February is the month for hearts and the celebration of love and friendship. On the occasion of Saint Valentine’s Day, lovers and friends exchange gifts that come from the heart, such as candy, flowers, and cards. During the observation of American Heart Month, many people show their own hearts some love by learning about nutrition and exercise. Help your group enjoy plenty of heartwarming experiences during the cold winter days with some of the activities suggested below.
- FOR VALENTINE’S DAY: Make and display a variety of hearts with different shapes and textures (3-D hearts, decoupage hearts, origami hearts, heart doilies, button hearts). Learn the history and symbolism behind the heart shape. Share some heartfelt memories of a special Valentine’s Day. Talk about gifts that come from the heart: home-cooked meal, love song/poem, handwritten valentine, red roses.
- HEART SONG: Listen to the 1969 hit “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Talk about simple ways to keep love in your heart and make the world a better place.
- CUPID: Share the folklore associated with the Cupid symbol. Listen to the 1961 song “Cupid” and the song “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof. Ask: Have you ever played Cupid? Ever been a matchmaker? Set someone up on blind date? Talk about the pros and cons of blind dates.
- AMERICAN HEART MONTH: Observe American Heart Month with a focus on heart-smart foods. Challenge your group to a nutrition quiz. (See the American Heart Association web site for ideas.) Pass around a heart-shaped box of dark chocolates – or another healthy snack. (Find out who produced the first Valentine’s Day candy in 1868.) Encourage participants to wear red on Wear Red Day, the first Friday in February.
- SWEETHEART SONG: Sing the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” List synonyms for the word sweetheart (examples: heartthrob, beloved, sweetie, ladylove, old flame, steady, love bug, significant other). Reminisce about your first sweetheart. Ask: What gifts did you exchange? Did you ever woo your valentine with a song? What is your favorite love song? Did you write love letters to each other? Have you ever experienced unrequited love?
- HEART WORDS: Ask participants to name some “heart” words that describe the way people behave and react to various situations. (Examples: cold-hearted, soft-hearted, hard-hearted, faint-hearted, half-hearted, big-hearted, heartless)
- HEART SAYINGS: Discuss the meaning of the following “heart” sayings: man after my own heart, a bleeding heart, change of heart, lose heart, bless her heart, wear your heart on your sleeve, a heart-to-heart, eat your heart out, faint of heart, in my heart of hearts, pour your heart out to, to your heart’s content. (Add others to the list.)
- LOVE AND CHANGE: Play the Beatles’ tune “When I’m 64,” or read the words aloud. Encourage the participants to share how love changes over the years – from meeting, to first kiss, to engagement, to marriage, to parenting years, to growing old together. Ask: Do the words of this song ring true, or are they just the fantasy of a young man imagining mature love?
- CARD GAME: Hold a Hearts card game tournament. Serve heart-shaped cookies and cocoa.
- SPIRITUAL: Share thoughts on the following verse from the Bible: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21 – KJV)
- MOVIE TIME: In honor of the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22: Watch an award-winning romantic comedy that “tugs on the heartstrings.” Suggestions: Roman Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Some Like It Hot, It Happened One Night, Sabrina.
- ROMANTIC RECORDS: Dig into The Guinness Book of World Records for some romantic records related to Valentines’ Day. (Examples: oldest love poem, longest kiss, earliest box of Valentine’s Day chocolates)
- POETRY: Discuss the meaning of “learn by heart.” Talk about the benefits of memorization and recitation in school. Ask: Do you remember something you memorized as a child in school? Did you have a recitation bench? What poems do you recall? Recite the short Valentine couplet that begins “Roses are red….” For fun: Write some original Valentine rhyming couplets, and ask for some volunteers to recite the poems.
- PETS: Talk about why pets, especially dogs, are good for the heart. Watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, televised on February 16-17 at Madison Square Garden, and pick your favorites. Invite a dog owner to bring his/her pet to perform some tricks for the group.
- BIRDS: Celebrate National Wild Bird Feeding Month. Make a heart-shaped suet cake for a bird feeder. Learn about the habits of doves and lovebirds, and why they are associated with Valentine’s Day.
VALENTINE’S DAY TRIVIA QUIZ
- One what day is Valentine’s Day celebrated? February 14
- What are the main colors used on Valentine’s Day? Red, pink, and white
- What does an “X” and an “O” on a love letter mean? Hugs and kisses
- According to an old saying, what makes the heart grow fonder? Absence
- What are the names of Shakespeare’s famous “star-crossed lovers”? Romeo and Juliet
- According to Roman myth, what is Cupid’s weapon? Bow and arrow
- Which flower symbolizes true love on Valentine’s Day? Red rose
- Finish this line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love sonnet # 43: “How do I love thee?…” Let me count the ways
- What was the name of the Greek goddess of love? Aphrodite
- Name some famous chocolate makers. Cadbury, Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, Lindt, Godiva (others answers are possible)
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” ~ Washington Irving
“Heart” was written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2015 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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