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Teaching in May: End of School Year Ideas for Elementary Teachers

The secret to teaching in May and keeping students engaged and learning is integrating holidays and special days into your instruction. There are so many holidays and special days in May to celebrate with your elementary students. Some of the more popular ones are Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, Teacher Appreciation Week, Eid at-Fitr, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. You’ll find the full list of May events, holidays, and special days teachers can celebrate and use as teaching topics, themes, and ideas for the end of the school year below!

May Holidays and Special Days

As you starting brainstorming May and end of school year teaching ideas, add these May holidays and special days to your teacher planner.

Month-Long May Events

Below are month-long May events you can use as topics, themes, and ideas for teaching in May and the end of the school year.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month Activities

Asian Pacific Heritage Month is during the month of May every year in the United States. This is a time of recognition towards the achievements of Asian Americans and the Pacific Islanders and everything they did in American history. This is the perfect day to discuss the historical impacts specific individuals have made in our country.

Inclusion SEL UnitEyes that Kiss in the CornersMy Name is YoonThe Name Jar
Drum Dream Girl book companionThe Seed of CompassionRuby's Wish book companionThe Empty Pot

Mental Health Awareness Month Activities

Mental Health Awareness Month is during the month of May every year in the United States. This month is a reminder for how important mental health is, and to always check in on people because you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. This is the perfect time to promote good mental health in your classroom through videos, read alouds, and even crafts.

Social Emotional Learning Units Bundle

Week-Long May Events

Below are week-long May events you can use as topics, themes, and ideas for teaching in May and the end of the school year.

Teacher Appreciation Week Activities

Teacher Appreciation Week is during the first week of May in the United States every year! This is a time to celebrate and appreciate our incredible teachers and all the hard work they do. This is the perfect time to make little appreciation cards or gift bags for all your teacher friends. You can also have your students create cards for teachers they want to thank.

My Teacher is a MonsterMrs. Spitzer's GardenA Letter to my Teacher
Thank You, Mr FalkerThe Teacher from the Black Lagoon book companionMiss Nelson is Missing book companion

May Holidays

Below are May holidays you can use as topics, themes, and ideas for teaching in May and the end of the school year.

Eid al-Fitr Activities

Eid al-Fitr’s dates vary, but is celebrated every year normally in May or April. This is an holiday celebrated by people who follow the religion, Islam. It is celebrated because it marks the end of Ramadan fasting which is a month long event. This is the perfect time to educate your students on different religions and holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr through video’s and read alouds.

Cinco de Mayo Activities

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5th in Mexico every year! This holiday celebrates Mexico’s victory against the Second French Empire at the 1862 battle of Puebla along with being a celebration of Mexican heritage. This is the perfect day to explore this fun colorful holiday in your classroom by watching parade videos, and having your students complete activities and crafts to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Check out the activities below for Cinco de Mayo!

Mexico unitDragons Love Tacos 2Chicks and Salsa
Manana IguanaCinco de Mouse-o book companionDragons Love Tacos

Mother’s Day Activities

We celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. The exact date changes every year. On this day, we honor and express appreciation and gratitude to mothers. Consider having your students create a mothers day gift for their mothers or other motherly figures in their life! Check out the activities below for Mother’s Day!

A Chair for My MotherMother BruceStella Brings the FamilyAre You My Mother?

Memorial Day Activities

Memorial Day is the last Monday in May in the United States every year. The exact date changes annually. This holiday mourns and remembers our soldiers who passed away fighting in battle, so we can have the freedom we take for granted every single day. This is the perfect time to discuss the importance of this holiday and the reason why they have no school. Check out the activities below for Memorial Day!

America's White Table book companionThe Wall book companion activitiesThe Poppy Lady book companionRolling ThunderTwenty-One Steps book companion

Authors’ and Book Characters’ May Birthdays

Below are a list of authors with birthdays in May. Share their children’s books when teaching in May.

Leo Lionni’s Birthday (5/5) Activities

Leo Lionni is an Italian-American author and illustrator of children’s books. He was born on May 5, 1910. You may know Leo Lionni for his children’s books like A color of his own, Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch. Check out the activities below!

SwimmyA Color of His Own

Rescue from Rescue and Jessica’s Birthday (5/13) Activities

Rescue’s birthday, the dog from the book Rescue and Jessica, is May 13th. This book is by Patrick Downers and Jessica Kensky. It is about the adorable relationship of a girl named Jessica and her service dog named Rescue. Check out the activities below!

Rescue and Jessica

Adam Rex’s Birthday (5/16) Activities

Adam Rex is an American author and illustrator of children’s books born on May 16, 1973. You may know Adam Rex for his children’s books Frankenstein makes a sandwich, Smek for President!, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, and The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors. Check out the activities below!

