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Mix up your curriculum by celebrating a few of the special May days and holidays. Even though many of them are pretty trivial, the variety will mix up the regular routine and increase student interest. Some simple modifications will make it easy to work many of these holidays right into the regular curriculum. Other holidays can provide a break in the routine with a special snack or lesson. Finally, you can adapt a number of the suggestions for the holidays here for any grade level. For example, while older elementary students will write sentences or paragraphs, younger elementary students can draw pictures.
If you prepare or serve any kind of food or drink for a May holiday, check student allergies beforehand and make adjustments accordingly.
May 1st: Tuba Day
- If possible, attend a local orchestra concert that includes a tuba. Alternatively, invite a tuba player to come play for the school.
- Enjoy tuba recordings on CD and/or online. Play recordings during independent student work time. Have students search for tuba recordings on YouTube. Challenge students to look for non-classical pieces, such as covers of pop songs.
- Learn about the history of the tuba.
- The Tuba (mmdelrosario.hubpages.com)
- History of the Tuba
- Tubby the Tuba Official Web Site Home Page
- The Instruments of the Orchestra - Lesson Plans
May 3rd: National Two Different Colored Shoes Day
- Invite students to wear two different colored shoes today.
- Discuss the pros and cons of this fashion choice. For example, is it comfortable? Is it distracting?
- Have students draw pictures of and/or write sentences about the shoes that they chose to wear and why they chose them. For example, did they pick two of their favorite shoes? Were they trying to make the craziest combinations that they could?
- bill felty: national two different colored shoes day
- National Two Different Colored Shoes Day
- Changing Times with Crocs Shoes
May 4th: Orange Juice Day
- Learn about the history of orange juice and the health benefits of oranges and orange juice.
- Make your own orange juice and enjoy it with lunch or a snack.
- Do an orange juice taste test. You can use homemade juice in the comparison or stick with store bought juices. Graph and discuss the results.
- History of Orange Juice
- Orange vs. Orange Juice - Is orange juice as good as an orange?
- Orange Juice--From the Tree to the Glass! Second Grade Activity. Schools of California Online Resour
- Recipe: Momma's Orange Juice Cake
May 6th: No Homework Day
- Give your students a break today and don't assign any homework.
- Have a discussion about the pros and cons of homework. Do your students think that it does have any merit?
- Have older students complete a writing prompt about homework. This is a great topic for persuasive essays. Brainstorm reasons why teachers should or should not assign homework.
May 9th: National Miniature Golf Day
- While I am not a big advocate of non-academic field trips, an end of the year miniature golf outing can be a fun option. For older students, there are numerous teaching opportunities for math and physics that can be tied in to miniature golf. Take advantage of them.
- Research miniature golf courses online and watch videos of difficult holes. Have students consider what makes some holes much tougher than others.
- Have students work individually, in pairs, or in groups to design miniature golf holes. Consider aesthetics as well as difficulty. Have older students incorporate math skills into this assignment to create realistic dimensions for their holes.
- Lesson 2: Conceptualizing the Golf-Hole Design | Edutopia
- Strange Miniature Golf Courses - Pirates, Dinosaurs, and Halloween Haunted Golf
- Miniature Golf Printable (K - 8th Grade) - TeacherVision.com
May 11th: Eat What You Want Day
- Work as a class to design a lunch or a snack that appeals to everyone in the class. Consider fun food and beverages that you can make as a group. Carry through with this later in the week or month.
- Have students draw pictures and/or write sentences about what they would eat for a day. Consider breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks. Encourage students to be as detailed as possible and to consider why they would or would not choose certain foods and drinks.
- Discuss food moderation and why the occasional indulgence is okay. This is a perfect topic to include in a nutrition lesson plan or unit.
- Clean Eating: How You Can Take Easy Steps to Clean Up Your Diet
- Four Best Children's Books on Healthy Eating Habits
- MyPyramid for Kids Classroom Materials
May 13th: I Just Called to Say I Love You Day
- Even if students are not able to call family members or friends from school, they can brainstorm people that they will plan to call in the near future.
- Have students draw pictures and/or write letters to their loved ones. Students can include details about why they love these people and/or information of a more conversation nature (i.e. discussing recent things they have been doing).
- Create greeting cards or simple art projects to accompany the pictures and letters. Consider art projects that won't get easily damaged through hand delivery or shipping.
- How To Say I Love You in Different Languages
- Heartwarming Vintage Inspiration with Crafty Secrets!: 32 Creative Places to Say I Love You All Year
- Quick Sweet Treats | The Dating Divas
May 14th: National Dance Like a Chicken Day
- Have a little dance party at the end of the day and bust out your best chicken dance moves. Make sure that everyone feels comfortable without letting things get too crazy.
- Learn about the history of the chicken dance.
- Share stories about previous experiences with the dance. Has anyone been at a wedding or a party where people went crazy dancing?
- History of the Chicken Dance
- The Chicken Dance
- A Chicken Dance Craze
- Chicken Life Cycle Lessons, Activities, Printables, and Teaching Ideas
May 15th: National Chocolate Chip Day
- Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie? Discuss or complete a writing prompt about the best chocolate chip cookies out there. They can be handmade or store bought and can include other kinds of chips or add ins (i.e. M&Ms). If students prefer other recipes with chocolate chips (i.e. layer bars, cakes, ice cream flavors), they can share those, too.
