The Great Cupid Caper

Monday, February 3, 2020
What's more exciting than a classroom Valentine's Day party you ask? Well, it's solving "The Great Cupid Caper!"  We all had a great time figuring out who stole our valentines, and it really added engagement and academics to our Valentine's Day party!



THE PREMISE:
Cupid has a catastrophe!  Someone broke his arrows, took his magic flying dust, and locked up our Valentine's Day gifts!  He needs help to solve the Great Cupid Caper and save Valentine's Day!




BEFORE THE PARTY
A week or so before Valentine's Day, we put out a parent sign-up sheet asking for food and supply donations as well as parent volunteers.  This party could definitely done without donations and parent volunteers if needed, but it nice to have them.

We also had each student make a valentine bag to hold his or her valentines. We ordered the bags from Amazon, but lunch sacks would have worked just as well. The bags were super simple to make and went along with our theme! We printed the hearts, arrows, and name plates on different colors of copy paper and let the kids choose which colors they wanted.  The wings are each student's hands traced and cut out. We helped them trace their hands.  Cutting out the pieces was great fine-motor practice; however, some kids did need help cutting out their hands.



The day before the party, we sent home a "Breaking News" note.


THE DAY OF THE PARTY
As soon as the students arrived on Valentine's Day, we showed them a "Breaking News" video.  We videoed a "news report" (Michelle in a detective hat reading a note from Cupid) in front of green butcher paper and used the Green Screen Do Ink app on our phone to create a Breaking News background.   We uploaded it to our computer and showed it via our projector.  You most certainly could do this without a video. Reading a note Cupid left would be just as exciting and impactful.

Below is what Michelle said on the video and what was on the note.

"This just in. We received a note from Cupid, and this is what it says."

Dear Students,

There has been a catastrophe!  As you know, my job is to spread love around the world; however, someone has broken all of my arrows, taken my magic flying dust, and locked up your valentine gifts.  I need you to make me new arrows,  find a way for me to fly, and crack codes to unlock the gifts.  Do you think you can help me fix the Great Cupid Caper, and save Valentine's Day? I know you can do it!

We used a clear box to put our Valentine's Day gifts for our students inside. We had it wrapped up with large plastic chain and locked with a padlock. We got both from The Dollar Store.  You could also use a cardboard box wrapped in valentine paper or even a valentine gift bag.

In order to "solve" the Great Cupid Caper, the students had to complete stations (activities) to earn a key. When the students first came in, we had a manila envelope taped to our front white board (see picture below). We did not have the paper keys taped up yet, just the envelope and the black lines. Inside the envelope we had 6 paper keys (laminated) and one real key to unlock our treats.  At the end of each station round (about 15 minutes), we pulled out a key. After taping up the 6th and final key, we pulled the actual key out of the manila envelope which unlocked the padlock to our gifts.



THE STATIONS:
Listed below are the stations we did at our party and a few we planned, but decided not to do in the end because of time.  Most of them we created; however, any activities you already have would be fine. Based on our time limitations and parent volunteers, we chose to do six stations.  You could definitely do this with less or even more stations!

1. Cupid's Broken Arrow: Since Cupid’s arrows were broken, students had a challenge to engineer a new arrow for Cupid.  We provided craft sticks, rubber bands, string, tape, clothespins, straws, and construction paper. Students used a planning sheet to draw their design before building their arrows.  They then tried out their design by throwing the arrows at a target. When necessary they improved their design and tried again.  This station would have been just as effective without the planning sheet.  The students can draw/write their plans on plain paper, a whiteboard, or not at all.  Our students enjoyed working on their own arrows, but they could have also worked in pairs.

Cupid's Arrow Planning Sheet

Cupid's Arrow

Cupid's Arrow
Cupid's Arrow Target

2. Heartbreaker CVC Puzzles: We created these CVC puzzles in a heart shape, but any CVC picture/word matching activity would work. Students read the CVC word and found the picture that matched to complete the puzzle.  We also had them write the CVC word on a recording sheet next to the corresponding picture. You could also have the students write the word on a white board or Boogie Board, or not have them write the CVC word at all. One set of 20 puzzles for each two to three students worked well.



3. Heart Math Dominoes: We created these fun heart math dominoes, but again any math station or valentine's type activity would work.  The students did this station independently. We knew that we would not have a lot of parent volunteers, so we wanted most of our stations to be independent. With this activity, students play dominoes by matching the same quantities. These dominoes consist of pictures of objects, ten frames, addition number sentences, numerals, and picture addition cards. We only used one set up dominoes with a group of six students. We divided the cards up by giving each pair of students seven cards each and had them play together in partners.  You could also print out enough sets, so that you could have the students play in pairs. If your students are not ready for addition fact number sentences, you could remove those type of “dominoes” from the set.  

