I am linking up with my teacher-blogger friend Paula just in time for Valentine's Day!  From December through February, I share the glorious picture books of Jan Brett with my second graders, and the one I am raving about today features  beautiful pen-and-ink, red-and-white tinged, antique-style drawings that help tell the whimsical, heartfelt, and humorous story of The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting.

In this delightful story, Mrs. Bear is tired of missing out on the Valentine's Day fun every year, so she sets her alarm clock to wake Mr. Bear and prepares some lovely gifts for him.  Before sharing this story with my second graders, I always ask the following questions and chart students answers.

How would you feel about missing Valentine's Day every year? 

What would you miss the most?

I then ask my students to use heart-shaped post-it notes and help me create a picture/bar graph that represents their responses.  We then analyze the data gathered, and discuss the different reasons (we would not get to eat chocolate, we would not get any cards or special mail, we would not get to tell our family member and friends how much they mean to us), and compare/contrast the information.  

Once the group has thought mathematically about the story's problem, I take them on a "picture walk" through the text.  I encourage them to predict what is going to happen in the story and explain the clues they've used to make their inferences.  I also ask them to make observations about the different ways the illustrator gives the animals human-like qualities in the story.

After our "picture walk," we discuss how real-life bears miss Valentine's Day because they are hibernating, and brainstorm a list of other animals that also sleep during the winter to reference during our follow-up Writer's Workshop activity. 

When I begin to read aloud, I set our purpose for reading by asking the children to pay close attention to the sequence of  "surprises" that occur in the story.  They take great delight when Mrs. Bear gathers special treats for Mr. Bear, and giggle when she has terrible difficulty rousing him from his deep, deep sleep!
The pair's feast of chocolate covered ants always gets a loud "Eeeew!" response from the group as well!  

The Valentine poems that Mrs. Bear writes for Mr. Bear always delight my students and inspire them to write some fun verses of their own.  They are patterned off of this traditional chant....

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!

....but have a humorous twist!

Red Berries are Red,
Blue Berries are Blue,
Termites are sweet,
And you are, too.

Your teeth are so sharp,
Your claws are so fine,
Dear Mr. Bear,
You are my Valentine.

After reading The Valentine Bears, I provide paper doilies that I find at our local Dollar General store, an assortment of different colors of construction paper,  a variety of writing paper templates, and scraps of fabric, ribbon, paper, lace, sequins, buttons, and craft glue from my sewing and scrapbook paper stash for the students to use to create their own Valentine poetry hearts.  They are given the choice of writing to one of the animals on our hibernation list, to one of their friends, to me, to another teacher, or to a family member.  I wish that I had pictures to share, but did not take any last year and my lesson plans for this week call for us to do this on Tuesday!  I did find this "vintage" photo on Pinterest!

I model both the writing and creating process for my class, and talk about how "in the olden days" (before you could shop at Target or Wal-Mart), folks had to make their own Valentine's cards by investing time, creativity, and thought instead of money into each and every one!

My group really gets a kick out of the sample Valentine poems that I write for my hound dogs, and I've included them below to share with your students or to just make you smile!

Your faces are wrinkled 
And so very old,
Your slobbery kisses,
Are worth more than gold!

Your bellies hang low,
You move very slow,
You are stubborn and smart,
And hold a piece of my heart!

If you need holiday-themed templates for the poetry writing, Promoting Success on TPT has this FREEBIE you can use!  

This book's pages are full of charming illustrations and fun figurative language that will engage and interest your young learners!  It is my absolute favorite!  If your class enjoys it, they might also like these other "beary" good books by Jan Brett!

Also, if you are looking for more great seasonal stories and learning activities, be sure to click below and scroll through this FREE eBook!  My Forever Forest Friends literacy skills pack is on page 16 of this 17-unit resource that is offered exclusively through the blogs during the month of February! 


If you have a favorite picture book you'd like to share, be sure to link up at 

Happy Reading!


  1. Jennifer - thanks for linking up. A great post
    Paula from Paula’s Place and iSURF Maths

    1. Thanks for the opportunity, Paula! I plan to make it a weekly occurence! My picture book collection is vast, and they are my passion!