- Get permission to use the school's kitchen and make your own chocolate chip cookies.
- Have a chocolate chip cookie taste test. If you made your own cookies, include them in the testing. Graph and discuss the results.
- Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookies Seven Scrumptious Recipes
- Homemade Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - The Toll House Story
May 28th: International Jazz Day
- If possible, attend a jazz concert or invite a jazz band or trio to play at your school. Is there a local high school with a great jazz band? That's a great place to start. Consider local college bands as well.
- Whether or not you attend a concert, spend some time enjoying jazz music recordings throughout the school day.
- Have students complete a writing prompt about their favorite song, musician, or instrument that they heard at the concert or on a recording today and why they made those choices.
- Jazz . Lesson Plans | PBS KIDS GO!
- Top 100 jazz songs, The 100 great jazz songs of all time
- 10 Albums to Start Your Jazz CD Collection
May 28th: National Hamburger Day
- Conduct a survey of favorite restaurant hamburgers or favorite hamburger toppings and discuss the results.
- Learn about the history of the hamburger.
- Have a class cookout and enjoy your own hamburgers with lots of toppings.
- The History of the Hamburger | A Hamburger Today
- How to Make Homemade Big Macs
- Homemade Hamburgers: The Ultimate Italian Burger, with Gourmet Hamburgers Videos
May 30th: Water a Flower Day
- Talk to the school custodians about watering the school's flowers and/or other plants. If they are okay with it, take a walking tour of the school property and discuss the types of plants and flowers there before watering them. Additionally, pursue other opportunities to water flowers in the community, such as in parks or at local businesses.
- Discuss why we need to water flowers and tips for watering them properly.
- Learn about your state's flower.
Drinking Water Week (3-10)
- Research the recommended amount of water people should drink every day and the health benefits of drinking enough water.
- Discuss ways to increase how much water you drink everyday, such as drinking water instead of juice or soda with meals and carrying a water bottle with you. Consider ways to make water more interesting to drink that don't add lots of calories (i.e. adding lemon).
- Create a class challenge to drink a certain number of glasses of water during a week. Create a tracking system and record the results every day.
- Health Benefit of Drinking Water
- Water: How much should you drink every day? - MayoClinic.com
- Drinking Water Lesson Plans & Activities
National Backyard Games Week (18-25)
- Learn about the wide variety of backyard games available with everything from horseshoes to croquet to Red Rover. Have students research a game of their choice and present it to the class or write a short report about it. They can complete this in pairs if they like.
- Do students have neat backyard games that they can teach the class? Throughout the week, give different students a chance to share their skills with their peers.
- Pick a backyard game that many students may not know how to play, such as croquet or badminton, and teach it to them.
- Summer Backyard Games | LIVESTRONG.COM
- Fun Outdoor Games for Kids: Seven Backyard Games and Activities for Families - Kaboose.com
- Top Croquet Game Player Sets Reviews - Best Family Backyard Gifts for 2011
More holidays and special days teaching resources from the author.
- March Holidays and Special Days: Elementary Classroom Activities, Ideas, and Lesson Plans
This article is about March holidays and special days. It includes elementary classroom activities, ideas, and lesson plans for each holidays. There are lots of resources.
- April Holidays and Special Days: Elementary Classroom Activities, Ideas, and Lesson Plans
This article is about April holidays and special days. It includes elementary classroom activities, ideas, and lesson plans for each holidays. There are lots of resources.
- June Holidays and Special Days: Elementary Classroom Activities, Ideas, and Lesson Plans
This article is about June holidays and special days. It includes elementary classroom activities, ideas, and lesson plans for each holidays. There are lots of resources.
hectordang from New York on April 29, 2012:
It's always fun to switch up the routine a little and do something interesting that celebrates history and culture. Many teachers lose out on the opportunity due to high-stakes standardized testing that is tied to their evaluation. For more ideas (many free!) on how to make classroom engaging, feel free to visit http://www.lulu.com/alastingwill
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:
Yes for sure! Thanks for sharing this!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 14, 2012:
These simple tricks can help the teachers and kids through those restless last days of school! Voted up and sharing on my Linkedin teacher groups!
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 12, 2012:
Thanks! Very nice. :)
Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on April 12, 2012:
So cool! I will be celebrating chocolate chip cookie day :)
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 04, 2012:
diydiva, haha nice!
Stokermn, that's great!
Stokermm from Gainesville, FL on April 04, 2012:
Awesome list!! I can definitely use some of these ideas in my Kindergarten class :)
Kay Mitchell from California on April 04, 2012:
May 11th will be a great break from my diet!! Yay! My indulgence thanks you for sharing.
Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 04, 2012:
artlader, yep. :) I'm sure that kids (or not so kid age people) of just about any age would enjoy it.
Thanks for sharing this, Linda!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 04, 2012:
Excellent ideas! I like Water a Flower day! Will share with the teachers!:)
artlader from Aiken, South Carolina, USA on April 04, 2012:
National Chicken Dance Day? Really? Perfect for my high school German classes. :-)