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Victorian Valentines

During Victorian times, valentines were really elaborate! Find out more about these historic valentines and design your own Victorian-style cards.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. How did Valentine’s Day begin? There are several stories. Some say that it goes back to the Roman feast of Lupercus, the god who protected wolves and crops. Others say it comes from the good deeds of Saint Valentine who may have helped a blind girl to see or because he performed marriages in secret. The holiday also is the beginning of spring, when birds choose their mates.
    2. Whatever the origins of this holiday, making and giving fancy valentines became very popular at the turn of the 19th century. There were even books to help people write valentine poems. At about this time, mass-produced cards became more affordable. Study photographs of valentines from this time period. Some museums have collections of these historic documents.
    3. Victorian Valentines had a distinctive look. They were often lacy with paper cutouts trimmed with ribbons and gold leaf. Some had visual or literal puns written on them, such as "bee mine" or "forget me knot." Some had very flowery prose such as "Accept this tribute of my love" or "In love, I hope to conquer." There were often layers of fabric or paper, or something popped up.
    4. Choose decorative craft items such as foil paper, paper doilies, material scraps, ribbon, pressed flowers, feathers, and gift-wrap pieces. Use your imagination! Compose your valentine prose or a poem with Crayola Colored Pencils. Fold the paper of your choice in half to make a card.
    5. Design the card with your colored pencils.
    6. Draw more designs if you wish, or outline areas or borders. Cut out shapes from collage materials and paper in contrasting colors with Crayola Scissors. To cut a simple heart, fold a piece of paper over and cut half of a heart shape, then unfold it. Use the hole that is left from the cutout, too.
    7. Attach shapes and collage materials to your card with Crayola School Glue.
    8. Write your message or poem on the card with Crayola Fine Tip Markers.
    9. Highlight your card with Crayola Glitter Glue. Air dry flat. Happy Valentine’s Day!
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in artworks.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Valentines Day (Holiday Histories) by Kathryn Imler; Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda; The Story of Valentine's Day by Clyde Robert Bulla; The Story of St. Valentine: More Than Cards and Candied Hearts by Voice of the Martyrs

    Encourage students to interview their parents and grandparents to compare contemporary valentines to cards exchanged in previous generations. Consider how valentine cards reflect the times and cultures.

    Students investigate Victorian interiors to get the feel of the decorative style of the time period. Research how the availability of manufactured goods, such as furniture, wallpaper, and ribbon, affected the look of the period.

    Students work in small groups to design original sayings for their Victorian Valentines. Create a list of sayings and post them in the classroom for quick reference. How do these greetings compare to those of the Victorian era?


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  • Creativity.
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  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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