Victorian Valentines

Victorian Valentines lesson plan

During Victorian times, valentines were really elaborate! Find out more about these historic valentines and design your own Victorian-style cards.

  • 1.

    How did Valentine’s Day begin? There are several stories. Some say that it goes back to the Roman feast of Lupercus, the god who protected wolves and crops. Others say it comes from the good deeds of Saint Valentine who may have helped a blind girl to see or because he performed marriages in secret. The holiday also is the beginning of spring, when birds choose their mates.

  • 2.

    Whatever the origins of this holiday, making and giving fancy valentines became very popular at the turn of the 19th century. There were even books to help people write valentine poems. At about this time, mass-produced cards became more affordable. Study photographs of valentines from this time period. Some museums have collections of these historic documents.

  • 3.

    Victorian Valentines had a distinctive look. They were often lacy with paper cutouts trimmed with ribbons and gold leaf. Some had visual or literal puns written on them, such as "bee mine" or "forget me knot." Some had very flowery prose such as "Accept this tribute of my love" or "In love, I hope to conquer." There were often layers of fabric or paper, or something popped up.

  • 4.

    Choose decorative craft items such as foil paper, paper doilies, material scraps, ribbon, pressed flowers, feathers, and gift-wrap pieces. Use your imagination! Compose your valentine prose or a poem with Crayola Colored Pencils. Fold the paper of your choice in half to make a card.

  • 5.

    Design the card with your colored pencils.

  • 6.

    Draw more designs if you wish, or outline areas or borders. Cut out shapes from collage materials and paper in contrasting colors with Crayola Scissors. To cut a simple heart, fold a piece of paper over and cut half of a heart shape, then unfold it. Use t

  • 7.

    Attach shapes and collage materials to your card with Crayola School Glue.

  • 8.

    Write your message or poem on the card with Crayola Fine Tip Markers.

  • 9.

    Highlight your card with Crayola Glitter Glue. Air dry flat. Happy Valentine’s Day!


  • Students research the varied theories about the historic origins of Valentine’s Day.
  • Students study the style and design of valentines from the Victorian era.
  • Students reproduce the Victorian style in their own elaborate valentine cards.


  • Look at pictures of Victorian interiors to get the feel of the decorative style of that time period. Find out how the availability of manufactured goods (furniture, wallpaper, ribbon) affected the look of the period.
  • Students interview their parents or grandparents to compare contemporary valentines to cards exchanged in previous generations. How do valentine cards reflect the times and cultures?
  • Making designs from pinpricks was another Victorian valentine design style. Older students create a pinprick card by poking holes with a pushpin to form a picture.