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Marvelous May
By Sandy Fleming

Welcome to May! Spring is now firmly in our grasp, and the weather is finally beginning to become warmer. The end of the school year is in sight, and with it, vacations and summer fun. Brighten up your May with these activities and create your own Marvelous May Moments!

May is Better Sleep Month! Why not take a little time to learn about sleep and how it works? Keep a dream diary by putting paper and pencil by the bed and having your kids write down dreams before they even leave the comfort of the covers. It's a great writing exercise, and very interesting, because dream memories often fade even before breakfast. By writing them down quickly, dreamers may see patterns or other interesting aspects. And just for fun, read The Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss. Your librarian will probably have other ideas as well.

May is also Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Take advantage of the (hopefully) great weather by committing to 30 minutes of "shape-up" activities or active sports each day.

The May calendar includes loads of exciting events, too. Celebrate National Wildflower Week (May 2-9) with a walk in the local park or down the road to look for these beauties. May 5 marks an interesting Japanese holiday: Children's Day. The festival originally began as a boys' festival, but recently has been expanded to include girls as well. In Japan, families fly kites and banners in the shape of fish. What kind of fish banners or kites can your children make to celebrate?

May celebrates the birthdays of two former presidents and the statehoods of four states. Can your detectives find out who and which ones?

The first transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. Have some railroad fun by singing train songs such as "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and "Down by the Station." Draw a train, count train cars when you are traveling, and write a story about a day in the life of a train and
what it sees and does.

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820. What is this special lady famous for? Read one of her many biographies at the library and find out! May 12 is also Limerick Day. Look for great limericks in children's poetry books, and try writing your own nonsensical poetry.

May 22, 1859 marks the birthday of the author of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Why not have a detective day in his honor? It's fun to make up mystery trails with clues for children that lead to a small treat. For young children, try using pictures of where to look for the next clue in the series. Beginning readers enjoy simple directions they can read themselves, such as "Look under the bed." Older children are ready for riddle clues. For example, "Home, home on the RANGE" may help them remember that a stove can sometimes be called a range. Another fun variation on this activity is to take extreme close-up pictures of furniture or other household locations so that all that shows in the picture is a texture. Use these pictures as clues for where to search for the next clue in the series. Give the hunter a picture of couch upholstery. When the child looks under the couch cushion, he or she can find a picture of the pattern on the lamp shade, and so forth.

May was opening month for two famous bridges: the Brooklyn Bridge (May 24, 1883) and the Golden Gate Bridge (May 27, 1937). How about a bridge-building contest? Challenge your children to build a bridge from popsicle sticks, craft sticks, and/or toothpicks to connect two cans of soup. Who can build the best or strongest one? Younger kids can learn lots about geometry and building concepts by trying to build a bridge with building blocks.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy this precious time with your family. May 9 through June 20 is National Family Month: A time to strengthen family relations, share love with one another, and build stronger bonds. Spending time together enjoying different kinds of work and play is the best way to do that!

Sandy Fleming is an educator, author and workshop facilitator. She resides in southern Michigan with her husband and three daughters. Sandy leads workshops for daycare providers and parents in the region, tutors students, volunteers for Girl Scouts and her church, and teaches online classes for adults and children. She loves to make new friends, so please drop her an e-mail at


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