This year our school has been working to “tweak” what have been considered “traditional” holiday celebrations (i.e. class parties). You’ll remember that we had a relaxing afternoon with a snack and a movie for Halloween, and a our amazing Cultural Celebration just before Winter Break. Well, Valentine’s Day made the trifecta complete, as we made some long-overdue (well at least in my opinion) and really great (also in my opinion!) changes to this day. Let me tell you about how it started in Rm. 202…
I knew that I wanted to twist up Valentine’s Day the last few years, but did so just by adding to the usual “celebrations.” We still had a party and stuffed everyone with sugar before sending them away on the bus. The first year, however, I tried to add in a little #makerspace and we engineered our Valentine boxes out of junk. Then, last year, I did away with the box altogether and we crafted bags during our day, covered in kind words from our friends to help us remember how much #youmatter. But still, there was pretty much still a “regular” Valentine’s Day.
This time around, I did what I tend to do with any big change, and ask my kiddos what they want to do. We talked about how we’d be embarking on an entire #weekofkindness, rather than doing what they were probably expecting. Like I expected, some were fine and some were literally “booing” at me. “But why can’t we have a party?” “Why can’t we bring Valentines?” “We did ….. in kindergarten!” These statements were much like what they snarled at me (lol) when I gave the same speech about the 100th Day (you’d think they’d know me better by now!), and so I talked them down the from the ledge. I explained how if they did it in kindergarten then there’s no reason we should do it now, since we’re not in kindergarten anymore, and also that we’d been spending the WHOLE WEEK focused on kindness instead of just one day, and then also that whatever we chose would–of course–be fun!
We had been rolling ideas around in our heads for a few days and decided we should record them so we wouldn’t forget. We even used some literature for inspiration–we had been on a Pete the Cat roll with our books for a few days and found some Valentine’s Day books that we thought might give us some ideas. A couple of them indeed DID come from Pete. Funny how that works out.
Our #weekofkindness officially began yesterday, and we began laying the groundwork for our kindness-spreading with some books as well as planning. We decided to start collecting books to celebrate International Book-Giving Day (which is Feb. 14) as well as to gathering food for Feed My People and our Robinson Food Pantry. This meant we had some lists to make, and also some inspiring to do. So far, our food list (which we’re writing together with interactive writing) looks like this:
We hope to add more veggie ideas, as well as a category for soup tomorrow!
Today, being actual Valentine’s Day meant kiddos came with a heightened sense of excitement. The #weekofkindness activities for today included writing on each others’ hearts (cool, right??) as well as making Kindness Cake. Oh, and we decided to wear red, pink and hearts. Just because we could. 🙂
Instead of “traditional” Valentine’s cards, we told our friend #youmatter by writing kind words–right on their hearts. We did a pretty complicated rotating routine to make sure everyone got to everyone else’s hearts and they did a GREAT job! What a fun experience seeing the amazing things first grade friends say to each other. 🙂
But wait–it gets even better! We made Kindness Cake! Remember how I told you that we read those Pete the Cat books? Well the very last page of the Valentine’s Day book has a picture of him sharing cake with his friend Callie, and so we added this “bake a cake” idea to our list. Remember when we did all that fantastic pumpkin pie baking in December? Yep, we were thinking that it was time to whip up something else yummy in the Rm. 202 Kitchen!
I found a really fantastic chocolate cake recipe (after we voted for which flavor we wanted to bake) that everyone in our class could eat (which meant it had to be tree-nut free, peanut-free and vegan) and we got busy! Robbie’s mom had a great idea of sending in a heart-shaped cake pan (thanks to the other moms who did this, too!) and so we were READY for Valentine’s Day.
To some it looked like just a regular chocolate cake with vanilla icing, and I guess in some ways it could be.
But we kicked it up a notch with the decorations. The decorations were hearts that we labeled with ideas for acts of kindness–things we had done, things we had seen others do, or ideas we had for things we could do. We put them on toothpicks and covered the top of our cake with our kindness:
The way we got to the “spreading kindness” part was when we ate it. As we cut the cake, I made sure that everyone’s piece had a heart in it. Each kiddo got back a heart, but NOT the one they had written down. Their challenge was to spread kindness by doing the act of kindness that was on the heart in their piece of cake at sometime in the next week. Cool, right? It was fun to see how many were immediately making plans for how they’d complete their challenge.
Oh, and how it did taste? Well this is what is left on the cake plate:
And that is my #kindnesschallenge: “I can help someone.” Ok, friends, challenge taken. I’ll let you know what happens. 🙂