On Account of the GumSchool's First Day of School book companion

Margaret Wise Brown’s Birthday (5/23) Activities

Margaret Wise Brown is an American author of children’s books, born on May 23, 1910. You may know Margaret Wise Brown for her classic children’s books including Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, My World, The Little Scarecrow Boy, and Big Red Barn. Check out the activities below!

The Little Scarecrow Boy

Diane De Groat’s Birthday (5/24) Activities

Diane De Groat is a children’s book author and illustrator born on May 24, 1947. You may know Diana De Groat for her children’s books such as Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink, Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite, and Brand-new Pencils, Brand-new Books. Check out the activities below!

Roses are Pink Your Feet Really Stink book companion

May Special Days

Below are special days in May that you can use as topics, themes, and ideas for teaching in May and the end of the school year.

May Day (5/1) Activities

May Day, also known as Workers’ Day, is celebrated on May 1st every year internationally. This is a day that commemorates the struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement, meant to celebrate all the hard working people in the world! This is the perfect day to educate your students about this holiday through videos and activities.

Teacher Appreciation Day (5/3) Activities

We celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day on the Tuesday of the first full week in May. The exact date changes every year. This is a day dedicated to celebrating, thanking and appreciating our incredible teachers and everything they do! This is the perfect day to make little appreciation cards or gift bags for all your teacher friends to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day! Check out the activities below for Teacher Appreciation Day!

My Teacher is a MonsterMrs. Spitzer's GardenA Letter to my Teacher
Thank You, Mr FalkerThe Teacher from the Black Lagoon book companionMiss Nelson is Missing book companion

National Astronaut Day (5/5) Activities

In the United States, we celebrate National Astronaut Day on May 5th every year. This day celebrates and remembers the first ever human to go into space on May 5, 1961. This is the perfect day to learn about the first ever spaceflight with your students by watching videos to celebrate National Astronaut Day! Check out the activities below for National Astronaut Day!

Mae Among the Stars book companion

National Space Day (5/6) Activities

In the United States, we celebrate National Space Day on the first Friday in May. The exact date changes every year. This is a day dedicated to celebrating space and the incredible discoveries found through exploring space. This is the perfect day to learn about space with your students through videos, read alouds and fun activities to celebrate National Space Day! Check out the activities above for National Space Day!

National Lemonade Day (5/7) Activities

National Lemonade Day is celebrated on May 7th and is a day dedicated to the yummy, sweet and sour summer drink known as lemonade! Lemonade is made out of lemons, water and sugar and is the perfect refreshing drink to sip on a warm summer day! This is the perfect day to bring lemonade to your classroom so your students can celebrate National Lemonade Day! Check out the activities below for National Lemonade Day!

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree

National Sleepover Day (5/9) Activities

In the U.S., we celebrate National Sleepover Day on May 9th every year! This national day is dedicated to the friendship activity of hanging out all day and night by watching movies, talking and enjoying friendship! This is the perfect day to encourage your students to have a sleepover and maybe have them do a writing activity explaining their favorite sleepover activities to celebrate National Sleepover Day!

National Clean Your Room Day (5/10) Activities

National Clean Your Room Day is celebrated on May 10th every year! This is a national day dedicated to cleaning your room and is meant to encourage people to tidy up and organize their room! This is the perfect day to explore this national day with your class and encourage them to all go home after school and clean their room to celebrate National Clean Your Room Day! Check out the activities below for National Clean Your Room Day!

Pig the Slob

International Day of Families (5/15) Activities

On May 15th, we celebrate International Day of Families on May 15th every year. This day is all about celebrating and understanding the importance of families! This is the perfect day to have your students share why they are appreciative of their families and have them go home and thank each family member to celebrate International Day of Families.

And Tango Makes Three book companionThe Hello Goodbye Window book companionWhere Are You From? book companionCarmela Full of Wishes
Stella Brings the FamilyThe Relatives Came book companionPeter's Chair book companionMy Papi Has a Motorcycle book companion

National Love a Tree Day (5/16) Activities

National Love a Tree Day is celebrated on May 16th every year! This is a national day dedicated to appreciating and loving Earth’s beautiful tree’s! This is the perfect day to have your students appreciate the beauty of trees and have them read under a tree, plant a tree, or even just encourage them to recycle and keep the Earth the home for our trees, a safe and happy place to celebrate National Love a Tree Day! Check out the activities below for National Love a Tree Day!

The Tree Lady

National Rescue Dog Day (5/20) Activities

In the United States, we celebrate National Rescue Dog Day on May 20th every year. On this day, people are encouraged to rescue a dog from a shelter and give him or her a safe and happy home with a new family. This is the perfect day to educate your students on the importance of rescuing dogs and to take a moment to just appreciate the adorable animal to celebrate National Rescue Dog Day. Check out the activities below for National Rescue Dog Day!

Can I Be Your Dog?

