Use Valentine's Day to Teach Kids About Gratitude
by Amanda Bridle
Popular culture will have us believe Valentine’s Day is about romantic love, but I challenge you to make it about a deeper and more enduring love: Jesus’ love.
Gift-giving holidays like Valentine’s Day create the perfect opportunity to share love with people all around us. Read on for some ideas on how you can bring your kids along with you on this journey of noticing folks and loving them well.
1. Decide who to make valentine cards for.
Sit down with your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, your Sunday school class, or any other special young people in your life and come up with a list of people in their lives they might want to create a special valentine for. Depending on the ages of the kiddos and the time available, you may need to keep the list short.
Help your kids think about the important people in their lives: family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, custodians, bus drivers, librarians, doctors and nurses, coaches, the person who cuts their hair, or the delivery person who always honks for them. Look around your neighborhood, your church community and your school community for ideas.
2. Get crafty! Simple is just fine. Don’t panic if craftiness is not your spiritual gift. Fold a piece of paper in half and you have a card. Now let your kids decorate the cover with hearts. Older kids might enjoy cutting hearts out using the folded paper method. My personal favorite tool for making valentine cards is a large heart-shaped paper punch and a stack of colorful magazines or calendars. Add a glue stick and you’re all set for happy heart-themed collage art. Heart-shaped stickers are a win for kids of all ages.
3. Help kids write the message. Again, tailor this activity to the age and attention span of your specific kiddos. Some easy prompts might be: I love it when you… I love it when you wave at me when you bring the mail.
Thank you for… Thank you for making gym class so fun. My favorite time is when you get out the giant parachute.
You make… so much fun because you… You make church so much fun because you do different voices for the Bible stories!
Or, open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13:7. Read it together and choose one of the attributes that best fits the card recipient. Your kid can write, “Love is kind," and then explain “You are kind to me when you…”
If writing is a struggle for your child, know that one sentence is perfectly acceptable. Older kids can be encouraged to format their note like a letter beginning with a greeting “Dear Mr. Jones,” and closing with a sign off “Your student, Abigail.”
4. Have fun delivering the notes! If you’re writing to folks you see on a regular basis, have fun bringing the notes along with you in your daily routines and letting your child hand deliver them. If you are sending them in the mail, this is a chance to teach older children how to write an address on an envelope and to know what corner the stamp goes on.
This joyful card writing activity trains children to notice all the people in their lives who help care for them. It teaches a practical skill—how to write a thank you note—but it also encourages a grateful heart, which is something we all need.
Amanda Bridle is the artist behind Power and Peace Design, a small business offering bright, colorful, and modern Bible verse stationery. An advocate for the ministry of mail, Amanda offers card writing workshops and shares writing prompts and tips on Instagram and Facebook. Amanda lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.