Valentine’s Love in Your Classroom

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to discuss emotional wellness and student self-care.

Traditionally the emphasis was on card and gift giving, whereas now we often tend to promote love and kindness on Valentine’s Day. Discussing the different types of love, whether for our parents, neighbours or fellow classmates, allows students to think about the huge concept of love and what it means to them. This provides the perfect opportunity to delve into greetings, giving and gifting.


Morning meetings in the classroom often include a greeting and this can take many forms, including a “Good Morning,” a wave or a handshake.

Often the greetings and responses need to be taught and modelled to help students understand the cues and expectations. Modelling helps students understand how to use eye contact and pressure in a handshake, voice intonation in a verbal greeting and facial expression in a wave.


Where I grew up in Northern Ireland, Valentine’s Day was not celebrated, unless in a romantic relationship. As a teenager, it was awkward and to be avoided. As an adult, it was somewhat similar. When I moved to Canada and had my first child, I discovered that Valentine’s here is about showing love to everyone, a celebration that I really enjoy participating in.

Taking time to recognize everyone in a daycare room or classroom helps children understand that although they may not be best friends with everyone, they can give everyone respect. Just as greeting everyone is a way to show respect, giving cards is a similar way to acknowledge respect.

Making Valentine’s cards is a fun part of our routine now and we try to change our designs each year. Make your own Paint Printed Valentine’s Cards with Creative Paint Rollers.

While many of our students do not make cards, the act of writing a name on a purchased card offers a wonderfully authentic writing experience.

Some students may be new to Canada or new to the experience of giving cards, so a communication home to explain our Valentine’s Day customs can help clarify expectations to parents. Another suggestion is to give students an opportunity to write/make cards in class and then everything is done in school, relieving the pressure to complete cards at home.


Gifting can also be part of Valentine’s celebrations and we often make something with students that they can take home and gift to family or friends. This is a wonderful way to demonstrate and focus on the joy of giving.

In the past, we have made Heart Crayons from that box of old crayons you have lurking in a dark corner. As a collaborative effort, this could be achieved by a class quite easily and gifted to a friend or younger sibling.

Having a class party is another way to show love, for food, dancing and fun!

Tips as an educator

  • Be clear about expectations for giving Valentine’s cards/gifts and communicate to students and parents
  • Allow opportunities to talk about Valentine’s day and what it means to each child
  • Encourage children to make Valentine’s cards/gifts for special family members in their lives
  • Emphasize the message rather than the material focus that is often placed on Valentine’s Day
  • Have fun and celebrate love in all its forms
Written by Chris, an elementary and middle school teacher in Pembina Trails School Division.

Ideas from Our Community on Making Your Classroom Comfortable

We asked you how you make your classroom environment feel inviting and your suggestions were inspirational. Cozy, comfortable and inviting seemed to be the most important concept to our community. Shauna made a very valid point: “I want my room to make myself and students feel like home because of how much time we spend there“.

While styles and recommendations varied, a cozy feeling remained top. So how can we create a cozy environment? Here are some of your recommendations:

Soft, cozy seating

Use carpets, soft seating and pillows to make classrooms feel more like a home. Sharon mentioned “Soft and comfortable furnishings“.

Display children’s work
Whether it is a piece of art or a lego construction, displaying our learner’s work helps them to realize we appreciate the effort they have put into their learning experience.

Using children’s names 
Karen labels “cubbies with the name of each student to hang their coats and backpacks“. Adding names to cubbies, hooks or even learning spaces helps children feel part of their learning community.

Natural materials
The belief is the more children interact with natural materials the more they tend to be drawn to and appreciate our natural world. Therefore, for many educators, incorporating the natural world into our classrooms of a high priority.

Bright colours
Colours in the classrooms are very much a personal preference of the educator in the space. Some prefer natural and others prefer bright colours. At Quality Classrooms we recognize both have their place and try to meet the needs of each educator, just as you try to meet the needs of each child you work with.

All different book genres need to be in the classrooms to meet the preferences of our students. Displaying them in a reader-friendly way may make books more inviting. Just spines showing can be intimidating so a combination of display methods will appeal to more readers. Debra enjoys “putting up a big reading tree bulletin board in my library” to encourage book sharing while Cindy mentioned “a comfy corner for reading“.

Photos of children 
Displaying photos helps to ensure children feel they have an important place in the classroom. Including family photos can also help children feel more at home.

Alternative Seating
Alternative (or flexible) seating is here to stay as more educators recognize the importance of student choice and individualized learning. We now have many options available to give our students to best learning spot for them.

Other Ideas

Pamela mentioned the importance of making the entrance area welcoming: ” We try to make our entrance area inviting with a board of staff photos and names, a photo frame of kids at play, and a chalkboard where we write quotes or phrases“.

Important ideas also mentioned by our community include: a growth chart, personal touches, open-ended and quiet activities for everyone, flowers and plants (real or fake), welcome sign, photos of staff, Tanya mentioned: “I love having plants in the classroom for a cozy touch“.

Thank you to our wonderful Quality Classrooms Community for sharing their knowledgeable and inspirational ideas!

Super Strong Magnetic Clips and Hooks

Many teachers have an abundance of magnets on their whiteboard and/or filing cabinet but the effectiveness of these magnets are sometimes rather lacking! I was one of those teachers. I would put work up and it would gradually slide down the board… grr!


I tend to use magnets to stick demonstration work, posters and student work to the board and my filing cabinet. I had been struggling with a collection of bad magnets that were handed down from the previous teacher. I was given the option to try out new magnets I jumped at the chance.

