May is here, and we really aren’t sure what to expect this year. Our Stay-At-Home Order has been extended to May 18th and even after that we don’t know how much we’ll be able to (or want to) start getting out. Some of our family fun ideas are a little on the hopeful side and may have to wait for later. We are not suggesting you do anything unsafe, only offering ideas for starting traditions that can last for years to come. We hope that we offer enough suggestions that you and your family can create your own traditions and memories out of these 31 May holidays this year and then continue to add to them in the coming years.
Note: This is a collaborative list among our entire staff. We’d love to add your ideas. Leave us a message with your ideas for celebrating May Family Holidays!
First Week of May 2020
May 1st – May Day
Family Fun: Traditionally people would create May Day baskets and secretly leave them for friends and neighbors. This would be great to do for a special neighbor this year. Perhaps you can weave a basket and create flowers out of paper.
Read Aloud: On the Morn of Mayfest by Erica Silverman. If you can find the physical book, the illustrations are beautiful and kids would probably enjoy pouring over them However, I found a read aloud on YouTube, as well.
Meal Idea: According to Epicurus, children in Greece get cake for breakfast on May Day. And children in France drink warm milk straight from the cow. For modern kids, maybe a coffee cake with freshly steamed and frothed milk?
Learn More: Britannica has more information on May Day.
May 2nd – Learn to Ride A Bike Day and World Tuna Day
Family Fun: If you already know how to ride bikes in your family, use this day as an excuse for a family bike ride.
Read Aloud: D.W. Rides Again by Marc Brown
Meal Idea: Tuna melts with french fries. My secret ingredient for the best tuna melts is pickle relish. Add it liberally to get the pickiest eater to love it.
Learn More: at the video below for teaching tips.
May 3rd – World Laughter Day
Family Fun: Check out Laughter Yoga. Even if you don’t want to try it yourself, watching makes you smile, too!
Read Aloud: A joke book for sure. Download this freebie onto your Kindle app.
Learn More: World Laughter Day was started by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement. More recently its been mixed with Bollywood style dancing for an aerobic workout.
May 4th – Star Wars Day – May the 4th Be With You
Family Fun: Family Movie Night: If you have Disney+, The Rise of Skywalker arrives today. If you don’t, check out the virtual Rise of the Resistance Ride. If you just don’t like Star Wars, it is also “International Respect for Chickens Day.” Have a family chicken dance night.
Read Aloud: Brightly has a list of book ideas for young Star Wars fans. Not to be outdone, Bookaroo has a list of “compelling” books about chickens.
Meal Idea: I kind of feel you could mix these two holidays. Blend some blueberries with milk for some “blue milk” for your drink. For your main dish, you can have an “anything but chicken” meal.
May 5th – Cinco de Mayo
Family Fun: District del Sol in St Paul is the Mexican-American hub of the Twin Cities. Each year a huge Cinco de Mayo festival spills out into the streets. The event will be virtual in 2020, hosted on the festival’s Facebook page starting at 10am.
Read Aloud: Marco’s Cinco de Mayo by Lisa Bullard.
Meal Idea: The West Side neighborhood of St Paul is packed with authentic Mexican flavors. Pick a local taco shop or browse one of their menus online to get ideas on cooking your own Cinco de Mayo feast at home.
Learn More about Cinco de Mayo, a traditional annual celebration of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
May 6th – National Golf Day
Family Fun: As this holiday falls on a weekday in 2020, it may not be practical to drop everything and rush off to the golf course. But if you’ve got a set of clubs in the garage, you could practice your putting in the backyard or set up your own miniature golf course. Able to make an outing out of this holiday? We’ve got a cool list of the 20 best mini golf courses in the Twin Cities.
Learn More: about National Golf Day 2020.
Today is also known annually as No Homework Day! We realize this may not fly with your teachers so we’re sure you’ll use your best judgement if/when celebrating.
May 7th – World Password Day
Family Fun: Seriously, I do have a fun game for this day. I have to change my passwords at work constantly and they just get longer and more difficult every year. Then I found this Roll-A-Pass Phrase game online. Everyone in the family can roll their own Pass Phrase with a 20-sided dice and see what they come up with. You don’t even need to own the dice. You can find virtual dice online here.
