Planning a Valentine Day Classroom Party for 4th Graders
Volunteering in Elementary School
Once again I was a home room mom in my youngest daughter's classroom.
As a former teacher, I have always been involved in my children's schools. When my oldest ones were young, they attended a charter school, where I worked as a volunteer librarian. That was by far my favorite experience with kids. I got to know all of the kids from the school, I read books to them, and was able to recommend reading material for them. There were years I taught Art Masterpiece, where I also felt that I have helped their education.
By the time my youngest got to school though, we moved her to a public school. Here, my work as parent has been much easier. They have a paid librarian, they don't need parents for that, they teach art so they don't really have an art masterpiece program. What they do need though, is home room moms, and volunteers for field trips.
The first year I volunteered as a home room mom, I had no idea what to expect. Even though this was my third child, in the other school there was no designated home-room parent, everyone was involved, some parents more than others. Luckily, I shared the responsibility with another mom, and we got things done as a team.
I love being involved, but party planning is not my thing. Parties are not my thing. As it turns out, as home room parent, that was my main responsibility. Even though I knew this, I still volunteered, since no one else did. The teacher was new in the school, and by 4th grade there weren't many parents who even came to the open house to meet her. So when she asked for home-room parent volunteer, and no one has answered, I told her I would do it unless someone offers. Looking around the classroom, I was expecting another parent to say she/he might share the responsibility. They all looked relieved that someone has finally offered. I got the "job". Seriously, it is fun. I don't mind it, and I have plenty of ideas for party activities, especially arts and crafts activities. I even have a t least a few that we don't have time for, just in case we do things faster than I expect.
I planned the Valentine Day party very last minute, just the day before the party. It still turned out pretty good. The teacher was happy, the kid were happy, so I was happy with it all. I thought I'd share some of what I did, in case it helps another home room mom.
Planning the Valentine Day Party
It was a short party, only one hour at the end of the day, just the perfect time.
The kids would exchange Valentines during the party, eat some goodies, have a few craft activities and a game.
I created a sign-up for the parents to bring in cupcakes, cookies, fruit bowls and juice boxes. I checked the list the night before to see tonight if we had enough, then made a list of what was still needed to pick up in the morning.
For craft activities, I looked online for help. One of my favorites I found was on this site:
I tried it with my daughter and it was a hit with her, so I adapted it for a classroom activity.
"Stained Glass" Hearts
"Stained Glass Hearts" Craft Activity for the Classroom Party
- colored paper - card stock or copy paper works
- themed confetti
- contact paper (or clear laminate)
- hole puncher (optional)
Make sure you have enough of everything for each child. I found that to avoid chaos, it works best if you are a bit organized and make a "set" of material for each child.
- Count the colored paper sheets, and set aside one for each child. (If you are using this activity for younger grades, it would be very helpful if you cut out the heart shapes for them).
- Cut out pieces of the contact paper, two pieces of the size of half a sheet of paper for each child.
- Cut the ribbon pieces so everyone has one.
- Divide the confetti so each table has one, that you will pour into a small container (paper bowls worked great for me)
- Make one (or a few) as a run-through, also as a model to show them what it could look like. I personally like it better if they come up with their own design, too many times I've seen whole classrooms copy the example. However, I'm learning from my mistakes. When I tried doing it without an example to show them, while I saw a lot of creative takes on the original idea, I also created somewhat of a chaos. I know, creativity is chaos sometimes, but when you have 25 kids being chaotically creative, it may give you a headache, not to mention how the teacher may feel, and the neighboring classrooms. So as an alternative, I got in the habit of making a few versions of whatever craft I'm trying to have them do, and also making sure to tell them that they can come up with their own idea, I'd love to see something different. I know the kids now, and I know a few will come up with something totally unexpected that usually impresses me.
Step by Step Instructions
- Hand out the contact paper, card stock, decorations, ribbons to the kids.
- Have them cut out the hearts (if you are adapting this for younger children, it helps if you have pre-cut shapes for them).
- Have them peel off the back of one piece of their contact paper and lay it flat on their desk with the sticky side up
- Have them place the heart shape(s), and whatever they want in the middle on the contact paper.
- Once the heart looks the way they want it to, have them peel off the backing from the other piece of contact paper and lay it on top. It may wrinkle, hopefully they won't mind. If they work with a friend as a team, it may be easier to set the top layer on without wrinkling it).
- Cut off the excess contact paper
- Punch a hole (or cut out a hole if you don't have enough hole punchers) on top.
- Thread the ribbon through the hole and it's ready.
Craft Activity #2: Butterfly Made of Pipe Cleaner
My daughter asked me what do butterflies have to do with Valentine's Day. My answer was ready: they are pretty, but if you prefer, we can make flowers. I gave the kids a choice to make either or both. If did lead to a bit of chaos as I expected, but it was just part of the party game. The teacher didn't mind, and we ended up with some creative flowers, butterflies, even dragonflies and other unidentifiable (by me) but cute shapes.
You need two pieces of pipe cleaners for each child
Other Ideas with Pipe Cleaners
You can also make dragonflies or flowers very easily with pipe cleaners.
Here are some other examples of crafts with pipe cleaners.
No party should just consist of crafts, kids of all ages need some games to play, if it's a party. I adapted some easy games to the theme.
1. Musical hearts
As a twist on musical chairs, we used foot size hearts (I cut them out of card stock) instead of chairs. I had one less heart than children, and kept taking one heart out of the game, just like you'd play with musical chairs. When the music stopped, the child who didn't get to step on a heart was out, ten for the next round one of the hearts was taken out as well. We continued until each child was out.
2. Heart target practice
Have the kids make origami airplanes, and while they are doing that, make a heart shaped target on the floor using masking tape. The kids then take turns trying to get their planes into the heart.
I always have an easy back-up plan in case we go through everything too fast, or just some kids finish some craft activities before others. For this party I had puzzles and word searches with Valentine theme.
Sources on the Web
Most of these activities (except the pipe cleaner ideas) I adopted from a few websites where I found Valentine party ideas. The sites I used for these ideas:
http://www.hallmark.com/valentines-day/ideas/valentines-day-party-ideas-for-kids/ - you can find printable puzzles here, too