Inside: Find out how to use Valentine’s Day projects to keep your students excited about learning. There’s nothing quite like a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest to get the full attention and engagement of your students!
I’ll admit it. I have a mild obsession with cupcakes. Not only are they tasty, but they can be oh-so-pretty, too! When I was designing a set of Valentine’s Day activities for students, I just knew I had to bring cupcakes into the mix somehow.
If you are looking for Valentine’s Day projects that will get your students really excited, while still keeping things academic, this Create a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest fits the bill. Take a look at how you can have your own cupcake contest activity in your classroom this Valentine’s Day.
This project is perfect for teachers who are looking for ways to really engage students with a high-interest activity. I mean, cupcakes…. who can resist them?
First, kick off your Valentine’s Day Project by showing students photos and images of a variety of Valentine’s Day cupcakes. These can be found with a quick Google search for images. As a class, make a master list of the elements that make an outstanding cupcake. Keep that list displayed throughout the activity.
Then, in groups, brainstorm and make lists of what kind of cupcake students might make to enter in a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest. Then, have them make another list of all the supplies they would need to create their contest entry.
Once the unit is properly introduced, your students will be excited and motivated to create the winning cupcake entry!
From this point, you can choose to have students work in small groups to complete the project or you can have students work independently. Keep in mind, however, that students working in groups may develop communication skills as a result of working together.
Ideally, a Project Based Learning unit will include certain key components, such as academic content, inquiry, a driving question, student choice, and a public audience. Here is the unit guide I use with my own Create a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest project.
By planning out the project ahead of time, you can easily meet those PBL expectations. Not sure what project based learning is? This post answers your PBL questions!
While this project is very fun, it also should be academically aligned and should allow for problem-solving opportunities.
My Valentine’s Day Projects have 3 goals:
- Research to find a winning cupcake recipe.
- Write an informational paragraph to explain how to decorate a winning cupcake.
- Complete an application to enter the cupcake contest.
Here are some more details and photos of how students work through each of the 3 goals:
1. Cupcake Recipe Research
You can either provide blank paper or my pre-made recipe template for students to write their recipe. Students will have to do some research to find a great cupcake recipe that could possibly be a prize-winner.
Once they have written their recipes, they can be required to expand the recipe for a larger batch of cupcakes. This requires students to either add or multiply measurements, which might include fractions. This part isn’t necessary, but is a GREAT real-life math exercise.
2. How to Decorate a Winning Cupcake Informational Writing
For this part of these Valentine’s Day projects, students are required to write a well-developed paragraph on how to decorate a prize-winning cupcake. Use a prewriting organizer to help students sequence the steps. I like allowing students to publish their writing in more creative ways, so I use a flip book format. Lined paper would be just fine, though!
I also think that when students can refer to a scoring rubric while writing their paragraphs, it helps them to do an even better job and meet the criteria for an outstanding project. (All scoring rubrics for my Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest PBL Unit are included for you.)
3. Contest Application
This is a great chance to help students understand that we write for different purposes. Through this writing activity, students will be required to follow written directions and provide information about their contest entry. It is a perfect real-life writing opportunity!
Other Cupcake Contest Valentine’s Day Projects:
Of course, I always like to throw in a few other bonus activities that I know students will enjoy. Some other ideas of things you can do during this unit are:
- Planning the Cupcake Design
- Making a List of Contest Supplies
- Designing a Display Area
- Sweet Selfies
- Cupcakes for a Crowd (Addition or Multiplication of Fractions)
- Cupcake Calculations (Math Word Problems)
- A Winning Recipe (research, writing)
- Advertisement Poster
Students seriously love this real-life math project and writing project! Here are some photo examples of the ideas I listed above:
In addition, I’ve even included a bonus Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest banner and award certificates in my ready-to-go packet on TpT.
Remember that you are free to make the project as big or as simple as you feel is best for your students. The key is to provide them opportunity for collaboration and problem-solving.
While some PBL units will require research, this Valentine’s Day project based learning unit does not demand it. It definitely can have its place, though. Personally, I would have students do research and read reviews for different cupcake recipes.
I love these kinds of activities and Valentine’s Day projects because they are related directly to real-life situations where students need particular skills in order to be successful.
When the amazing feedback teachers left for my Halloween Project Based Learning Unit asked for more ready-to-go packets just like it, I decided to add this Valentine’s Day unit.
The best way to bring the unit to a close, of course, is to actually have a cupcake contest, complete with all the trimmings. It would be the perfect replacement for a classroom Valentine’s Day party. Your students will remember it for years to come!
My ready-to-go, printable Create a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest Unit includes all the pieces you see in the photos above, plus a few more. All scoring rubrics, templates, and printables are included! I created it keeping your busy schedules in mind, so it’s basically print and go. Isn’t NO PREP a great thing?
Have you tried any project based learning activities in your own classroom? I would love to hear about them!
To learn more about what Project Based Learning is, check out this great Edutopia PBL Page. You can also find more great Project Based Learning Activities for your classroom. Make sure to check out these Winter PBL Ideas, and these holiday themed Project Based Learning Activities for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Happy teaching, and enjoy those yummy cupcakes.
P.S. If you are looking for more Valentine’s Day activities to keep your students engaged and working on important academic skills, then look at these 8 Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids That Won’t Stress You Out. Fun for the kids and no stress for the teacher – that’s a Valentine’s Day Win-Win!
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