Activities & Lessons
Valentine’s Day can be about so much more than gift-giving. It can be a great time to reflect on friendship, kindness, and life-changing moments. Get your whole class feeling the love this February 14. Add one or more of these fun and educational activities to your day.
Valentine’s Day Ideas for Middle and High School
These Valentine’s Day activities for middle school and high school students include art projects, writing prompts, math, and social studies mini-lessons, plus a random acts of kindness challenge!
1. Valentine’s Day Writing Prompts
Should we celebrate friendship as well as romantic love on Valentine’s Day? What are some ways to celebrate the holiday without spending money? These are some prompts students can tackle to give them practice with persuasive and informational writing. Display the writing prompts below or print the cards and laminate them. Have students choose one prompt and write a paragraph or essay response. (For more ideas, try these 25 Valentine's Day writing prompts based on literary classics.)
Then, invite students to share their writing with a classmate. If possible, pair up students who have completed different prompts. Provide them with the following questions to spark discussion: Do you agree with your classmate? Why or why not? How would you have answered the question?
2. Love by the Numbers
An infographic is a great example of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Infographics serve as a compelling way to represent complex data and are used in various fields, from journalism to science.
Infographics provide a visual way for students to share information about a particular topic they’ve researched. In this activity, students learn why visual tools like infographics are used and how to interpret them. Then, they can create their own infographic.
- First, share a few infographics with your students. Then, have them research Valentine’s Day stats for a recent year. The stats can include anything that fits into the story or information they want to convey, such as average consumer spending, most popular gifts, number of cards sent, and so on.
- Students should take plenty of notes, including citations for the data they’ll use once they’re ready to create their infographic.
- Next, students should plan out their infographic’s design, such as its colors, graphics, and flow.
- Finally, have your students use a free program, such as Adobe Express or Canva, to practice making an infographic. Alternatively, your students can create a hand-drawn infographic if they prefer or can’t get access to the software. Once they’re done, have them share their final drafts and discuss how the graphics they chose accurately represent their research findings.
3. Celebrations Around the World
What are some ways people around the world celebrate love and friendship? Have your students do some research to find out. They can follow these steps:
- Choose at least five countries to research.
- Take notes on how people in each country celebrate love or friendship. In Denmark, for instance, sweethearts and friends exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops on February 14. In Argentina, people celebrate friendship with messages of appreciation on July 20, Friend's Day. And in South Korea, couples celebrate love on the 14th of each month. “Day of roses” is celebrated in May, “day of kisses” in June, and “day of hugs” in December.
- Share their findings in a PowerPoint presentation, a blog post, or an audio recording.
Keep track of the countries students learned about by placing a pushpin on each one on a world map. You can do this on a digital map, too.
4. How Do I Love Thee?
Love is one of the most common themes in literature. Love can inspire characters to go above and beyond in life or, if unrequited, cause despair. Understanding how characters express their feelings is an excellent lesson on character analysis. As in real life, a character’s personality, background, and relationships may determine how they approach the person they desire.
Have your students choose one of their favorite literary characters and write a love message to the character’s person of interest. Would the characters write a sonnet or a song? What words or figures of speech would the characters use? How would they send their message—via a text or traditional card? Finally, would the characters remain anonymous or make their crush aware that they’re the author?
5. Design a Vinegar Valentine
Exchanging sweet messages has been a Valentine’s Day tradition in some countries since the 14th century. But what you might not know is that the messages weren’t always sweet. Beginning in the 1840s, the “vinegar valentine” let recipients know the sender wasn’t so crazy about them. See an example of these sassy cards below and read more about their history on the Missouri Historical Society website. Then challenge students to design a vinegar valentine from a character in a book or movie to a villain in the story.
This 1909 vinegar valentine tells the recipient to “skidoo.” (Credit: Missouri Historical Society Collections)
6. Words to Love By
Challenge students to search online for a quote about love by an author, poet, movie star, singer, or anyone else who inspires them. Then have them use the quote to complete the activity below. If you're short on time, students can use the quote by Shakespeare below or use one of these quotes on the power of love compiled by the History Channel.
“Love sought is good, but given unsought better.” —William Shakespeare, from Twelfth Night
1. Describe how the words make you feel.
2. Draw a picture of the image the quote evokes.
3. Explain how the author feels about love.
4. Briefly state why you agree or disagree with these words.
7. Show Seniors Some Love
Sending a special message to older people living at long-term care institutions is a simple act to show love. Your students can create and send homemade valentines or store-bought ones to a local long-term care facility. Call or email ahead to determine if the institution you choose accepts cards and the deadline for dropping off or sending them.