Here you can see our home calendar hanging with a Super Strong Magnetic Hook. The hooks I used at home initially, and they held up my family calendar, wreathes, and write and wipe pockets with chore lists in them. They are strong and hold the family calendar, containing invitations and stickers, with no problem.

In the classroom, they are excellent for pocket charts and flipbooks.

The Super Strong Magnetic Clips are reputed to hold 50 sheets of paper but here they are holding a notepad from Quality Classrooms containing 24 sheets and a card backing very comfortably… yes I am nerdy and counted! so I challenged the clip and it held a catalogue also with no problem. When I get back into my classrooms I will continue the challenge! I don’t know about you but I have used many clips over the years and their holding powers were mostly pretty awful past a couple of sheets of paper. Super strong magnetic clips are very exciting for this teacher!

Here is the low-down on these clips and hooks and the options available from Quality Classrooms:

Available in a set of 4,  Super Strong Magnetic Clips, measure about 4cm in diameter and hold about 20lbs each. Free up more wall and bulletin board space by storing materials on metal filing cabinets and other magnetic surfaces. They hold folders, student portfolios or large stacks of homework, up to 50 pages per clip! Use on whiteboards, file cabinets or any magnetic surface. Allows inflatable models and decorations to hang from the metal frame of a drop ceiling. 

Also available in a white set of 5 White Super Strong Magnetic Hooks, perfect for those of us who love matching items in their classrooms.

If you are looking for strong magnetic hooks and clips, these are the ones for you!

Written by Chris, an elementary and middle school teacher in Pembina Trails School Division

Understanding Storage Furniture

Buying storage furniture can be an overwhelming process. Here at Quality Classrooms we try to give you all the information you need either on our website or catalogue but sometimes extra information is needed. Deciding what is important for each piece can make things easier. Here are a set of questions to ask to help define your storage furniture needs.

  1. Does the storage furniture need mobility?
  2. Does it need to lock?
  3. Do the shelves need to adjust?
  4. Do I need bins/trays?
  5. Do I want solid wood, plywood or laminate?
  6. Do I need access to one side or both?
  7. Am I willing to assemble furniture?
  8. Is warranty important?
  9. Is Greenguard certification important?

These questions help to decide what is a ‘need’ and what is a ‘want’. ‘Needs’ are necessary, whereas ‘wants’ may have some flexibility. Determining your needs and wants is a great way to start when investing in a storage piece that will last for years.

  1. Does the storage furniture need mobility?   Mobility can be a necessary function in shared spaces. If storage needs to be moved regularly, a hinged unit may be preferable. This allows movement without the risk of toppling or the contents falling out. For movement occasionally, ensure casters are present.
  2. Does it need to lock? This is only needed if security or safety is an issue but can be more challenging to retrofit well. 
  3. Do the shelves need to adjust? Adjustable shelves to suit a collection of different objects, such as books, are convenient. Many storage units have shelves which do not adjust, especially if they are made for infant daycare rooms. Ensuring a unit has adjustable shelves, if this is one of your needs, allows for personalization to suit the stored materials. 
  4. Do I need bins/trays? Bins or trays are often wanted for a unit and not all units have bins. If this is essential, check bins/trays are included and the same applies for lids. 
  5. Do I want solid wood, plywood or laminate? Solid wood is the most expensive and laminate the least. If colour scheme or matching is important, check the wood colour and/or the accent colour matches your room. 
  6. Do I need access to one side or both? Some storage furniture is accessible only from the front, others front and back. The unit featured above is accessible from all four sides. Placements in your room dictate the accessibility you need. This 24 Cubbie Tower with Clear Tubs is perfect for the centre of a room, it allows children to access tubs independently from all four sides.
  7. Am I willing to assemble furniture? Furniture that needs assembly is usually cheaper and shipping may also be cheaper as it is transported flat packed. If you are able to assemble, this can be a way to save budget funds.  
  8. Is warranty important? All of our items have a 1 year warranty but furniture can have up to a 15 year warranty. We only select strong and durable furniture, suitable for learning environments. If extended warranty is important to you, ensure you have a piece of furniture with a manufacturer warranty.
  9. Is Greenguard certification important? GREENGUARD Certified products must meet stringent chemical emissions requirements, such as being screened for more than 10,000 volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

There is a great deal to consider when buying a piece of storage furniture. You are investing a sizeable amount of budget funds on something you expect to last a long time. We are happy to be here to help you make the right choices for your needs.

Alternative Seating

Giving students choices on where they can sit is becoming more popular. Why? Allowing students to choose their best way to learn is believed to improve behaviour and academic success. Some students find sitting “criss-cross apple sauce” on the carpet very challenging while others detest sitting in a chair. This can result in standing, rocking unsafely and stooped posture while writing.

The way students are learning has also evolved. Gone are the lessons when students would sit and listen to the teacher lecture for 20-30 minutes and then write what they have learned or complete written exercises for 60 minutes. Our teaching and learning involve more short bursts of learning and activity, catering more to the developing capabilities of our students. Teaching students to know their best way of learning in multiple skills situations is essential. This includes finding the best body position for the learning situation too.

I will be trying alternative seating in my classroom at NEEDS over the next few months and let you know how it is going. Some of the types of seating we will be including is listed below:

Scoop Rockers, a very popular seating choice for under 50 lb


Balance Stool

Spiky Tactile Cushion

What are your experiences of trying alternative seating?