Happy Valentine’s Day to our not-so-wimpy kids!

Tiffany C. writing Valentine's Day cards to her classmates.

What’s Tiffany doing in the photo above? Isn’t it obvious? She’s writing Valentine’s Day messages in the Valentine’s Day cards that she’s about to hand out to her classmates. Tiffany’s going to be receiving a Valentine’s Day card from each of them, too.

Excerpt from 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw' concerning Greg Heffley's V-day card plot. Click through for a slightly larger version of this image.

Not long ago, in Tiffany’s class, we read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, the third installment in author-illustrator Jeff Kinney’s ever-popular Wimpy Kid series of books featuring an chronically maladjusted, slightly neurotic American middle schooler named Gregory Heffley and his mildly dysfunctional family. One of Greg’s escapades in this particular Wimpy Kid volume concerns Valentine’s Day, which just so happens to be bearing down on us.

The proximity of the holiday presented us with a golden opportunity to share a bit of American culture with our students as well as clearing up any lingering confusion that may have impaired their understanding of the Valentine’s-Day-related part of the book that we had read together.

The packs of children's Valentine's Day cards that we used in class.

Throughout the United States, it’s common (especially in elementary school) for children to distribute age-appropriate Valentine’s Day cards to all of their classmates, both male and female. If you’re interested in getting a feel for how this works, you can check out Why Does My Child Have to Give Valentine’s Day Cards to Everyone?, a short Q&A about exchanging Valentine’s Day cards at school.

The two packs of assorted kids’ Valentines that we employed in two of last weekend’s lessons were both class-sized, with twenty-eight cards per box. An extra card, specifically intended to be given to a teacher, was included in the SpongeBob-themed set.

Ryan Y. making out his set of Valentine's Day cards in class.

Ordinarily, young people prepare their cards at home and bring them to school sealed in their envelopes, ready to be distributed during class under teacher supervision. Given our students’ unfamiliarity with Valentine’s Day, however, we thought it best to distribute blank cards in class and walk everyone through the entire process, from addressing them and writing in the them to handing them out, during the same lesson. In the photo above, you can see Ryan working on his Valentines. Sonia is plugging away on hers in the image below.

Sonia C. readying her her set of Valentines.

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Greg hatches and executes a not-so-ingenious plan to tell each of his classmates precisely what he thinks of them. True to his moniker, however, he tries to avoid the consequences of his stunt by leaving the cards unsigned. In real life, of course, Greg would’ve quickly been unmasked as the hurtful cards’ author. Fortunately for Greg, he’s a fictional character inhabiting a rather forgiving universe and he seems to avoid being caught.

Some of Sonia's Valentine's Day cards, signed but not yet addressed or inscribed with Valentine's Day messages.

These three cards of Sonia’s were photographed early on in the process, before she had addressed them or added Valentine’s Day messages, but she’s already signed her name, so she definitely didn’t pull a Heffley.