Tucked away my family archives are a few boxes that don’t hold much in the way of hard-core genealogical information, unless you count the occasional handwritten address or dated photo. I call this my Cabinet of Curiosities to make it sound semi-official. But, really it’s just bits and pieces of stuff people saved that I like because it reminds me of someone or something, or seems interesting, or just plain old odd. So I save it a bit longer.
I said that the contents doesn’t hold much value as research evidence, but that isn’t exactly true. My dear Aunt was a career elementary schoolteacher, and the proof is in the bits and pieces of ephemera that most folks throw away. She loved second and third graders, especially, and they must have loved her dearly. When she passed away, we found dozens of handmade gifts and trinkets carefully bestowed on her throughout her four decades in the classroom.
Of all the little vases, handmade potholders, and funny animal figures, my favorites are the teacher valentines. I remember the excitement of examining the packages of classroom cards on display at the grocery store and selecting a box for the Valentine’s Day card exchange at school.
Today’s students are cheated — most classroom packs don’t include envelopes! It was so fun, and laborious, to write each school mate’s name on the envelope, and not nearly as personal when we grew older and just stuffed unaddressed cards in each student’s box.
Classroom valentines always included a special valentine for the teacher, sometimes two! This card was often larger and printed with a special sentiment. Of course, some teacher’s pets gave gifts, but the cards made it simple to remember Teacher without a lot of fuss or expense. I thinking Auntie kept every one she ever received.
Auntie’s teacher valentines reminded me that she was a link in a long family tradition of school teachers. Her own Aunt Mercy taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the Colorado mountains. And my dad’s mother taught primary grades in Nebraska and Southern California. I picked up the chalk to continue the family tradition as a high school teacher, and my daughter-in-law is a teacher today.
A Valentine For Teacher
In honor of my educator ancestors I created a wreath of heartfelt good wishes using my Aunt’s vintage teacher valentines. I really should add a few more photos to the mix, but without the pictures this wreath would make a simple gift for any favorite teacher.
To make it easier, I’ve scanned Auntie’s cards and created a free printable PDF you can use to make your own wreath highlighting the teachers in your family tree. Share a photo of your completed project on Pinterest or Facebook! I’d love to see your creation.
How to Make a Teacher Valentine Wreath
Step 1: Supplies
- Small styrofoam wreath
- Wide ribbon (I used a scrap of fabric ribbon)
- Straight pins
- Valentines (FREE Printable Teacher Valentines)
- Teacher photos (optional)
Step 2: Cover the Base With Ribbon
Wrap the styrofoam wreath with the ribbon to completely cover the base.
Step 3: Secure Ends With Pins
Secure the ends with straight pins.
Step 4: Arrange and Attach Valentines
Arrange the valentines around the edges of the wreath using straight pins to secure them to the wreath. You could use glue, but pins will let you adjust the placement easily. Also, I didn’t want to permanently damage my vintage paper valentines.
Step 5: Add Teacher Photos (opt)
(See completed wreath in blog header photo) Add school-snapshot size photos of your family teachers. Use an online photo-editor like PicMonkey or Canva to crop into school-photo sizes. I adjusted for black-and-white to give all the images a uniform vintage 1950’s look.
Happy Hearts Day!