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Biology of the Human Heart: A Valentine's Day STEAM Activity

Valentine's Day is often associated with activities such as card making and love heart creations.   However, what about using the opportunity of Valentine’s Day to not only explore love and emotions, but as an opportunity to take a STEAM deep dive into the fascinating world of biology and the human heart? Early childhood education is the perfect time to introduce young minds to the wonder and awe of the human body. In this blog post, we'll explore a fun and educational Valentine's Day activity centered around the biology of the heart.

A Vital Organ and a Symbol of Love

Begin by explaining to the children that the heart is not only a symbol of love but it is also a biological organ which has a very important role to play by pumping our blood around our body. You can also share simple and age-appropriate stories about love and explain how we feel our emotion of love in our heart too.


Anatomy Lesson and Craft Hearts

Discuss how love hearts which we use to represent the emotion of love look different to the biological heart which we have inside our body. Engage the children in a hands-on activity by creating paper hearts that represent love while also showing children age appropriate images of the human heart and its different parts.  

Introduce STEAM words such as “pump, vein, artery, blood, oxygen” to explain to the children how the heart pumps our blood through our veins to bring oxygen to all of the different parts of our body.  Use pictures with different colours to distinguish between the chambers and vessels. Gather various materials to engage children in an arts and craft activity to make their own human heart from paper, cardboard, straws etc.  As they assemble their heart crafts, discuss the basic anatomy of the heart and emphasise the importance of each part in keeping us healthy and alive.


Heartbeat Rhythms

Turn the learning experience into a musical rhythmic adventure by introducing the concept of heartbeat. Encourage the children to feel their own pulses and explain that the heartbeat is like a love song our heart plays to keep us alive. Introduce toy stethoscopes (more lovely STEAM language!) and explain to children how healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses can use this tool to listen to our heartbeat and to check our health and to help make us better when we are sick. Incorporate music and movement by having a "heartbeat dance" where the children move to the rhythm of their own heartbeats.  Recognising rhythms and beats in music is a wonderful way to support early maths concepts too! 


Healthy Heart Snacks

Discuss the importance of taking care of our hearts through a healthy lifestyle. Create heart-healthy snacks like fruit kebabs or heart-shaped sandwiches. Use this opportunity to talk about the role of food and nutrition in maintaining a strong and healthy heart and to encourage children to try a variety of new foods.


Heart Storybooks

Source a variety of heart related books which can be read to children.  Choose books which explain about the anatomy of the heart and how it works in an age appropriate way through words and images.  To reinforce the concept of the heart as an organ of the body and also where we hold and experience love and emotions, source books which can explain the concept of our feelings too.

Heartbeat Art

Unleash children’s creative side through a heartbeat art project.  Provide them with lots of paint, paper, and a stethoscope. You can provide individual pieces of paper for each child to create their own heartbeat art, or perhaps tape a long piece of paper horizontally to a wall or fence and encourage the children to collaborate on a group project.  Incorporate the "heartbeat dance" with music too and as children listen to music and to their own heartbeats using the stethoscope, encourage them to express the rhythm through their artwork. This not only reinforces the concept of the rhythmic nature of the heartbeat but also allows for individual and group artistic expression.

Valentine's Day in early childhood education can be much more than just exchanging cards and chocolates. By incorporating STEAM and the biology of the heart, educators can spark curiosity, foster children’s sense of wonder and awe and lay the foundation for a lifelong appreciation of science and the symbols of love and emotion. This engaging and educational STEAM approach to Valentine's Day ensures that children not only learn about love affection but also about the amazing wonders of the biological heart within our own bodies.

About the Author:

Paula Walshe is a published author, PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in ECE at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her PhD research focusses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths) in ECEC.

In 2023 Paula published her first book entitled "Síolta in Practice" which is a guide to implementing Síolta quality standards in ECEC. It is published by Boru Press and is available here.

Paula has also co-founded a Twitter community of practice page and podcast @ECEQualityIrl . You can listen to the most recent ECE Quality Ireland podcast here.

You can contact Paula or learn more about her work here. LinkedIn: Paula Walshe / Twitter: @walshe_paula / Instagram: @digitalearlychildhoodeducator

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