Fostering Social-Emotional Learning on Valentine’s Day: A Guide for Elementary Teachers 

counseling and social-emotional learning on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about exchanging cards and candy– it’s a wonderful chance for you as elementary teachers to dive into relevant social-emotional learning (SEL) topics with your students! By exploring feelings, friendship, empathy, and showing appreciation for your school counselor (yes, it’s also National School Counseling Week!), you’re working to create a positive classroom and school environment for all. 

4 Topics to Promote Social-Emotional Learning on Valentine’s Day

  1. Feelings
  2. Friendship
  3. Empathy
  4. Appreciation (February is National School Counseling Week)

These 4 topics are relevant and so important to teach to young students. Using books and pre-made resources makes teaching easy on this fun-filled holiday in your elementary classroom!

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Understanding and expressing emotions is a crucial part of social-emotional learning and development, and Valentine’s Day can bring up a variety of feelings in students. Many may feel excited and loved around this time of year, but others may experience feelings of loneliness or sadness. 

Teaching elementary students how to identify and understand their emotions will help them better manage relationships with others and stress. 

color the feelings valentine's day SEL activity

This Valentine’s Day edition of Color the Feelings is a great way to kickstart discussions about feelings with even your youngest of students. This activity allows students to reflect on 5 different common emotions (angry, sad, worried, scared, happy) and learn about ways to cope with them as they color.

Also consider incorporating the book “In My Heart: A Book of Feelings” by Jo Witek to further teaching on this topic. 

counseling feelings book for kids

Book Summary

Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness… our hearts can feel so many feelings! Some make us feel as light as a balloon, others as heavy as an elephant. This children’s book explores a full range of emotions, describing how each emotion feels physically and inside, with language that is lyrical but also direct to empower readers to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.

By talking about feelings on Valentine’s Day, you help students learn self-awareness and empathy towards others who may be experiencing different emotions. This works to create a more supportive and inclusive classroom and school environment for everyone!


In elementary school, Valentine’s Day focuses on the love one feels for friends, so it’s a perfect time to talk about friendship with your students! 

Teaching students the qualities of a good friend helps them cultivate healthy relationships both now and later in life. 

friendship activity social-emotional learning on Valentine's Day

Students can Build a Cupid Friend to reinforce their learning about friendship. This activity takes about 30 minutes to complete with a small or large group. The goal is for students to recognize positive traits in a person that would make them a good friend to have. 

Finish up the activity by reading the book “How to Help a Cupid” by Sue Fleiss!

how to help a cupid book for kids about friendship

Book Summary

Will you spot a Cupid this Valentine's Day? If you do, will you be ready to help him spread love and kindness? By being observant, helpful, and friendly, you can lend Cupid a hand, and together you can make special cards and gifts to show all your favorite people how much they mean to you. As students identify ways to help Cupid, they are practicing good friendship skills! 

By focusing on friendship during Valentine’s Day, students learn the importance of loyalty, kindness, and empathy as they interact with their peers. This understanding leads to a sense of belonging and connectedness between students in your classroom!


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, so you can see why this is another great topic to discuss during this special time of year! 

The done-for-you resource “Walk in My Valentine Shoes” is the perfect activity to help students practice empathy and perspective-taking as they imagine themselves in Cupid’s shoes.  

empathy Valentine's Day activity for elementary students social-emotional learning

Continue teaching by reading the book "All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow" by Peter H. Reynolds, which emphasizes the power of empathy and kindness.

children's book about empathy for Valentine's Day

Book Summary

This heartfelt celebration of love follows Poppy and Little One as they discuss all the things they need in life like a really good pillow or a roof over their heads but most important of all, love. Despite the challenges they face as a storm sweeps away their home, this duo never lose their optimism because in the end, they know that all they truly need is love— and each other. As they consider each other’s perspectives, they also practice empathy!

By engaging students in activities and stories that highlight empathy, students learn to recognize and validate their peers’ experiences. This encourages greater compassion and understanding within your classroom!

Counselor Appreciation

And finally, discuss ways you and your students can express appreciation to your school counselor this month!

*In case you didn’t already know, the first week in February is National School Counseling Week. 

School counselors play a HUGE role in supporting the students in your classroom and school as they develop positive social-emotional skills. They also provide necessary guidance, resources, and a safe space. School counselors help so many students to express themselves as they experience loss, challenges, or big emotions. 

Taking time to recognize school counselors at Valentine’s Day teaches your students about gratitude. It also highlights the importance of building up one’s community. 

counselor appreciation cards social-emotional learning on Valentine's Day

Use these FREE School Counselor Valentine’s Cards as a fun and easy way to get your students involved in expressing their appreciation! Follow up the activity by reading “Words to Love By” by Rick Warren.

children's book about appreciation

Book Summary

This book is both inspirational and heartfelt. It encourages children to use their words to lift others up, forgive, express gratitude, heal, and love. 

School counselors are important members of the school community, and it’s important to reinforce this idea to your students!

This Valentine’s Day as you incorporate engaging, low-prep activities and exciting children’s books about feelings, friendship, empathy, and appreciation, you are working to create a supportive classroom environment where everyone feels valued and understood! Embrace the opportunities you have to promote positive social-emotional learning on Valentine's Day with confidence— because you can!

You might also be interested in reading:

5 EASY Spring Counseling and SEL Ideas for Elementary Students

Teaching Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Children's Books about Emotions - Heart and Mind Teaching 

You might also be interested in these products:

Walk in My DIVERSE Shoes - Empathy Activity

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum BUNDLE  

Social Emotional Learning on Valentine's Day

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