Heart Math Dominoes

4. Cracking Cupid's Code: This is a Write the Room activity, but the cards can also be used in a sensory tub or in a basket at a table. Our kiddos love to be able to walk around the room and “hunt” for the cards. We hang the cards all over our classroom.  Students find the card, match the card number to the responding number on the recording sheet. They then write the beginning sound of each picture on the recording sheet to figure out the sight word.   We used all 24 cards and copied the recording sheet back to back. You could also only do 12 of the cards and use just one side of the recording sheet. This is a great independent activity, but it can also be done in pairs or even small group.

Cracking Cupid's Code

Cracking the Code - Write the Room Style

5. Help Cupid Fly: Since Cupid’s magic dust had been taken and he could no longer fly, we had to come up with a way to help him. The students colored a picture of Cupid (if you need to save time, he can stay uncolored), blew up a balloon (do not tie), and attached Cupid to the balloon with a piece of tape. We then attached the balloon to the straw on the zipline (see explanation of how to set up the zipline below) and let go of the end of the balloon!  It was really exciting to see how fast and far Cupid could fly. Sometimes, we did one Cupid at a time. Other times, we raced against each other by using both of the ziplines. We discussed how each Cupid (balloon) behaved a little differently and what could have caused this.  “Which Cupid went faster? What was different between that Cupid and the other Cupids?” We then explained to the students that the air on the inside of the balloon was pushing against the air on the outside of the balloon which causes a force, which creates motion (thrust). 


To set up the ziplines stretch one or two pieces of string, yarn, or twine as tight as possible about five to eight feet apart. We set up two lines, one on top of the other, so that we could have races. One would have worked as well. Make sure to slide the straws onto the string prior to mounting.  We used staples and tape to attach the strings to the wall.

Helping Cupid fly

6. "Cooking" Cupid's Arrow: The students “cooked” Cupid's arrow by adding one strawberry, four to five grapes, and a mandarin orange to a bamboo skewer to make an arrow.  It was a yummy and healthy treat! This is a great way for kids to practice following directions and to learn how to make a healthy treat.  To ”pump up” the academics, you could also have the students write out a recipe card that they could take home. 

Cooking up Cupid's Arrow
7. Cupid Directed Draw: We show the students step by step how to draw Cupid. We model drawing it at the same time. We try whenever possible to use standard shapes or shapes of familiar objects in our directions (”Draw a circle. Draw an upside-down smile.”). We have our students draw with a black crayon, and then we also usually direct the coloring as well.  It is our chance to teach them how to color.  Depending on how we are going to use the final product (bulletin board, memory book, sending home), we may have the students draw in pencil and then we will trace with black Sharpie. The kids will still color in the picture. To finish off the background, you can have the students color it or use watercolors to paint it. 

We usually have a directed writing component as well.  It is a great time to work on writing conventions and correct letter formation.  Depending on the difficulty of drawing and the amount of writing, this activity may need to be broken into two different centers or completed at a different time. Our kids’ directed drawings always turn out adorable. 


Cupid Directed Drawing and Writing

8. QR Code Valentine Stories: We found fun, kindergarten-appropriate valentine stories being read aloud on YouTube and made QR codes that linked to them using a free QR code generator program off of the internet.  You could also use another online read aloud app (e.g., Epic, Storyline online, Vooks, ...), or simply put valentine books in a tub for the students to "read." Using a device with a QR reader on it (e.g., tablet, iPad, old iPhone), students can scan the QR codes to listen to read alouds of four different valentine stories.  FYI: the QR codes take the students straight to a YouTube video of the stories being read aloud. FYI: once on YouTube, the kids can access other YouTube videos.  Ours usually don’t, but it is possible. We cut the QR code cards apart and put them on rings. We usually make enough sets for each student or a pair of students per group. Laminating helps the QR code cards stay nicer longer; however, the glare sometimes makes them hard to scan. You can also hang the cards in a central location for kids to scan or not cut them apart. We find it is easier for kids to get the code they want when they are cut apart.

Valentine Story QR Codes

Once all stations were finished, we pulled out the final key and unlocked our box of valentine treats.  It was our valentine to our students.  We filled a Ziploc baggie with a packet of hot cocoa and some marshmallows.  Then, we added a topper that thanked them for saving Valentine's Day and to enjoy the Cupid Cocoa.  We printed the topper on white copy paper (card stock would work too).  Then, we folded them in half and stapled them to the baggies. You certainly do not need to give them a treat, but it was fun and inexpensive.



The kids had such a great day full of fun and learning.  We had a great day too!  It is by far, one of our favorite days, but we say that about all of our special days. This party can be done very easily with valentine activities you already have by just adding the note, the keys, and locking up the treats. If you are interested in having the station activities we did, CLICK HERE to take you to the complete party in our TPT store.



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