliet, Shrek and Fiona, and Paris and Helen. I always begin with a close reading activity, but we amp it up with an analysis of symbols and underlying messages.
4. Teach Identifying Themes in Literature-- Amanda Write Now
Teaching students how to identify themes in literature can be challenging! It takes a lot of abstract thought which students may not even be capable of yet. Why not use the Valentine’s Day holiday to your advantage? Often, themes in literature involve relationships, and what better time to reveal this to students than on Valentine’s Day?!?!
In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to discuss their favorite books and movies. Students will then identify the friendships that exist and grow within these books and movies. There are many, many movies and books that definitely incorporate the theme of friendship. Check out this lesson for a FREE lesson to help students make thematic connections!
5. No Fluff Lesson Ideas for Valentine's Day-- Mud and Ink Teaching
In this blog article from Mud and Ink Teaching, you will find SIX lesson ideas to use in your classes for Valentine's Day or throughout the entire month of February! These ideas include: having a debate about the nature of "true love," talking about violence in dating, speed dating book chats, talking about trust, hosting a haiku "death match," and creating celebrity/ novel nicknames. These activities will keep students engaged while keeping the rigor in the classroom. Check them out!
What Valentine's lessons do you use in your secondary classes?
We'd love to hear from YOU! Be sure to check out the FREEBIES section on TeachWriting.org for great FREE lessons and tools to support writing instruction in your classes!
About the Author
Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA. She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas. Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.