Tired of the same old Valentine’s Day crafts? Kids do love the cut-and paste fun of Valentine’s Day projects, but once they are in the middle grades, kids are ready for something a little different. This year, how about a project that reflects the ancient origins of Valentine’s Day? I got this idea from the picture book Saint Valentine written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.
Not much is known about the real Saint Valentine, but there are legends that have been passed down. Saint Valentine relates one of those legends. It’s about a physician in Ancient Rome named Valentine who cured a young girl of her blindness. Part of the tale tells how he sent her a secret message with a flower that provided the first colors she was able to see. Maybe that message was the first Valentine.
The picture book is illustrated with cut paper mosaics which relates to early Christian art of Saint Valentine’s time. Mosaics actually go back to the ancient Greeks and even farther, and mosaic art was prominent in a number of ancient cultures including the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world, so this project might be a good tie-in with world history.
To do a mosaic craft project, you’ll just need paper in lots of colors and glue. The paper could be construction paper or colorful pages from old magazines. Students cut the paper into tiny pieces and then arrange the pieces to create an image. You might want to have them do an image inspired by the book, or just a Valentine’s Day idea of their own. To start, have students look closely at one small image, or part of an image, in the book – for example the loaf of bread or the crocus flower – to see how the colors are arranged. From there, it’s all up to their own creativity. Mosaics are fun because they are an art project that anyone can do. Even kids who can’t draw will enjoy working on one of these colorful Valentine’s Day creations.
Linked with The Literary Maven for “On My Bookshelf”, Focused on Fifth for “What Are You Reading?”, and Reading Toward the Stars for “Book Talk Thursday.”