We love to spin a beloved topic with a global twist. Valentine’s Day is no exception! As we discuss in our book, Unpack Your Impact, we love to expose students to as many global concepts as possible. Why? Because knowing stuff about our world matters. And it’s interesting! It makes teaching fun because you are typically learning alongside your students. Let’s jump into this unit and then, I invite you to check out some of our other Not Your Average Units!
Not Your Average Valentine’s Day
We tend to hover around 5 social studies topics: civics, geography, history, economics, and sociology. For this unit, we learn about some really fun and interesting topics! I have spelled it all out in this video if you want to hear me talk about it! If not, skip the video and keep reading.
Sociology: Raising Awareness
Did you know that February is Heart Health Awareness Month? This is an important time for everyone to raise awareness about doing everything we can to have a healthy heart. Since Valentine’s Day is an exciting time and hearts are everywhere, let’s talk about our actual hearts that we should all take care of! We also wanted to expose students to ways to raise awareness (about any topic, really) and how to do that well.
You would read the Heart Health eBook with your students. You can create a teaching chart with ideas for healthy living that the students glean from the text as well as outside of the text. Then, have a conversation about the importance of raising awareness. Why is that important? How can we do this effectively? Teach from the (included) checklist for a successful poster and discuss things like contrast, short phrases, bold words, etc…and ask the students to create a poster for heart health!
Valentine’s day usually means FLOWERS! Lots and lots of flowers. Where do they come from? There are many developing countries that produce a good amount of flowers that we will use for Valentine’s day. The unfortunate reality is that many farmers and workers on these farms are producing all the flowers, but are not reaping the benefits. Many are paid poorly, have little to no vacation, and are often working in dangerous conditions. People that buy flowers usually experience an intense rise in costs. While there are a few different reasons for this, a lot of this can be traced back to unfair policies that prevent the farmers from getting paid more. This is why Fairtrade organizations have been developed- to help workers have a better life.
You would read the Let’s Talk About Flowers eBook with your students. You’ll want to break this topic down and allow your students to process this content through conversation. Just exposing your students to the idea that flowers come from other countries, the workers aren’t always compensated fairly, and that there are organizations to help with this…that’s the goal! Have your students color and cut out the booklet. Read each page aloud if you have nonreaders, read one page at a time, and ask them to illustrate for comprehension.
History: Conversation Hearts
For history, we will take a look at how conversation hearts became the most popular candy for Valentine’s Day. Conversation hearts are over 100 years old. The sayings used to be longer because the candy used to be bigger and shaped like a seashell. Over the years, it became shaped like a heart and the phrases were shortened. The inventors eventually started to ask the public for ideas for new phrases. They rely on pop culture for a lot of ideas- which means that the phrases can become outdated. Your students will always remember this when they see a box of hearts!
You can read the Candy Hearts: Edible Time Capsules eBook with your students. As you read, discuss terms like “pop culture, outdated, and modern.” We ask our students things like, do you often hear (A LOT) people say something like “far out!” when they like something? Usually, the kids will say that they don’t- then they respond with something like, “no we say that’s cool, or awesome!” Explain that there are terms that are popular for a period of time and then they fade. Glue the candy jars to a piece of 11×17 sheet of construction paper. Fold in half. Have students sort the heart based on modern and outdated phrases.
We really encourage you to think outside the box this Valentine’s Day! Students will do similar activities from preschool-2nd grade if we don’t shake it up. Get global!
LaNesha + Naomi