May Day Activities and Teaching Ideas

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Welcome spring into your classroom and teach your students about May Day celebrations and traditions with this printable. Activities include learning about the history of May Day, creating a Maypole for the classroom, and making and sharing May Day baskets.

Also known as Beltane, May Day has been celebrated for thousands of years and is thought to originate with the druids and the ancient Romans as a festival for worshipping trees. Much later the English replaced this with a tall pole - the “Maypole” - decorated with colorful ribbons held in the Maypole dance and weaved into patterns. May is when springtime turns into summer. It has been associated with spring flowers since the Romans worshipped Flora as their goddess of spring. May Day traditions of gathering wildflowers and tree branches on May 1st became known as “bringing in the May”. The flowers and branches were used for decorations and as gifts delivered in May Day baskets.

How To Use This Printable

The fun activities and teaching ideas in this printable are perfect for blending social studies and history with fun May Day craft activities. Use it for social studies, language arts, or art/music/drama class, or it’s great as a quick substitute activity. The activities are aimed at students in elementary grades.

Teach your students about May Day traditions and the origin of this holiday using the reading passage in this printable. Use it for reading comprehension or as an introduction to a social studies lesson on May Day celebrations around the world.

Choose from teaching ideas to help students share the spirit of May Day, including recreating the Maypole dance, or combine with craft ideas, such as making garlands and creating May Day baskets to share with other classes or teachers. You can use fresh flowers, or create paper flowers for your DIY May Day flower baskets, or have students make flower crowns.

Learn more about the origins and traditions of May Day, and other spring festivals, with this encyclopedia-style reference page, May Day: A Cornucopia of Holidays.

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Excerpted from

Multicultural Holidays
Multicultural Holidays
Teacher Created Resources
This comprehensive book provides background information and related activities for more than 75 holidays throughout the year. It also includes student contracts and culminating activities.
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