May is often a beautiful month, full of flowers and sunshine. May also celebrates a week for teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Many of the following writing prompts for each day of May are written to take advantage of this time of year. These prompts provide teachers a great way to add more writing time in class. Some have two suggestions, one for middle school (MS) and one for high school (HS). These can be simple writing assignments, warm-ups, or journal entries. Feel free to use these any way you wish.
- American Bike Month
- Flower Month
- Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month
- National Bar-B-Que Month
- National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
- Older Americans Month
- National Hamburger Month
Writing Prompt Ideas for May
May 1 - Theme: May Day
(MS) May Day is a traditional celebration of Spring in countries around the globe, often including dancing and flowers around a maypole. However, May Day is rarely celebrated in the United States. Do you think that Americans should celebrate May Day? Why or why not?
(HS) In Chicago 1886, 15 people were killed during the Haymaker Riot strikes held to protest poor working conditions. In sympathy, European nations, many socialist or communist, established May Day to honor the cause of the worker.
May 2 - Theme: Holocaust Remembrance Day
Some people argue that the Holocaust is too disturbing for students to learn about in middle school or even in high school. Write a persuasive paragraph explaining why it should be included in the curriculum.
May 3 - Theme: National Day of Prayer is usually observed on the first Thursday of May. This day is an inter-denominational event when faiths from across the country pray for the United States and its leaders. The word "pray" was first used in the early 13th century to mean "ask earnestly, beg." What would you like to "ask earnestly, beg" for in your life?
May 4 - Theme: Star Wars Day
The date comes from the catchphrase, "May the 4th force Be With You."
What is your opinion about the "Star Wars" film franchise? Do you love it, hate it? Are there reasons to appreciate the series? For example, from 2015 to the present, the film series has made millions of dollars:
- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015) over $900 million
- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017) over $600 million
- "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016) over $500 million
May 5 - Theme: Cinco de Mayo
Many people across the United States celebrate the day, but they do not know what Cinco de Mayo commemorates. The day recognizes when Mexican Army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, in 1862. Should there be more education on knowing this holiday or other international holidays?
May 6 - Theme: American Bike Month
(MS) 40% of Americans have a bicycle. Do you know how to ride a bike? Do you have a bicycle? What could be the advantages of having a bicycle? What are the disadvantages of riding a bike?
(HS) Urban planners include more bike lanes to reduce car traffic. The benefits of bicycles in cities are the reduction of car emissions and the increase of exercise. Is this planning a good thing? Or, is this planning something cities should do? Could this planning be like the idiom the says something is needed "like a fish needs a bicycle "?
May 7 - Theme: Teacher Appreciation (Week May 7-11)
What qualities do you think a great teacher must have? Explain your answer.
Do you have a favorite teacher from your school experiences? Write a letter of appreciation to that teacher.
May 8 - Theme: National Train Day
High-speed trains can travel fast with some prototypes with speeds over 400 mph. In theory, a high-speed train could race up the East Coast, from NYC to Miami, in seven hours. The same trip would take a car about 18.5 hours. Should Americans invest in high-speed rails for trains or in roads for cars? Why or why not?
May 9 - Theme: Peter Pan Day
Pretend you were in J.M. Barrie's story about Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up and remain eternally young. Which part would you most like to see or do: fly, visit with mermaids, fight the pirate Captain Hook, or meet the mischevious fairy Tinkerbell? Explain your answer.
May 10 - Theme: Civil Disobedience.
In 1994, political activist Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's 1st black president. Mandela followed the example of the civil disobedience practices used by Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Consider King's statement, "Any man who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community on the injustice of the law is at that moment expressing the very highest respect for the law."
For what injustice would you practice civil disobedience?
May 10: Theme: Postcards
In 1861, the US Post Office authorized the first postcard. Postcards are usually sent from a vacation place or as a greeting card to mark an event, or even just to say "hello".
Design a postcard and prepare a message.
May 11 - Theme: Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month
Do you have asthma or allergies? If so, what are your triggers? (What makes you have an attack or sneeze, etc.) If not, do you think that schools do enough to help those who have asthma and allergies? Why or why not?
May 12: Theme: National Limerick DayLimericks are poems with the following scheme: five-lines of an anapestic meter (unstressed syllable, unstressed syllable, stressed syllable) with a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA. For example:
"There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a Bee;
When they said, 'Does it buzz?'
He replied, 'Yes, it does!'
'It's a regular brute of a Bee!'"
Try to write a limerick.
