Very soon it will be Valentine’s Day when we get the chance to tell a special person that we love them. The story of Valentine’s Day comes from the Roman Christian martyr, St Valentine and using the story is a great way to introduce this series of activities to your students.
The real Valentine was a Christian priest and at the time of persecution of Christians, he angered the authorities by performing Christian marriage ceremonies, flouting a law that said young. Romans should not marry, for being single made the men better soldiers, more willing to risk their lives. Valentine was eventually caught and imprisoned awaiting execution but whilst he was in prison his prayer led to the blind daughter of one of his judges having her sight restored. The judge, on hearing the news, immediately converted to Christianity. As the day of Valentine’s execution drew near, he received visits from the judge’s daughter Asterias and it is said that they fell in love. On the actual day of his execution, with his last visit from the girl over, he wrote one last message, signing it; From Your Valentine, a message that is repeated on cards and letters to this day. The story is obviously about romantic love but the time of St Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity to consider other kinds of love and how we can express it.
Activity One – Love Your School – Suitable for Years Reception to Two
To understand that school is a community, like a family and set in a ‘home’
To recognise that we all have a responsibility to ensure that school is a safe, friendly and welcoming place
Write on the board the word ‘Unloved’ and ask the pupils what it means. You should get simple answers such as that nobody loves someone. You may also get some answering about an object. Now show the children pictures of old houses, old cars or even old furniture and alongside it write the word again. Ask them what it means in the context of the pictures. Explain to them that to look good and like new, objects and places need to be looked after; loved even.
Ask them who ‘loves’ the school and they’ll say the head teacher, the caretaker and probably the teachers. Then ask them who else should love the school and you may be told ‘the children and the parents’. How would they feel if the school was ‘unloved’? What might it look like, what might it be like to learn there? For this you can ask them to work in pairs or groups to write a description of an unloved school and what it might be like to learn there.
Returning to your school, ask them what kind of things should be done to ensure that the school is loved. Can they make a list of rules for students, teachers, parents and others to ensure that the school looks as loved as the students? Once they have compiled their list, ask them to decorate it and then laminate it for the rest of the school to see and follow. They could even do a presentation to parents and other pupils at assembly or present to the governing body.
Activity Two – Love the Environment – Suitable for Years Reception to Two+
To recognise that the local environment is part of the regional, national and global environment
To recognise that we have limited opportunities to look after our environment
We’ve worked with the pupils on helping make sure our school is loved but what about the local environment? Begin by showing them an envelope that you have addressed beforehand. Add your name and a fictional address then follow it with the county, the country, the continent, the world, the solar system and finally the universe.
Ask the pupils if they understand why you have added so many parts to the address. Encourage them towards telling you that your home is part of a street, the street is part of the town, the town is part of the county etc. Now tell them that because your ‘environment’ is part of larger environments, loving your environment will help the whole world to be loved. Explain that if everyone loved their local environment, then the whole world would be beautiful and loved.
For this activity, you’ll need to take the pupils around the school grounds on a guided walk to identify areas that are unloved. Ask them who they think is responsible for them and what they could do to make them loved again. Now, after filling out the necessary trip paperwork, take them on a walk around the local area doing the same and identifying who has responsibility.
Once back in class, work together to formulate a letter to the responsible person, asking them why their area is unloved and what can be done about it. You could even offer the children’s help to make it loved again!
Activity Three – Love Your Friends – Suitable for Years One to Two+
To develop the understanding that we are not alone in this world and that we have to get on with and build relationships with others
To be able to recognise the good that caring for others does for them and for us
We’ve talked about places and objects being cared for but by far the greatest payback is to care for people; our friends. Ask people to list their friends on a piece of paper and hand them to you for reading out (care just in case someone thought they were on a list but weren’t!) Ask them what it is about those people that make them part of your friends’ list then ask the friends if they agree and what they offer back to reinforce the friendship. What about those people who are not on someone’s friends list? What could be done to help them make it onto the list so that everyone could be on everyone else’s list?
Returning to the question about why children are on your friends’ list, ask them to think about how the others could be added. A good start for this is to ask them questions which seek care from them for others. Try these…
If XXX fell over and hurt themselves, what would you do?
If XXX had forgotten their snack and were hungry, what would you do?
If XXX was struggling with their work, what would you do?
Now turn the question around so it focuses on them…
If your fell over and hurt yourself, what do you think would happen?
If you forgot your snack and was hungry, what would you hope would happen?
If you struggled with your work, what would you hope someone would do?
From the answers to these questions, the children should be able to identify that what they would hope other children would do for them is the same as what they should do for others. From this we can see how the ‘love’ on Valentine’s Day can be translated into a ‘love’ that means every pupil is cared for and loved by others. Finish off the activity by listening to the song and reading the words of the song ‘When I Needed a Neighbour’ found here.
You can find a range of fiction and non-fiction titles that explore love, friendship and care in the Big Cat series. Take a look at what’s on offer on the Collins website.