Thursday, February 12, 2009

Share the Love - Building Assets through Valentine Traditions

Holidays offer a great opportunity to be intentional about building assets, building memories, and having fun together. Valentine’s Day, in particular, is a great time to show others that you care, leading to a more caring school climate, a more supportive home environment, stronger intergenerational relationships and healthier friendships. Here are some ideas you can use in the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day.

Loving Words
• Hide conversation hearts around the room for children to find. Let children hunt and hide them again and again.
• Get sneaky – put mini love notes in each other’s pockets, lunchboxes or on their pillows during the week. On each note, share a specific trait you admire about that person such as, “Your hugs every night make my day,” “I love your ready smile,” or “Thank you for your helpful spirit.”
• Send cards to people you care about. Draw pictures or write poems to tell them why they are important to you.

Loving Hands
• Make Valentines on the computer. Create labels using your own photo, add a Valentine message, and then stick the label to treats.
• Remember old fashioned paper weaving with paper strips? Weave pink, white, and red placemats.
• Get creative – make valentine t-shirts with paints or draw hearts and fill in with words and pictures that represent things that each is proud of themselves and each other.
• Make ‘stained glass’ hearts using recycled crayons and waxed paper.

Kitchen Celebrations
• Incorporate red, pink, and white foods into your Valentine’s Day meals
o Red: strawberries, apples, dried cranberries, red peppers, raspberries, red hots, spaghetti, lasagna
o White: bananas, cauliflower, yogurt covered raisins, marshmallows, vanilla yogurt, alfredo pasta
o Pink: strawberry ice cream, strawberry milk, strawberry yogurt
• Hide a Valentine message and candy treat as a surprise.
• Write ‘love notes’ with a sharpie marker on the peel of a banana or a sandwich bag
• Cut out hearts - sandwiches, pizza, pancakes, cookies, rice crispy treats, napkins, placemats....
• Have friends over for a pancake breakfast. Make heart-shaped pancakes using a metal cookie cutter. Serve with raspberry or strawberry preserves and a dollop of whipped cream.

Show Some Love to Others
• Volunteer together to help someone in need. (Need inspiration? For young children, read Berenstain Bears’ Think of Those in Need by Stan and Jan Berenstain. For pre-teens and teens consider reading our book, Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand.)

In the Classroom
• Children and youth alike will enjoy these classic picture books: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine by Marjorie Sharmat, Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit or Olive, My Love by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh.
• Do a health study on sugar, a gift commonly given during Valentine’s Day.
• Study the heart in science class.
• Language arts: write poems or stories about love and friendship.
• History: interview older adults about their Valentine’s traditions, or study the history of Valentine’s Day.

On the Big Screen
Spread out sleeping bags and enjoy a box of popcorn as you enjoy classic movies about love and friendship. Some of our favorites include: Ever After, Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music, Shrek, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, Cars, The Lion King, or The Princess Bride.

Assets Built through These Valentine’s Traditions: * Family support * Positive family communication * Other adult relationships * Caring neighborhood * Caring school climate * Service to others * Positive peer influence * Creative activities * Youth programs * Time at home * Reading for pleasure * Caring * Equality and social justice * Planning and decision making * Interpersonal competence * Self-esteem *

To learn more about positive youth development and the Developmental Assets, visit or