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5 Engaging Activities for the Classroom in May

It's May and most of us are winding down our school year before summer vacation. We want our last few weeks of school to be fun and meaningful, but we are tired and new ideas can take a lot of energy that we don't have right now. I'm here to share with you a couple of meaningful activities that you can do with your classroom that are not difficult to implement.

1. Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? There are many easy ways to acknowledge these wonderful cultures and this is the perfect month to introduce them to your class.

Background: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the culture of Asian -Pacific Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. It originated as a congressional bill in 1978 and by 1992, it was expanded from a week to a month-long celebration. The month of May was chosen to pay tribute to the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese Immigrants.

Here are some helpful books that you can read in class (taken from

Grandfather's Journey

By: Allen Say
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Say narrates the saga of his grandfather who as a young man travels to the United States in the early 20th century, marries, and returns to Japan. Watercolor portraits of people and places glimpse the contrast of cultures and parallel the lives of grandfather and grandson. It could lead to the discovery of family histories. Country of origin: Japan

The Name Jar

By: Yangsook Choi
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her.

Tuko and the Birds: A Tale from the Philippines

By: Shirley Climo
Illustrated by: Francisco Mora
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Birds sing the people of Maynilad on the Philippine island of Luzon to sleep at night — until Tuko the haughty gecko prevents the birds from doing their job. Repetition and onomatopoeic animal sounds make this a lively, memorable folktale to share aloud. Tagalog is sprinkled throughout and is included in a glossary.
Country of origin: Philippines

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China

By: Ai-Ling Louie
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Based on an ancient Chinese story (which pre-dates European versions), a girl overcomes her wicked stepmother to marry the prince. Jewel-like illustrations by Caldecott medalist Ed Young bring this variation of the classic tale to life.
Country of origin: China

For more children's books, visit Reading Rockets.

Chapter books for older kids:

Ruby Lu, Brave and True (Book #1)


Ruby Lu is an 8-year-old Chinese-American girl. She is an adventurous, enthusiastic, imaginative and playful girl. The author integrates the Chinese culture into the book and offers the opportunity for young readers to experience and learn the life of Ruby Lu, who identifies as a Chinese-American and immerse herself into her own culture. Another wonderful feature of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, the first chapter book in a series, is the glossary in the back of the book, that contains explanations of Chinese words that might be useful for readers. 

Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Book #1)

Alvin Ho, who is a Chinese-American second grader who is afraid of many and most things. He is quiet and keeps to himself unless in the security of his own home. In other words, he decides where and when he will not be mute. Alvin is scared to make friends and reach out to others. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

Activities to do:

1. Have fun with origami! Teach students the origin of origami and let them have a shot at making cranes and swans. Check out the resource for that here.

2. Practice eating with chopsticks. Play games picking up noodles, gummy bears, etc. Make it fun!

3. Learn about notable Asian Americans who made a difference in our world.  Here is a list of 10 mini-biographies from scholastic.

2. Work on Open House Projects

I love working on open house projects during this time! By this time of the year, we have been getting ready for state testing and district assessments so my kiddos need a break! Working on projects is a nice way to give their brains a rest as well as not rushing to finish everything last minute. Here are some of my favorite things that we've done in class.

I used this resource here:

3. Have kids work on End of the Year Memory Books

I seriously love the end of the year memory books from both sides: as a mom and a teacher. As a mother, I love looking at my kiddos school year memories and reflecting on how much they have grown. As a teacher, I loved watching my students work together on these books and laugh. They draw, reflect, and have fun! The memory book that I use also has an autograph page where kids can sign their names and add any messages to that student (remember BFF, K.I.T,??). 

I used this resource here:

4. Prepare the end of the year class gifts

Option A:
I love giving useful gifts to my kiddos for the summer. In the past, I have given summer sand buckets, books with bookmarkers, candy, you name it. A couple of years ago, I came up with the idea of creating road trip/ travel kits for my kiddos. My own kids tried them out on our 2-week long road trip and LOVED them! It kept them busy and entertained, and more importantly, off of media for HOURS! The best thing is that it is cost effective. Just purchase the resource and make the copies for your kiddos in the classroom. You don't need to put it in a folder for them. Just clip it all together, tie a bow on it, and VOILA!  I blogged about the road trip kit here.

I used this resource here:

Option B:
Make a Last Day of School sign for your students and take a picture with the student holding it. Then send it home with the kiddos for their parents to enjoy. Try and find editable signs that have the fonts already embedded so that all you have to do is enter the text without having to download any fonts.

You can also make a Class Memories sign and take a class picture. Whichever sign you choose, you can send it home with your students as a great keepsake for the year!

 I use this one and this one.

5. Enlist kids to help get supplies ready for your next year's class

Kids LOVE to help. I had the girls in my classroom coming up to me towards the end of the year asking me if I needed any help. After I began putting them to work, the boys caught on and wanted to join in on preparing for next year's class. I had them fill the pencil boxes and supplies for next year. Then I stored them in my cupboard all ready for the next class. After summer, I opened up my cupboards to get ready for the upcoming school year and my heart skipped a beat because all the student boxes were DONE! It was awesome!

Hope this helps you get through May. The end is near! Enjoy the last couple of weeks with your kiddos!