May Day Activities for Grades 1-3

A Collection of May Day Activities to Celebrate the Arrival of Spring

Maypole
Get your little ones moving with a miniature Maypole dance. Image by Cecelia Cartner/Cultura/Getty Images

Each May schools across the globe celebrate spring on May Day (May 1st). This holiday has been celebrated for thousands of years, and traditions include giving flowers, singing, and dancing around a "Maypole." Celebrate the arrival of spring by providing your students with a few of these festive May Day activities.

Maypole

May Day is often celebrated with a Maypole dance. This popular custom includes weaving ribbons around a pole.

To create your own Maypole have students take turns wrapping ribbon (or crepe paper) around a pole. Have two students walk around the pole in opposite directions weaving the ribbon in and out. Once students get the hang of it, play some music and allow them to skip, or dance around the pole as they weave the ribbon. To unwind the ribbon have students reverse their direction. Continue this process until all of the students have had a turn. For additional fun, decorate the top of the Maypole with flowers and have students sing the Maypole song.

Maypole Song

Here we go around the pole,
Round the pole,
Round the pole,
Here we go around the pole
On the first day of May.

(Students' name) goes around the pole,
Round the pole,
Round the pole,
(Students' name) goes around the pole
On the first day of May.

May Baskets

Another popular May Day custom is to create a May Day basket. These baskets are filled with candy and flowers and left on the doorstep of a friend's home.

Back in the day, children would make a basket and leave it on the front porch or the doorknob of a friend's home, then they would ring the doorbell and quickly leave without being seen. To renew this fun custom with your students have each child create a basket for a classmate.

Materials:

  • Coffee filters
  • Watercolor markers
  • Water (spray bottle with water)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper

Here are the steps:

  1. Have students decorate the coffee filter with the markers, then spray the filter with water so the color bleeds. Set aside to dry.
     
  2. Alternate different color tissue paper (about 3-6) and fold in half twice, then trim the edge, rounding the corners so it almost looks like a triangle.
     
  3. Poke a hole into the point of the tissue paper and secure a pipe cleaner. Then start unfolding the paper to create a petal.
     
  4. Once the basket is dry and the flowers are made, place each flower into the basket.

May Day Hoops

On May Day young girls would often decorate a wooden hoop with spring flowers and compete in a contest to see who had the best-looking hoop. To re-create this May Day custom, have students partner up and decorate a hula-hoop. Provide students with art supplies, such as ribbon, flowers, crepe paper, yarn, feathers, felt, and markers. Have students decorate the hoop as they wish. Be sure to encourage students to be creative and use their imaginations.

May Day Writing Prompts

Here are a few May Day writing prompts to encourage your students to think about May Day traditions and customs.

  • What is your favorite May Day tradition or custom?
  • What would you put in your May Day basket?
  • What kinds of games would you play on May Day?
  • How would you decorate a Maypole, give details?
  • Who would you like to leave you a basket, and why?

May Day Stories

Explore May Day even further by reading a few of these stories to your students on May Day.

  • On the Morn of Mayfest written by Erica Silverman
  • Little Grey Rabbit's May Day  written by Allison Uttley
  • The Rainbow Tulip written by Pat Mora
  • Queen of the May written by Steven Kroll
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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "May Day Activities for Grades 1-3." ThoughtCo, May. 15, 2017, thoughtco.com/may-day-activities-grades-1-3-2081897. Cox, Janelle. (2017, May 15). May Day Activities for Grades 1-3. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/may-day-activities-grades-1-3-2081897 Cox, Janelle. "May Day Activities for Grades 1-3." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/may-day-activities-grades-1-3-2081897 (accessed November 19, 2017).