I love doing a Valentine's Day gift exchange with my middle school class! It's such a fun way to work on functional skills, like making a purchase, thinking about others' interests, manners, and appropriate behavior in the community. I am lucky to work just down the street from a dollar store so every Valentine's Day, we walk down to the store and my students buy a gift for a classmate. Then, we wrap them up and do a gift exchange. So fun, and so much more age appropriate than decorating Valentine mailboxes!
Teaching about Appropriate Gift Giving
We start with a mini lesson about good gifts vs. bad gifts. I pulled images off the Dollar Tree website and we do a sort. I go around the class and everyone votes on whether they think the item would be a good gift or bad gift, and we place it accordingly.
To really get the students thinking about others interests, you could even do quick student interviews and post the results.
Teaching Appropriate Community Behavior
Then, we draw names and everyone has a secret Valentine. Before we go to the store, we talk about appropriate community behavior.
Real Life Money Skills Practice
I ask each student to bring in money and I put their money in an envelope. I like to provide my students with the amount that reflects the money skill they have been learning. My students who have been working on exact change get a random assortment of coins so they have to count out the correct amount, where students who are learning Next Dollar get dollar bills only. I don't like to give the exact amount they will need because I want this to be a real life experience.
After we do our shopping, we put our gifts in gift bags and do a gift exchange at the end of the day. The students always love giving their gift as much as they life receiving one. This is hands down my favorite CBI experience of the year!
What do you do for Valentine's Day in your classroom?