May Day (May 1) is a delightful holiday that celebrates spring, the season when nature awakes from a long winter nap. This celebration dates back to ancient Rome with a six-day festival known as Floralia to honor Flora, the goddess of spring. May Day customs have traveled to many countries and observed in many European countries today. Spring festivals and Maypoles exist. These poles are decorated with flowers and long colorful ribbons so children can weave the ribbons around the pole as they sing and dance.
The giving of May baskets is another old tradition. Children secretly hang baskets of colorful flowers on doorknobs of friends and neighbors. Your students will enjoy making a traditional basket with this craft idea.
You will need:
- A paper lunch bag
- Safety scissors
- School glue stick
- Spring stickers (optional)
- The teacher will use a ruler to measure and draw lines 3-inches, 6-inches, and 8-inches from the bottom of the bag.
- Invite the children to cut across the bag at each line. Throw away the top unused portion.
- Challenge the students to decorate the 3-inch wide strip with a colorful spring flowery design.
- Open the bottom portion of the bag and seat it on the table. Spread glue on the outside area of this bottom portion.
- Slip the decorated piece over the top of the bag with glue. Press these pieces together and let dry.
- Take the 2-inch strip and fold it in half. Glue the insides together to make a sturdy handle. After the children decorate the handle it can be glue (or better yet stapled) to each side of the basket.
The concept of the May Day basket is to fill it with fresh flowers or faux blooms. You can even make flowers in class from a variety of papers as an art project. Have the children take this project home to deliver this basket to a neighbor or family member.
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo means the fifth day in the month of May. It’s a special day in Mexican history and celebrated joyously with fiestas, parades, dances, and speeches. This Mexican national holiday marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla on May 5th in 1862 when Mexican soldiers courageously defeated the invading French army. Celebrate this occasion in class by reading the book, Big Bushy Mustache written by Gary Soto. The tale is about a young boy, Ricky, who wants to wear a mustache just like his father’s in his school play about Cinco de Mayo. He wants to look like one of the Mexican soldiers. After reading the story, invite the children to make fake mustaches and have fun role-playing the story.
Create a template from cardboard for the kids to trace around on the art material (black felt or paper). The children can cut out their faux mustache, add a loop of tape to the back and press it under their noses. Now, smile and take pictures!
A Garden of Daisies
May is the month that brings beautiful spring flowers after all those April showers. Here is a celebration of spring project that mixes art and math.
Provide each student with a sheet of white paper. Set up a paper plate with dollops of tempera paint in several colors. Invite the kids to create six daisies on their paper each with a different number of petals for each (their choice of amounts). They are to use their thumbprints around a small circle they draw for each flower.
Next, have the students exchange their art paper with a classroom partner. Ask the partner to count the number of petals per flower and write the number outside each daisy. The children can chant “He loves me…he loves me not!” while doing this part of the activity.
Nothing brings more joy in the spring than observing a butterfly as it flutters about from one flower to the next. Use books to illustrate how butterflies begin from a caterpillar following the stages of chrysalis to its emergence of a beautiful butterfly. Once the students understand this process, make this fun craft as an art project.
You will need:
- Cardboard toilet paper tube
- Pipe cleaners
- Construction paper with glue OR Tempera paint with paintbrush
- Decorative stickers OR Markers/Crayons
- Adhesive Googly eyes
- Heavy-duty glue
- You have a couple options to color the toilet tube for the butterfly’s body. Either paint it with tempera paint or cover it with colorful construction paper and glue. Set this aside to dry.
- The teacher makes a template from cardboard of the butterfly wings. You can make two pieces or one large size with two wings on either side. Invite the children to trace around the template onto cardstock and then cut out the piece.
- Challenge the students to decorate the wings with stickers or draw designs using crayons/markers.
- Attach the wings to the butterfly body with glue and let it dry thoroughly.
- Lastly, curl two pieces of pipe cleaner around a pencil to make antennae. Adhere these to the top of the butterfly body. Then, place two adhesive Googly eyes in place.
- Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
- Enchanted Learning: What is a Butterfly
- Personal experience in an early childhood classroom