Valentine’s Day came a little early for Tabitha Hellman’s class at Aubrey’s Brockett Elementary School.
In the days leading up to Feb. 14, her second-graders received Valentine’s Day cards from classrooms across the United States.
Hellman’s class was one of 175 second-grade classrooms that participated in the Great Second Grade Valentine Exchange. Each class mailed Valentine’s Day cards, along with a fact sheet about the class and its community, to other classes in the U.S.
“Here at Brockett, we are such a character-oriented school,” Hellman said. “Being able to show kindness to people we don’t even know is a great lesson.”
Each day for the past week, students have come back from lunch asking Hellman if they got mail. Over the past few days, they received mail from New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and California. The envelopes usually include a Valentine Day’s card created by a second grader and a one-paged fact sheet.
Last Friday, the class received a letter from Ada, Oklahoma. The students assembled in the middle of the room, and Reese Martino was asked to read the decorated card with a bear on the front that said “You’re Beary Sweet” and then the fact sheet about the class in Oklahoma. The fact sheet included information about the Sooner State: The state flower is the Oklahoma Rose and the state bird is the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
“I liked when all the notes started coming back from all over the country,” Reese said. “I felt happy knowing that other people liked us.”
Reese’s favorite letter came from Missouri, a state that she learned about from the exchange.
The exchange was about more than exchanging Valentine’s Day cards.
“I try to make it as academic as possible and include the writing and social studies,” Hellman said.
After the students discussed the letter they received, Hellman took them down the hallway to a map of the United States, where they had connected the cards and fact sheets to the states they come from.
Each student was asked to find Oklahoma on the map, and they discussed where it is located in relation to Texas.
The exchange also was about the students making connections.
“The kids are making connections to what we do in school and what students in other states are doing,” Hellman said.
Some of the students remarked on how other classes were doing similar things, like morning assembly. Others made connections to the states they learned about.
A few of the letters included a Twitter handle so Hellman’s class could stay connected to the schools they received letters from.
It was through Twitter that Hellman heard about the Exchange. She saw a tweet from another second-grade teacher, who was looking for participants for the exchange over winter break. Hellman responded, and her class was put into a group with 20 other classrooms from across the country.
Early in February, each of her 21 students created a Valentine’s Day card for a classroom in their group. They mailed them out along with a fact sheet detailing information about Brockett and Aubrey: including that the classroom pet is Happy the Hamster.
Social media and email helped get the Great Second Grade Valentine Exchange up and running, but the heart of the exchange was students sending and receiving Valentines through the U.S. Postal Service.
Amy Ruggini is the web and communications specialist for the Aubrey ISD.