Each year with the lead up to Valentine’s Day comes the influx of hearts – on our candy, in our cards, in decorations and nearly every other place you might look.
Of course, February is a good time to do some heart inspired crafts in your classroom to coordinate with the international holiday, but you do not have to sacrifice your language practice to do these fun and artistic activities. When you try any of the follow crafts with your ESL students, they will be able to express themselves artistically and linguistically, and you do not have to feel guilty for bringing art into the language classroom!
HOWTO: St.Valentine's Crafts in Your Language Classroom
Pick up a bag of conversation candy hearts. They are inexpensive and easy to find this time of year. The put your students in groups and give each group a handful of the candies. Encourage your students to read the messages on the hearts and share their thoughts about those messages with each other. Would they ever say those things to a person in whom they were interested? Have they used any of the lines before? Are there some more appropriate for friends or family rather than a romantic interest? Using these hearts for inspiration, have your groups make a list of other messages that could appear on the hearts. Finally, break out the construction paper, glue and glitter and ask each student to make a large conversation heart of his own. You can string these through your classroom or post them on a bulletin board titled “Things We Love to Think About.” You can even encourage your students to give one to someone that they like and see if the sentiment is returned.
Bit By The Love Bug?
Have you ever heard the expression ‘to get bit by the love bug’? Have your students ever heard the expression? Introduce them to the phrase and then tell them that you are going to make love bugs for Valentine’s Day. Each person will need a tongue depressor, two larger wooden hearts, two smaller wooden hearts and two craft eyes. Provide your class with paint or markers to decorate the wood pieces and then glue the smaller hearts onto the larger hearts. Then glue the points of the large hearts and the eyes to the tongue depressor. The hearts should resemble wings on the body of an insect. Ask your students to think about what would happen if they were bitten by a love bug. They should be creative and imaginative. Then have each person write a paragraph about getting bitten by a love bug to display on a bulletin board with his or her love bug.
Chain Of Hearts
Decorate your room and let your students be creative at the same time by creating a Valentine’s Day paper chain. In fact, the chain will be made from white, red and pink pipe cleaners. Give your students the pipe cleaners and ask them to shape them into hearts, linking each new heart with the last heart on the chain. As your class works on the chain, ask them what they think the phrase “everyone love everyone” means. Does it mean that the relationships have to be romantic? Is loving someone the same thing as agreeing with a person? Is loving a person the same thing as respecting a person? Then challenge your class to agree on three ways they can try to love one another better.
Right From The Heart
For a free form Valentine’s Day craft, have your students draw or paint while you play songs about love. You can choose your favorite love songs, but think about the type of music your students enjoy when making your selections. Then play two or three songs and let the creativity reign. Once the music and the pictures are done, ask any willing student to come to the front of the room and explain his or her picture, why he drew or painted what he did and what it means. You can also ask the class how they incorporated the music or words from the song into their pieces.
Start With A Heart
Have you ever seen the little figures that can be drawn starting with a fingerprint? Take that idea to heart and ask your students to fashion a heart into an animal, person or living creature. You can start with cut out construction paper hearts or with a heart stamp that you can get at a local craft store. Then, to make the creatures, you will need to have a variety of craft supplies available for your students. Once your students have made their creatures, ask each person to write a short story using their creature as the main character of their story.
Give your students a variety of heart cut outs to mix and match to form a mosaic picture. The key to getting your students to use their language skills for this craft is to give each person a set of unique hearts that no one else in the class has. For example, you may give one person large white hearts, another small pink hearts, and another small red hearts. If students want to use another size or color heart in their design, they will have to ask the student who has those particular hearts. You should also require each person to use at least three different types of hearts in their creation. Then, the only other things you will need are a glue stick and some blank paper on which your students can create their mosaics.
Heart Shaped Journal
You may want to give your students some heartfelt writing inspiration for the holiday, and you can use an easily constructed heart shaped journal to do it. Using a template and several decorative papers, have your students trace and cut out a handful of hearts the same size. Next, each student should fold the hearts in half and then stack them together, each unfolded heart inside the previous one, lining up all the folds. Use a hole puncher to put two holes on the seam of the hearts (keep them folded if you do not have a long enough hole puncher) and then tie the sheets together with a piece of yarn. You should feed the yard through the holes on the inside and then tie it into a bow along the seam of the journal. Your students can then use the heart journal for their next writing assignment. Try giving them a writing prompt that has to do with love.
Language teachers have a great challenge and a great benefit when it comes to educating their students.
The challenge comes because language is so integral to a student’s ability to learn. The benefit is that almost any activity you do in class can and should use language, so when you are looking for Valentine’s Day crafts for your students, you can still challenge them to improve and increase their language skills. These ideas are only the beginning of what you can do with your ESL students for Valentine’s Day, so take some inspiration here and have fun with your students on February 14th!
Susan likes to enjoy every day to its fullest whether she is freelance writing, teaching homeschoolers, or developing her special talent of instigation. When she is not imagining sand castles or catching others off balance, she cooks, sings, reads and takes walks in the sunshine. She earned an M.A. from the University of Delaware in Linguistics and an M.A. from Trinity School for Ministry in Youth Ministry. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her three cheepy cockatiels.
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