The preschoolers at Lemberg Children’s Center are practicing drawing hearts, pouring glitter and contemplating the question we all do this time of year—what does love mean to you?

This week, they are preparing for their annual Valentine’s Day bake sale. Students are busy making cards and signs to decorate the event, and to give to their families and classmates. Meanwhile, parents are busy baking treats.

The Valentine’s Day bake sale started about 20 years ago at the suggestion of a student at the center. Lemberg also holds bake sales on Halloween and in late spring, but the Valentine’s Day sale serves a special purpose. “[We] use it as a way for us in the school to talk about the ways in which we love each other and care for each other and what that means,” said Howard Baker, the executive director at Lemberg.

The kids choose something to buy for the classroom with the bake sale earnings—which usually total about $1,300. In the past, the earnings have gone to both a new playground fund and a scholarship fund that assists families with financial aid. “It buys a lot of books,” Baker said.

The two preschool teaching fellows, Lori Hobson and Brandeis alum Rachel Downs ’12, are in charge of coordinating and walking the Voyagers and Navigators—two mixed-age preschool classrooms—to and from the different locations on campus during the bake sale.

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By Grace Kwon/the Justice

Hard at work: Members of the Voyager classroom draw and glue shapes of hearts to Valentine's Day cards that will be sold at the Lemberg Valentine's Day bake sale.

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By Grace Kwon/the Justice

Festive Fun: One voyager [lower left] carefully spells out "Happy Valentine's Day" with the help of a teacher and the other [above right] writes the alphabet in green to decorate his card.

“The teachers are responsible for making sure all of this happens ... and structuring our days on the bake sale days to make sure that all children get a chance to walk to campus and go to many of the buildings, including, sometimes, the offices of children's parents who work at Brandeis,” Downs wrote in an email to the Justice.

Families of the children and office staff are also involved in the bake sale and take turns being on-site at the bake sale. Even the families of the toddler and infant classrooms get involved by participating in baking and selling.

“Children in the preschool program help their families make bake-sale items in the days preceding,” Downs wrote, adding that almost every family participates in some way. “They make art for the bake sale the weeks leading up to it in their classrooms, and on the days of the bake sale they walk in small groups to campus to help sell what they have been working on!”

In the weeks leading up to the bake sale, teachers begin to introduce the topic of Valentine’s Day through art activities and conversations. “Some of the families talk about Valentine's Day at home,” Downs wrote. “At school we have been asking them questions about love, and what they think love is. Common answers are, ‘Playing with friends!’ or ‘A hug!’”

The preschoolers have a good understanding of what will be happening this week. “Some children are already excited, and some will continue to get excited as the bake sale gets closer,” Downs wrote.

JustFeatures sat down with some of the Voyagers from Downs' classroom to ask them their thoughts on Valentine’s Day. They were busy at work preparing handmade cards to be sold at the bake sale:

justFeatures: Do you like Valentine’s Day?

Silas, age 5: It’s my third favorite holiday after Halloween and my birthday.

JF: How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

Marco, age 5: I’m decorating my room and everything else!

Silas: We get to leave Lemberg and sell cards like on Halloween.

JF: What are you going to draw on your Valentine’s Day card?

Kaya, age 5: I need to put a heart, because Valentine’s Day is about hearts.

JF: What color is Valentine’s Day?

Liliana, age 4: Happy!

Marco: Pink and Purple.

Silas: Red, white, and pink, because I know it is.

JF: What do you think love is?

Marco: Love is something that you share because it’s Valentines Day.

Silas: Love is peace and happiness.

The bake sale will come together in the Shapiro Campus Center this Thursday and Friday The students will also make stops at the International Business School and the administration building to spread Valentine’s Day cheer.

-Brianna Majsiak contributed reporting