Alternatively, students can work together to create and send cards to teachers and other employees at their school to show appreciation.
8. Reflect on Defining Moments
In a reflective narrative, writers look back at an incident or a change in their lives. This is a personal style of writing that provides a meaningful opportunity for self-reflection. In this activity, students write a reflective narrative. In some cultures Valentine’s Day is about more than romantic love—it can be about friendship and love for family. The following topics allow your students to go in the direction they feel most comfortable with:
- The moment you met your best friend
- The birth of a sibling
- A memorable Valentine’s Day
- Going on a special date
- A special memory concerning a family pet
- A time when they felt inspired by a performer, a leader, or a person in their community
After choosing their topic, students should brainstorm how that incident in their past changed them. A T-chart can help them brainstorm details about their lives before and after a particular moment or incident. This blog on how to write a reflective narrative can help your students plan, write, and finalize their drafts.
9. Valentine Sudoku
Here’s a fun picture Sudoku puzzle for your students to solve on Valentine’s Day. Each row and column must contain only one of these images: heart, arrow, rose, XO, and an envelope. We’ve added one image in each column of the puzzle. Students fill in the remaining empty boxes. For an added challenge, have them create a more difficult version of this puzzle for a classmate to solve. If you’d like to provide students with Sudoku puzzles of various levels of difficulty, try an online generator.
10. Sweet Tweets
Tell students they are going to learn how to analyze the engagement of a company’s social media post. Ask: What are some companies that profit from Valentine’s Day? (Students might suggest companies that sell greeting cards, chocolates, jewelry, or flowers.) Record student responses.
Have students partner up to analyze one company’s Valentine’s Day Twitter or Instagram post. They could choose from the class list or choose a company whose products they consume since most will likely create a post on holidays. Note: using local businesses’ Valentine’s Day posts might prove easier since the numbers (followers, likes, etc.) will be lower.
First, students will have to find the company’s Valentine’s Day post on Twitter or Instagram. Next, they can analyze engagement by comparing likes to followers.
Example 1: A big greeting card company's Valentine’s Day post receives 19,500 likes on Twitter, where the company has 4.7 million followers. Convert the fraction 19,500/4,700,000 into a percentage to see that the post reached a .429% engagement rate.
Example 2: A small, family-owned chocolate maker's Valentine’s Day post receives 351 likes on an Instagram account with 6,172 followers. Convert the fraction 351/6,172 into a percentage to see that the post reached a 5.7% engagement rate.
For more on analyzing a company’s social media engagement, check out this blog which also includes downloadable worksheets that take students through the analysis process step by step.
11. Expressions of Love
Fondness. Infatuation. There are plenty of words related to love. In this activity, students write and design a dictionary entry featuring a word related to love that resonates with them. They could even choose a term from a language other than English that they may already know or are learning. Afterward, students should define their words. The definition could be funny or personal—a great way to make the words their own.
Students can create their entries on paper, on a computer, or even on a poster. They can also include information typically found in a dictionary, such as the part(s) of speech, pronunciation, and an example of how to use the word in a sentence. Finally, have your students illustrate their entries with Valentine’s Day-themed graphics or a picture representing their word. Students can share their entries with classmates or combine their entries to create a class dictionary.
12. Kindness Challenge
Invite students to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a random act of kindness. You might even challenge them to do one kind act every day during February. After all, February 14 isn’t the only date set aside this month for showing some love. There’s Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17, 2022) and Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 13–19, 2022).
Tell students that helping others produces a “positive feedback loop” between kindness and happiness. In other words, doing a good deed makes you feel happy, which, in turn, makes you more likely to do yet another good deed. First, brainstorm a list of kind acts students might do for others and display it in the classroom. For ideas, check out our blog on how to promote kindness in kids and our virtual volunteering activities. Have students keep a journal of kind acts and report to the class on what they did and how it made them feel. Discuss: Did you experience the “positive feedback loop” between kindness and happiness? Encourage students to provide details to support their responses.
More Valentine’s Day Fun
Got any engaging Valentine’s Day lesson plans for middle school and high school students? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about the February 14 activities that have proved successful with your upper-grade students, or if you tried any of our activities, let us know how they worked out. Connect with us on Twitter (@HMHCo) or email us at Shaped@hmhco.com.
For more ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your students, check out these blogs:
Find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.
Learn how to integrate social and emotional learning across all subject areas with our SEL curriculum.
Download our FREE 2022–2023 calendar of activities!