Read Aloud: This could be a good day to read about and review general internet safety. If you don’t have a book, you can find basic tips online.
Learn More: about World Password Day, celebrated the first Thursday of May.
May 8th – National Have a Coke Day
Family Fun: They’re not easy to find, but a few old-fashioned soda fountain counters are still tucked away in the Twin Cities. One of our favorites is the soda fountain at St Paul Corner Drug where you can still get a small coke for less than a buck and a cup of coffee for a nickel. Add syrup and ice cream (still at throwback prices) to make it a Coke float and enjoy celebrating.
We also love the retro soda fountain at Blue Sun Soda & Sweets Shop in Spring Lake Park. Concoct a float with hundreds of soda flavors to choose from, play retro arcade games and get a glimpse of their bottling assembly line.
If you can’t get out this year, maybe you can make your own soda fountain drinks. Little Things offers several recipe ideas.
Read Aloud: The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle. This is probably my all time favorite LaRochelle book and the little boy meets the “best pet of all” at a soda fountain!
Meal Idea: How about 12 recipes that start with a can of Coca-Cola?
Learn More: about National Have a Coke Day and please enjoy the corniest Coca-Cola commercial ever made.
May 9 – International Migratory Bird Day (annually, second Saturday in May)
Family Fun: Spring is the season for birds who migrate south during the cold to return to their northern nesting grounds. Bald eagles and trumpeter swans are two majestic examples of these birds. Three Rivers Parks District heads up a Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Project in several of its parks. Try a family outing to Elm Creek Park Reserve today – bring bikes if you can (many trumpeters hang out within view of the trails) and plan for at least an hour on their gigantic playground.
Read Aloud: I loved reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White with my children.
Meal Idea: If you’re birdwatching outdoors, pack a picnic meal.
Learn More: about International Migratory Bird Day.
It’s the weekend! Wanna take a road trip with kids to learn more about migratory birds in Minnesota? The National Eagle Center is about an hour and a half’s drive from the middle of the metro in Wabasha. You can read about our family’s fun visit at the link. Kids can’t handle the car ride? We’ve had luck spotting bald eagles along the Mississippi River in Lilydale Regional Park.
Click Here for FFTC's Bookshop
FFTC earns a commission on the books purchased through the above link, and so do some of our favorite local bookshops.
SECOND WEEK OF MAY 2020
May 10 – Mother’s Day & Lilac Sunday
Family Fun: This will totally depend on the person being celebrated! If Mom might like a special family outing, we’ve got dozens of ideas on our Mother’s Day in the Twin Cities page. Or, parents might appreciate some solo R’nR (hint: Mom may not come out and tell you this. It’s worth offering!) Maybe Dad or another caregiver could consult our Family Fun Calendar for outing ideas while Mom takes a day to herself.
Read Aloud: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Unsure how to sing that song, Robert Munsch sings it for us here. You can also find the book read aloud on YouTube as well.
Meal Idea: If you can celebrate with Mom, Grandma, or another special caretaker in your life, definitely let them choose the meal and cook it for them, or let the celebrated person pick the restaurant. Personalized place settings might make a nice touch and keepsake.
Today is also National Clean Your Room Day – if you’re short on Mother’s Day gift ideas, just think how thrilled Mom would be if you surprised her with this!
May 11th – National Eat What You Want Day (It should be National Eat What You Want – as Long As You Cook It Yourself Day!)
Family Fun & Meal Idea: Do just that – call it a day where the menu is flexible and well-balanced goes out the window. Ice cream could fly for breakfast. Doritos for lunch. Donuts for dinner. Maybe this day calls for a splurge out at your family’s favorite restaurant. Indulge for the day; you can return to nutritious tomorrow.
Bonus Tie-In Holiday: Since what I want to eat every day is chocolate and coffee, I offer a big THANK YOU to the American Swedish Institute for this idea. ASI tells us that May 11th is also chokladbollens dag, or Chocolate Ball Day, in Sweden. Next year, when the museum is reopened, you can add an outing to ASI’s FIKA Cafe, but this year, ASI suggests:
“To celebrate the 5th anniversary of their book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, Johanna Kindvall and Anna Brones recently released a printable zine that includes a recipe for chokladbollar. Also look for other great tips on how the ritual of fika is especially important at this time.”
