Valentine’s Day… thrills and fun or awkwardness and misery? For me, a bit of both. Even as an adult, I am not always in the “right” romantic state to make it giddy bliss. My preference is to downplay specifically “romance” in Middle School. Our most numerous patrons are 5th and 6th graders. Not that 7th and 8th graders won’t come by, but a Teen Read mystery week may be a better draw for them. It’s always a challenge (for me at least) to find the sweet spot to lure in busy 7th and 8th graders.
Keep it Light and Fun
Our MS staff discourages candy. (Students will have plenty from each other anyway.) I know not everyone has the time, interest, inclination or suburban location to make these ideas work. I love that we don’t all “look like librarians”, and we each bring our own personalities to our schools! These ideas have fit for me. Check Pinterest and other social media sites for creative images and ideas from brains worldwide. (Check the Comments below, for AISL input!)
Free Book Marks from Discarded Books
I cut up the undamaged cartoon strips after a Garfield book met an early death in a lawn sprinkler incident. A well-loved and falling apart Far Side book met the same fate. (Caveat on the Far Side: check the cartoons as you cut them. I culled a few I felt too risqué to hand out to 5th graders.)
Inexpensive Book Marks (about a penny each)
Use 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. Standard book mark size is 6″ x 2″– a perfect fit. Craft stores (ex: Michael’s; Hobby Lobby) have a wide selection. At 15 cents/sheet x 10 sheets = 120 bookmarks for $1.50. Tuesday Morning, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and similar stores are hit or miss, but check the stationery shelves. These flowered pages were on sale 25 sheets (300 book marks) for $1.50.
Keep your eye out for stickers. Tiny is fine – middle schoolers have great manual dexterity. They can peel one to stick on forehead, hand or cheek. The cuter the better. Hearts or sports balls are also popular. Stickers are often displayed near greeting cards at dollar stores, Walgreens, and many other places.
“I Am Loved” Pins (if available?)
Our local Helzberg Diamonds jewelry store gave me several handfuls of these pins about five years ago, from a big bowl on display. I thought they would be more popular (or perhaps be a flop due to students poking other students) but so far, there is more looking than taking. I checked online, and could not find if they still offered them to educators for free. If you have a Helzberg near you, it might be worth asking. Each pin says “I am loved” in a different language. (I chose a few at random, for the photo.) I put them out on Valentine’s Day. If students ask for one, they can have it. They are a conversation starter that may last a few more years.
I’m fine with my low key V-day, and if you have a bolder (or more subtle) way that works for you, please share with a Comment.