National Bike to Work Day Activities

National Bike to Work Day is celebrated on the third Friday in May, meaning the exact date changes every year. This is a national day dedicated to encouraging people to ride their bike instead of commuting their normal way, specifically directed towards people riding their bike to their workplace! This is the perfect day to celebrate National Bike to Work Day by biking to school and educating your students on the national day by explaining to them that you biked to school instead of drove! Check out the activities below for National Bike to Work Day!

Duck on a BikeA Bike Like Sergio's

National Learn to Swim Day (5/21) Activities

National Learn to Swim Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, meaning the exact date changes every year. This national day is dedicated to encouraging all people to learn how to swim and acknowledges how water safety skills are extremely important! This is the perfect day to present a swimming video on the board during class time and pass out swim lesson flyers to encourage your students to learn how to swim! Check out the activities below for National Learn to Swim Day!

Jabari Jumps

Harvey Milk Day (5/22) Activities

In the United States, many people celebrate Harvey Milk Day on May 22nd every year. This day was created in memory of Harvey Milk who was an important gay rights activist and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. Harvey Milk was also the first openly gay politician in California. He was assassinated in 1978. Harvey Milk did not deserve this ending, and so this day is so important because he was an incredible man who made a difference in civil rights and sexual understanding and acceptance for people all around the world, and he 100% deserved to be acknowledged and appreciated for his dedication. Check out the activities below for Harvey Milk Day!

Red: A Crayon's StoryWorm Loves WormStella Brings the FamilyAnd Tango Makes Three book companion

World Turtle Day (5/23) Activities

World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23rd and is a national day celebrated every year! This day is dedicated to celebrating and bringing awareness to the adorable shelled creature found on land or water all over the world! This is the perfect day to educate your class about the life of a turtle through videos, movies, books, worksheets, or activities to celebrate World Turtle Day! Check out the activities below for World Turtle Day!

The Box TurtleMossyTruman

Brother’s Day (5/24) Activities

Brother’s Day is celebrated on May 24th every year! This is a day dedicated to the annoying built-in best friends who may drive you crazy sometimes but want to protect and love you deep down. Brothers can be crazy but are such an amazing relationship that you have to appreciate and so, on Brother’s Day encourage everyone to show affection or gratitude real quick to their brother because they will appreciate it deep down I promise! Check out the activities below for Brother’s Day!

Hug It Out book companionIshThe Jelly Donut Difference

National Sorry Day (5/26) Activities

In Australia, they celebrate National Sorry Day on May 26th every year. It stated in 1998. This is a day of healing and encouraging people to be the bigger person, to not hold grudges, and to say sorry because it will heal your own heart and make the tension and anxiety of conflict finally go away! This is the perfect day to teach your students a lesson on why saying sorry and apologizing is such an important action and can make a big difference! Check out the activities below for National Sorry Day!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

National Paperclip Day (5/29) Activities

National Paperclip Day is celebrated on May 29th every year internationally. This national day is dedicated to the useful, paper holding invention known as the paperclip which helps us stay organized and put together at work, school and even home life! This is the perfect day to appreciate the helpful little tools in your classroom by giving each student a colorful paperclip to use for their work, while also watching a quick video explaining who invented it to celebrate National Paperclip Day!

National Creativity Day (5/30) Activities

In the U.S., we celebrate National Creativity Day on May 30th every year! This national day is dedicated to bringing awareness, celebrating and spreading how important it is to be creative and to use those skills in life to problem solve and be innovative! This is the perfect day to encourage students to be creative by providing hands-on activities and art projects to celebrate National Creativity Day! Check out the activities below for National Creativity Day!

IshThe Art LessonRed: A Crayon's StoryThe Day the Crayons Came Home book companionThe Dot
The Day the Crayons QuitI'm Not Just a ScribbleEraserMixed: A Colorful StoryHarold and the Purple Crayon

National Smile Day (5/31) Activities

In the United States, we celebrate National Smile Day on May 31st every year. This national day is dedicated towards encouraging everyone to show off their smile because it’s contagious and will cause others to smile too! Smiling is so powerful and today is the perfect day to teach your students how much of an impact it has on not only their own day, but their friends and family’s day too!

Popular Topics in May

Bees, flowers, and the end of the year are all great topics and teaching ideas for May and the end of the school year.

Bees

The Story of Ferdinand

Flowers

Plant-and-seeds-themed graphic organizer templatesThe Rough PatchPlanting Stories book companion
The Empty PotThe Bad SeedMrs. Spitzer's Garden

End of the School Year

A Letter to my TeacherThank You, Mr FalkerWhen It's The Last Day of SchoolMrs. Spitzer's Garden
Last Day BluesLizzie and the Last Day of SchoolThe Year We Learned to FlyWhat the Road Said
Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Last Day of School book companionA Letter From Your Teacher on the Last Day of School book companionThe Night Before Summer Vacation book companionAnd Then Comes Summer

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