In my mommy imagination, Solomon, Celia and I sit around our craft table with lacy doilies, red paper, scissors, glitter, and glue, making heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards for their classmates. And then reality strikes (how many kids in each class?) and with a heavy sigh, I usually buy the pre-made boxed cards the kids wanted to begin with, hoping that at least they’ll spell their classmates’ names correctly on the “To” lines.

Thankfully, some inventiveness is always appreciated at the class Valentine’s Day parties. Parent volunteers usually come up with several craft or activity “stations” that will engage kids long enough to pass the time their weary teachers have delegated. (I always imagine the teachers laughing on the inside, as they watch 4 or 5 of us exhaust ourselves trying to fill just one hour in the classroom!).

For a successful classroom party, I suggest at least 4 stations so the kids can rotate in manageable groups. At least 2 stations can involve hands-on crafts and the others can be games or other activities. I also recommend having parent-volunteers bring some snacks and drinks (at least some of which are healthy), some festive music, themed decorations, if possible, and having at least 4 volunteers on site–more if possible.

Make-A-Heart:
Heart-Shaped Sandwiches: Have kids make sandwiches on thin-sliced bread with strawberry jelly or strawberry cream cheese, or use smoked salmon spread and sliced, peeled cucumbers. Then they can cut the sandwiches into heart shapes with cookie cutters and enjoy them with pink lemonade.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels:  Ingredients: 36 pretzel rods, 3/4 lb white or milk chocolate, 1/4 lb different colored chocolate (optional), red sprinkles.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper.  Melt ¾ lb white or milk chocolate in a microwave on 50% power for one minute.  Stir.  Heat again for one minute at 50% power and stir.  Repeat till the chocolate is melted.   Put chocolate into tall narrow container and dip pretzel rods.  Let the excess drip back into the container, then lay the pretzels on the wax paper.  Let them cool for a couple minutes.  Roll the pretzels in colored jimmies or drizzle with another color of melted chocolate.  “Chocolate Melts” at craft or baking stores are the easiest to work with.  Let pretzels cool on wax paper in refrigerator for 15 minutes or overnight at room temperature. 

Other holiday-appropriate snack options include heart-shaped brownies or cookies, pomegranate juice coolers with lime and seltzer, grapes or cheese cubes with heart-adorned toothpicks, or vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and heart-shaped sprinkles.

Have a Heart:
Kids can show they have a heart by making Valentine’s Day cards for nursing home residents or children in a homeless shelter or hospital. Heart-shaped stamps and markers work well for this, along with the supplies mentioned in my first-paragraph fantasy, above. Family Love Coupons: kids can make “heartfelt” coupons for their parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. such as those available at http://www.activitiesforkids.com/holiday/valentine3b.htm, or http://familycrafts.about.com/od/coupons/a/couponbw.htm.

Love Your Heart:
Get the kids active with some games that are good for their hearts: Create a checklist of physical activities, like jumping jacks, sit ups, squats, lunges, crab walk, toe-touches, etc., and ask the kids to do at least 10 of each and give themselves a heart sticker when they’ve completed each exercise.

What classroom tricks to you have up your sleeve to pull off a successful party? Please share your comments and ideas below!

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  • http://savorysweetlife.com alice

    I love the idea of heart shaped sandwiches with jelly and cream cheese!

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  • http://melindahinsonneely.com/ Melinda Neely

    My child has snack day conveniently on February 14. I didn’t want to provide cookies only (his preference of course!), leaving his teacher to spend the rest of the day calming down sugar-loaded kids. These are great ideas and healthier options!

    • meg

      Fruit kabob- on stick , healthy option

  • http://www.thepeche.com Chris @ The Peche

    I love the pretzel idea, especially in a room full of kids with peanut allergies. Thanks for the fun idea!

  • http://girlnamednick.wordpress.com Nick Shein

    My kids and I are going to make heart-shaped pita chips with roasted-red-pepper hummus for them to take in for snacks. I think I’ll surprise them with the jam-heart sandwiches in their lunch on Monday, though! So cute. Thanks!

  • Kate

    I saw an ad with the top image and immediately thought they were pictures of cigarettes (at first). Am I the only one?

    • http://www.thescramble.com Aviva Goldfarb

      Kate, wow, we certainly didn’t intend the pretzels to look like cigarettes–yikes! Did anyone else see that? If so I would be glad to swap the images. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Kate!

    • Anne

      Yes, you are the only one. Use your imagination! Be creative! Awesome idea for V day.

    • BETTY BOWLING

      I also thought thy were cigarettes. My grandson and I were looking at them, I told him, “Surely they aren’t cigarettes, I bet they are pretzels”.

  • Birgit

    Unfortunately, my DD’s school requires that all snacks be store bought and pre-packaged so we are limited on what we can take in. Her teacher is very health conscious, so snacks tend to be fruit and cheese and crackers. However, the kids eat them right up without complaining which is nice.

  • Jennifer

    Yes, I thought the same…maybe using dark chocolate to dip the pretzels in would look better. I can just see my daughter’s kindergarden class now..! :)

    • Jenny

      I also thought they looked like cigarettes, YIKES!

      I always did the fruit kabobs, I would alternate half a strawberry and a large pink strawberry marshmallow and then provide them a dip of 2/3 low fat cream cheese and 1/3 of strawberry flavored canned icing mixed. The kids LOVED these!

  • Jenny

    You could also alternate strawberries and low fat cheese cubes. I used white cheese to keep the V day colors in check. Kids love to eat anything on a stick and these teach pattern recognition and are a fairly healthy option.

  • http://www.michelescafe.blogspot.com/ Michele

    I asked my kids(6) about what the pretzels looked like and my five year old said, ” cigaretts are different you have to make smoke come out of them.., they look like ghost :) ” only one of my children thought they looked like cigarettes. He said that after I asked did they look like them.

  • Dee

    I made the chocolate dipped preztel rods for my daughters’ Valentine’s party at school and they were a hit! I melted Hershey’s chocolate bars and chips but the “classic white” chips didn’t melt right, so I used almond bark and they turned out okay. Thanks for the neat and delicious idea! :)