May 12th – National Limerick Day
Family Fun: Quick tutorial – a limerick is a 5-line poem where the first, second, and fifth line rhyme with each other and have 8-9 syllables. The third and fourth line rhyme with each other and have 5-6 syllables. Challenge your family members to create limericks based on the day’s activities.
Read Aloud: Read your creations aloud at dinnertime.
Learn More: about National Limerick Day.
May 13 – National Frog Jumping Day
Family Fun: This holiday is based on Mark Twain’s first short story, about a contest to see whose frog could jump highest. Put your own “frog” jumping contests in your own in your backyard. See who can jump highest, farthest, fastest and coolest.
Read Aloud: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain (99 cents on Kindle) for bigger kids or A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer for little kids.
Meal Idea: I just don’t think I could ever eat frog legs, but they sort of look like fish sticks. Close enough for me.
Learn More: about National Frog Jumping Day.
May 14th – National Dance Like a Chicken Day
Family Fun: Learn the Chicken Dance, of course, a popular polka tune at weddings. Want to spy on chickens and find out if they really dance? Dodge Nature Center in West St Paul has a working farm on its property that houses chickens (among other critters). The barns are only open for registered programs, but you can wander past the barns and get a look at the resident chickens.
Read Aloud: Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer.
Meal Idea: Finger lickin’ fried chicken sounds pretty good to us.
Learn More: about National Dance Like a Chicken Day.
May 15th – National Endangered Species Day
Family Fun: The World Wildlife Federation provides us with this list of endangered animals. Have each kid in the family pick one to learn about (black rhino, lowland gorilla, blue whale). Learn about the animal’s habitat, diet and sources of its threat – then hold a mini species fair.
Read Aloud: Don’t Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton.
Meal Plan: Eat local today. What can you make with food grown/raised withing 100 miles of your home?
Learn More: about National Endangered Species Day.
May 16 – National Learn to Swim Day
Family Fun: May is water safety month and a good time to brush up on water safety skills before the start of outdoor swimming season in the Twin Cities. When you’re ready to take the plunge, Minneapolis’ free wading pools are the perfect place to start. Rather hit up the beach? Start planning for the summer with our list of the top 20 Twin Cities beaches.
Read Aloud: Swimming lessons are among the funniest parts of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume. Read this aloud with your grade-school kids.
Snack Idea: Bring your goldfish crackers along to the park today.
Learn More: Here are some water safety tips for young swimmers courtesy our local swim school.
THIRD WEEK OF MAY
May 17 – National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day (annually, third Sunday in May)
Family Fun: As if you needed one more excuse to get out and enjoy this beautiful spring weather we’re having! Pick a new playground to explore from FFTC’s Parks & Playgrounds Search tool. Or get inspired with our list of 10 of the Best Twin Cities Playgrounds which include winners like Hyland Play Area and Central Park of Maple Grove.
Meal Idea: Pack a picnic to take along to the playground.
Learn More: about National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day.
Bonus May 17th Holiday: May 17th is Norway’s Constitution Day. Referred to simply as Syttende Mai, it is a big holiday like our 4th of July. This year, because of social distancing, the celebration has gone online and The Norway House in Minneapolis has a list of links to these celebrations plus more historical information, family fun ideas, songs and recipes to celebrate.
May 18 – International Museum Day
Family Fun: The Twin Cities is home to many superb museums for the family. A Monday is not always ideal for celebrating but if you have the luxury we have some recommendations: Any kid will love a trip to the Minnesota Children’s Museum or the Science Museum of Minnesota in St Paul. The Minneapolis Institute of Art has surprising kid appeal (and it’s free!). Lesser-known gems include The Works Museum in Bloomington and Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. If you can’t get out to a museum you could try one of these 12 Virtual Museum Tours.
Read Aloud: Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent De Brunhoff
Learn More: about International Museum Day.
