Mother’s Day, celebrated the second Sunday of May, is a wonderful time to honor another special educator in a child’s life, his mother. If you are looking for some history behind this important day, as well as some engaging and eco-friendly Mother’s Day activities to try with your class, then read on.
The History of Mother’s Day
Celebrating a day for mothers dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. In ancient Greece, there was an annual spring festival to honor maternal goddesses. In Rome, there was a similar spring festival, entitled Hilaria celebrating the mother goddess Cybele. Decades later in the UK, a “Mothering Sunday” was annually observed. The festivity of Mother’s Day, as we know it in the United States, has only been present on our calendars for less than a hundred years and can be commended to the efforts of two women, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis. Howe, a writer, activist, and poet, suggested in 1872 that June 2 be celebrated as a day for mothers and peace. Later, Anna Jarvis, who never had children of her own, but loved and honored her mother, started a campaign to create a national holiday for mothers. Her efforts were received well and in 1911, President Woodrow Wilson signed a resolution to designate the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. Today, this holiday is celebrated in the US, UK, India, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium (www.mothersdaycelebration.com). Now that we have covered the history of this special day, let’s explore some ways to celebrate it in your classroom.
Mother’s Day Reading
Especially for young learners, engaging in new reading material based on educational themes can be inviting and fun. If you would like to incorporate Mother’s Day-themed titles into your curriculum, here are a few books to note:
- I Love you Forever, by Robert N. Munsch, Sheila McGraw
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying around the World, by Emery Bernhard
- A Present for Mom, by Vivian French
- No Time for Mother's Day, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Decorative Terra Cotta Pots filled with Organic Plants
This is a craft that I participated in as a second grader and gave to my mom as a Mother’s Day gift. She still has this pot and treasures it. This is a simple activity/gift that can work in any classroom.
- Terra cotta plant pots (you can ask students to bring one in from home or both Michaels and Jo Ann Fabrics offer a 15% discount with a school ID)
- Water based color paints and brushes
- 1 bag of organic soil
- Organic seeds (oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage herbs grow well indoors)
*Note: It is helpful to have a classroom volunteer on hand, and this craft will take several days due to drying time for the paint and gesso.
- Covering your work surface with newspaper or newsprint, first demonstrate applying the gesso paint to the surface of the terra cotta pot to your class and the invite them to do the same. After this first step, set the pots aside to dry.
- Again, with a covered work surface using the colored paint and brushes, allow your learners to decorate the pot for their moms however they choose. Allow them to dry.
- Next, fill the pots with organic soil and seeds; lightly moisten the seeds using a water spray bottle. Another variation for easy classroom to home transport is to send home a seed mix with organic soil and seeds combined. The process of planting could be a mother/child activity.
- Optional: Here is a fun poem to include with the potted plant:
I am your little flower, Mom.
I’m different from the rest:
Don’t pick me Mom, just help me grow
To be my very best.
Mother's Day Lessons:
Young scholars plan and deliver a speech about sending their mother on a "trip" for Mother's Day. They conduct research on the location, and present the trip as a live performance to their mothers.
Primary Learners create a Mother's Day Coupon Book, full of coupons that can be exchanged for special services rendered by learners.
Learners brainstorm a list of writing topics for a "Memories of Mom" book. They choose one of the topics as the subject of a daily essay and combine a week of daily essays into a book to give their mothers for Mother's Day.