- Keywords: Valentine’s Day, English Wall, writing, vocabulary
- Learner English level: Beginner to advanced
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and higher
- Preparation time: 0 to 30 minutes
- Activity time: 20 to 50 minutes
- Materials: Worksheet, cards, markers, sample (optional)
Every year on Valentine’s Day, students (and teachers!) are concerned with sweets, cards, and all sorts of tokens of affection. One way to introduce some broader thoughts about Valentine’s Day traditions is to have students consider what love is. A fellow teacher shared this activity with me, and demonstrated that her lower level students could use simple vocabulary and concrete ideas to express love metaphorically as a sport or food, whereas her higher level students could use more advanced ideas to equate love to an action or idea. I found that my own students enjoyed expressing their thoughts about love in English as well. Making and decorating cards for use on an English Wall or similar display added to the fun, allowing students to draw and doodle to their hearts’ content. This activity combines creative thinking, a bit of art, and some writing, to make a Valentine’s Day activity that focuses on broadening students’ concepts of love.
Step 1: Access the worksheet found in the appendix, and print enough copies for each student.
Step 2: Prepare enough index cards, heart shapes, or other materials for each student to complete a Love is... card.
Step 3: Optionally, create your own sample Love is... card, to allow students to visualize the final product of this activity.
Step 1: Ask students what love is. Many times, they will give the dictionary definition of love. Ask the students if love can be a thing or an idea.
Step 2: Demonstrate such sentences as, “Love is a friendly smile,” and, “Love is reading a good book.”
Step 3: Show the sample Love is… card (optional). Then, tell students that today, they will be thinking about what love is, and making cards to display their ideas. Take a moment to review relevant grammar or vocabulary, such as food, sports, emotions, or activities relevant to recent lessons.
Step 4: Pass out the worksheets. There are examples, so, to avoid copying, students should be reminded that original ideas are best.
Step 5: As each student finishes writing three Love is... ideas, check their writings, and then pass them an index or colored card (or, for added fun, a card cut into the shape of a heart or other themed object). They choose their favorite Love is... sentence and write it on the card, decorating it however they like. On the back of the card, they should write their names.
Step 6: When the students are finished, or when time has run out, allow volunteers to read their ideas of what love is. Then, collect the finished cards to assemble in a display (English Wall or the like).
For advanced students, this activity alone might be too easy. A good challenge is to have the students write about their choices for what love is by explaining the reasons for their choices, or the meaning of their metaphors.
Also, this activity can work with ideas besides love. Happiness, family, success, and other concepts with subjective meanings can be substituted to make this activity useful throughout the year.
When I first heard of this activity, I was a little skeptical because it sounded too simple to be useful. However, after trying it myself, I found that the simplicity allows students to express themselves without worrying about difficult English structures. Students are curious to see what their classmates have written, and creating a display raises English awareness and interest throughout the school. Sometimes my fellow teachers make their own cards as well! This activity allows each student to better understand what their classmates might think about love, and that different people may have different ideas about what love can be. And that’s really the most important part, because for me love is understanding.
The appendix is available below.