May 19th – World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day
Family Fun: Gianna has the details on how to make gardening with kids an educational and emotionally beneficial activity. Not ready to commit to a full-on vegetable garden with weeding and watering responsibilities? Joy tells us how her kids started a kitchen scrap garden inside the house.
Read Aloud: Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.
Meal Idea: Today is also National Devil’s Food Cake Day. This would make for a sinfully delicious dessert idea after all those thoughts of fresh, healthy vegetables.
Learn More: about World Plant a Vegetable Garden Day.
THIRD WEEK OF MAY 2020
May 20 – World Bee Day
Family Fun: Have you heard all the buzz about the importance of protecting our pollinators? Three fun field trip ideas to learn more:
- University of St Thomas – Take the Pollinator Path to discover gardens planted to attract pollinators.
- University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center has hands-on exhibits for kids (below).
- Como Park Zoo & Conservatory – Pollinators: All the Buzz indoor greenhouse exhibit.
Want to attract pollinators right in your yard? Invite natives with a bee hotel – Modern Farmer gives you a step-by-step if you’d like to build your own.
Meal Idea: Sweeten up your meal naturally with a little honey: glaze chicken wings or add to lemonade for a refreshing twist.
Learn More: about National Bee Day.
May 21 – National Strawberries and Cream Day
Family Fun: National Strawberry Day is actually May 20, but in our neck of the woods the berries aren’t yet ripe. Pick-your-own strawberry patches typically open mid-June and make a super sweet outing with kids. Today might be perfect to plan where you’ll head with our guide to the best strawberry patches in the Twin Cities. Can’t wait for a strawberry fix? Whip up a batch of fresh strawberry ice cream right at home.
Read Aloud: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. Little Mouse worries that the Big, Hungry Bear will take his freshly picked, ripe, red strawberry for himself.
Meal Idea: Strawberries-and-cream parfaits for dessert.
Learn More: about National Strawberries and Cream Day.
May 22 – National Road Trip Day (annually, Friday before Memorial Day)
Family Fun: What says bring on summer like a family road trip? Maybe it’s time to open the cabin for the season. Maybe it’s the first camping trip of the year. Or more likely we’re just itching to hit the road – any road – after the spring we’ve been through. We have 8 great suggestions on our Family Day & Road Trips page highlighting kid-friendly activities in places like Duluth and Mankato. If you can’t spare the entire day, pick a city or suburb off the map you’ve never visited and explore. Can’t get out at all? Plan a trip together for a later date.
Read Aloud: I’ve always wanted to order this National Geographic Kids Ultimate US Road Trip Atlas to keep kids busy in the backseat.
Meal Idea: Get a taste of the local flavor at a family-owned restaurant or bar and grill along your travel route.
Learn More: about National Road Trip Day.
May 23rd – World Turtle Day
At Home Family Fun:. Make it a movie night with Turtle: The Incredible Journey. Or Study The Tortoise & The Hare with Maestro Classics – they offer affordable audio lessons and FREE study guides on the website.
Outing Idea: The boardwalk at Maplewood Nature Center is a spot you might spy a turtle out sunning itself. Even when the nature center is closed you are free to access the trails around the lake
Read Aloud: Old Turtle by Douglas Wood or Read Aesop’s Fable – The Tortoise & The Hare (download it for Kindle for 99¢).
Meal Idea: The Bread Kitchen offers this recipe for making a turtle-shaped loaf of bread with kids.
Learn More: about World Turtle Day.
Bonus May 23rd Celebration: If you are a fan of the Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, today is the official Elmer’s Day. Download an activity packet from the Elmer website; watch Author David McKee read the book aloud below; and don’t forget to have your own Elmer’s Day Parade:
FOURTH WEEK OF MAY 2020
May 24th – National Scavenger Hunt Day
Family Fun: Joy has compiled a terrific guide packed with local scavenger and treasure hunts to make this day into an exciting quest. Try your hand at geocaching (a high-tech treasure hunt) or check with a local nature center for an environmentally-friendly scavenger hunt. There’s always the DIY option whether you choose to stay at home or venture out – write your own clues or hunt for objects in the backyard.
