PBS in the Classroom

Make Your Valentine’s Day Lessons Even Sweeter with Pinkalicious

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As January comes to a close and February is in full gear
The hearts of students and teachers are bursting with good cheer.
For this is the season when love is in bloom,
And a myriad of paper hearts decorate the room!
A mood of excitement fills the air
as kids can’t wait to pass out candy to share.
Decorating paper hearts with sentiments that are loving and kind,
To wish our friends a Happy Valentine!!!

Crafting Love into Lesson Planning

If you are like me, this rhyme speaks to the feelings of this beloved holiday.  However, as exciting as Valentine’s Day is for most, some educators may worry about losing a day of critical instructional time by spending an entire day on “arts and crafts.”As a kindergarten teacher, I find that Valentine’s Day provides many opportunities to incorporate numerous social-emotional skills that are critical to development in early childhood as well as encompassing skills such as awareness, empathy, collaboration and problem-solving. It also provides children with the opportunity to cut, draw, glue and use all those fine motor skills that 5-year-olds are still trying to develop and master. This year, I decided to use the amazing resources provided by PBS Kids to help make my Valentine’s Day instruction engaging and developmentally appropriate, all while meeting standards for instruction.  

Pink Love: Why Kindness and Awareness Matter

We began the day by watching the Valentine’s Day episode of Pinkalicious & Peterrific entitled, “Pink Love.”  At the beginning of the episode, Pinkalicious decides to show her friends how much she loves and appreciates them by making each of them a Valentine collage.  I used this part of the show to engage students in a discussion about kindness and awareness. This conversation is especially valuable for kindergarteners because, at this age, they are interacting more with others and are beginning to develop a better understanding of the effects of these interactions.  In our conversation, we discussed how Pinkalicious showed kindness and awareness towards her friends by personalizing each of their collages with things that each one loves and how that made them feel.

Digital Drawing Using the Seesaw App

To help students gain a better understanding of what it means to have awareness for others we read the book “Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch” by Eileen Spinelli.  We discussed how Mr. Hatch felt when he was shown kindness and also how his awareness for others made him want to be kind to them. In the story (spoiler alert), Mr. Hatch is disappointed when he finds out that the Valentine package he received in the mail wasn’t intended for him.  We talked about what it means to have empathy and how the people in the neighborhood showed empathy towards Mr. Hatch when they discover how he felt. Students then used their iPads to create digital drawings in the Seesaw app. Students drew ways they could show empathy and demonstrate kindness towards others.  With Seesaw, students were also able to record and verbally explain how they could demonstrate kindness. Using an app like Seesaw, students are able to draw and use the microphone to explain their work. For students who may not be as open, this provides another way to express their ideas. After I approved their posts, students then used emojis to comment on their peers’ drawings.  

Social Media in a Safe Space

In addition to integrating technology into many of our lessons, we also use social media to share our voices.  Our class has a classroom account and the handle is @ntakinder112. In class, we have discussions around the content we are learning about or current events.  I then share some of my students’ thoughts on our class page. To protect the privacy of my students, I only use initials and we only follow other classrooms or educational accounts.   After reading the book and watching the episode, we tweeted out some of our thoughts about demonstrating kindness.

A Simple Unicorn Mask Craft

The second half of the “Pink Love” episode is centered around Pinkalicious and her imaginary unicorn, Goldie.  Pinkalicious and Goldie are competing in the “Great Unicorn Challenge.” When Pinkalicious tells Peterrific he can’t ride Goldie, he decides to create his own unicorn.  With a little inspiration from Peterrific, we planned to make our own unicorns. Instead of having students create their unicorns independently, , I chose a guided activity.  Guiding students through a craft as opposed to having them do it free-hand, eliminates the “I can’t do it” cries. After an intensive Pinterest search, I found this super simple paper plate unicorn mask craft.

A Template and Modeling Lead to a Successful Lesson

To make the activity run smoothly, I did a little prep beforehand.  I cut the middle out of the paper plates the students were going to use for their masks before class.  I then prepped bins for each table with all the materials students would need to make their mask (paper plates, popsicle sticks, construction paper, stickers, and pipe cleaners).  Once it was time for the actual activity, I modeled what to do by making my own mask. I then posted my example on the board for reference and sent them back to their tables to make their own.  Providing a template and modeling how to do it made the activity structured enough for students to be successful while still allowing students to decorate using their own creativity.    

What Makes You Unique Like a Unicorn?In addition to developing an awareness for others, young children are also developing an increased sense of self-awareness.  They are beginning to learn their strengths and challenges and identify areas where they excel. To help students think further about their own strengths, I posed the following question:  In what ways are you special and unique like a unicorn? We discussed things that they were good at, their unique traits and why they thought these things made them special like unicorns.  Using the photo and record features in Seesaw, students took pictures of themselves with their masks on and recorded themselves explaining why they were unique and special like a unicorn.  

No matter what your feelings about Valentine’s Day, capitalizing on teachable moments, focusing on social-emotional learning, harvesting the power of technology and the magic of PBS Kids is sure to take make for a Valentine’s Day filled with lessons that will have both you and your students feeling the love.

Mia Leonard

Mia Leonard Kindergarten Teacher and PBS Digital Innovator

Jamila's (Mia) kindergarteners have a lot to say, and one of the places they express themselves is on their own class blog. Mia uses methods, like the blog, to transform teaching and learning and empower her young students every day. She also leverages self-created differentiated videos and Twitter to scaffold learning for her students and create new opportunities for self-expression.  For Mia, professional development is crucial to transformation; she works closely with educators throughout her district to constantly evolve her teaching. “I believe that collaboration is necessary to push one's own practice,” says Mia. “It helps foster an environment of ongoing growth and development, which I consider a key element in developing a strong professional community and enriching one's practice.”

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