Read Aloud: Read a search and find book, like The Lost House by B. B. Cronin.
Learn More: about National Scavenger Hunt Day.
May 25th – Memorial Day (annually, last Monday in May)
Family Fun: We salute a few of the larger celebrations in the Twin Cities on our Memorial Day round-up. This weekend, traditionally the kickoff to summer, also finds seasonal attractions opening their doors.
Read Aloud: America’s White Table, by Margot Theis Raven and Mike Benny.
Meal Idea: Gather all the family and fixings for a backyard barbecue.
Learn More: about the roots of Memorial Day, when many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service.
May 26th – National Paper Airplane Day
Family Fun: Design your own paper airplane landing strips. This is a great engineering game we love from What Do We Do All Day? Can you fold the ideal airplane to land in the correct “landing strip?” Get creative with the landing space adjusting the size to fit the kids playing.
Want to spot some real jumbo jets? The Minneapolis-St Paul Airport has a designated aircraft viewing area where you can watch exciting takeoffs and landings. There’s even a sign with details about the various planes.
Read Aloud: Warm up your best airplane sounds with Planes Go by Steve Light for toddlers; or we really like the Klutz Star Wars Folded Flyers: Make 30 Paper Starfighters Craft Kit by Ben and Pat Murphy for our older kids.
Learn More: about National Paper Airplane Day.
May 27th – National Senior Health & Fitness Day (annually, the last Wednesday of May)
Family Fun: Grab Grandma & Grandpa (or another special senior) and get out for a stroll. If you can’t get together this year, maybe you could take a virtual walk together? Walk and talk on the phone.
Read Aloud: Mr Putter & Tabby Run the Race by Cynthia Rylant will steal your heart.
Meal Idea: After all that fresh air and exercise you’ll have worked up an appetite. Cook up a healthy meal with your special senior. Save room for dessert – today is also National Grape Popsicle Day, a nod to the patent of the frozen treat-on-a-stick.
Learn More: about National Senior Health & Fitness Day.
May 28th – National Hamburger Day
Family Fun & Meal Idea: Get out the grill and make burgers, of course, topped just the way you like. Make it extra special with fries and milkshakes. Play diner and have someone take the orders and pass them on to the cook.
Read Aloud: The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith
Learn More: Did you the largest hamburger ever was cooked right here in Minnesota? Learn more about National Hamburger Day.
May 29th – National Learn About Composting Day
Family Fun: Have you ever tried composting your kitchen scraps? Today might be a great day to start. You might be surprised by all the materials you can compost right in your home and yard. Get started with tips on how to compost. Once you get started, it’s easy to make it a habit.
Meal Idea: Try making a meal using only compostable foods (no meat, dairy, fish or cooking fats except a small amount of cooking oil). What delicious plant-based recipe can you create?
Read Aloud: Worms are an important part of composting. Find a good book about worms. We love Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser
Learn More: about National Learn About Composting Day.
May 30th – International Hug Your Cat Day
Family Fun: If you can’t hug your own, make an outing to the Animal Humane Society to play with the cats waiting for a home. Families are welcome to do this almost any time, or look into programs such as preschool Furry Tales Storytime and Rescue Readers. Or check out the Humane Society’s new virtual adoption page and send warm hugs to some adorable kitties.
Read Aloud and Dessert Idea: Recite The Three Little Kittens by Mother Goose. Then “Put on your mittens, you silly kittens, And you shall have some pie.”
Learn More: about International Hug Your Cat Day.
May 31st – National Save Your Hearing Day
Family Fun: You’ve come to the end of May! Reward yourself (parents) by declaring today a VERY QUIET day. Speak in whispers. Keep the volume low. See if you can communicate without words. Read books all day or journal (it’s a Sunday). If you venture out for a walk, stay quiet and observe the almost soundless aspects of nature.
Read Aloud: Read The Napping House by Audrey Wood (quietly, of course).
Meal Idea: Did you know that you can actually eat to promote better hearing? Check out this list of Foods That Promote Hearing Health and work some into tonight’s meal.
Learn More: about National Save Your Hearing Day.