May 13 - Theme: Mother's Day
Write a descriptive paragraph or poem about either your Mother or someone who is a Mother figure to you.
May 13 - Theme: Tulip Day
In the 17th century, tulip bulbs were so prized that traders would mortgage their houses and fields. (provide a picture or bring in real tulips). Describe a tulip or another flower using all five senses.
May 14 - Theme: Lewis and Clark Expedition
William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was able to create a map of the Louisiana Purchase by merely walking through and exploring it. Today Google uses cars with custom cameras over five million miles to develop their Google Maps apps. How do maps figure in your life? How might they figure in your future?
May 15 - Theme: L. F. Baum's Birthday - Author of the Wizard of Oz books and creator of Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Wizard.
Which character from the world of Oz would you most like to meet? Explain your answer.
May 16 - Theme: National Bar-B-Que Month
The word barbecue comes from the Caribbean word “barbacoa.” Originally, barbacoa was not a way of cooking food, but the name of a wooden structure used by indigenous Taino Indians to smoke their food. Barbeque ranks in the top 20 most popular foods in the USA. What's your favorite picnic food? Do you like bar-b-que, hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, or something else entirely? What makes it so special?
May 17 - Theme: Kentucky Derby
(MS) This horse race is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the draped blanket of roses placed over the winning horse. This idiom uses a rose, as do many other idioms. Choose one of the following rose idioms, or any other idiom you know, and give an example as to when it could be used:
(HS) Just before the race at the Kentucky Derby, the crowds sing "My Old Kentucky Home." The revised lyrics of the original song by Stephen Foster changed the word "darkies", and substituted the word "people." Crowds now sing:
"The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home
Tis summer, the people are gay… "
Should songs with questionable lyrics from years ago continue to be used for public events? Are there songs that are so inappropriate that they should be dropped entirely?
May 18 - Theme: International Museum Day
There are numerous world-class museums around the world. For example, there is The Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Hermitage. There are also some oddball museums such as Museum of Bad Art or the National Mustard Museum.
If you could create a museum about any topic, what would it be about? Describe two or three exhibits that would be in your museum.
May 19 - Theme: Circus Month
In 1768, the English equestrian Philip Astley demonstrated trick riding by trotting in a circle rather than a straight line. His act was named a 'circus.' As today is circus day, you have a choice of topics:
- If you were in a circus, which performer would you be and why?
- Do you like circuses? Explain your answer.
- Do you think circuses should feature animals? Why or why not?
May 20 - Theme: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Each state requires a specific number of minutes that students should participate in physical activity. If your state requires physical fitness activity for the next 30 minutes, what activity would you choose? Why?
May 21 - Theme: Lindbergh Flight Day
On this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off on his famous flight across the Atlantic. Would you like to learn how to fly a plane? Why or why not?
May 22 - Theme: Older Americans Month
Do you believe that older Americans are treated with enough respect today? Explain your answer.
May 23 - Theme: World Turtle/Tortoise Day
Today is World Turtle Day. Conservation efforts are demonstrating success, and turtle populations are up. Tortoises can live long lives. One, Adwaita the Tortoise (1750-2006), is reputed to have lived over 250 years. What events would a tortoise who lived that long have witnessed? What event would you like to have seen?
May 24 - Theme: First Morse Code Message Sent
A simple substitution code is when you replace each letter with a different letter. For example, all A's become B's, and B's become C's, etc. I have written the following sentence using this type of code so that each letter of the alphabet is written as the letter that comes after it. What does my sentence say? Do you agree or disagree with it?
Dpef csfbljoh jt fbtz boe gvo.
May 25 - Theme: John F. Kennedy's Speech About Sending a Man to the Moon
On this day in 1961, John F. Kennedy said that America would send a man to the moon before the end of the 1960s.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
Why is this speech so significant? Should Americans continue space exploration because it is "hard"?
May 26 - Theme: National Hamburger Month
On average, Americans eat three hamburgers a week. What is your favorite type of hamburger or veggie burger? Is it plain or with toppings like cheese, bacon, onions, etc.? If not a hamburger, what food do you (or could you) eat three times a week? Describe a favorite food using at least three of the five senses.
May 27 - Theme: Golden Gate Bridge Opens
The Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol of San Francisco, recognizable by people all over the world. Do you have any symbols or monuments for your city or community? What are they? Even if you don't have a symbol that you can think of, explain why you think these types of symbols are important to people.
May 28 - Theme: Amnesty International Day
The goal of Amnesty International is to protect and promote human rights across the world. Their motto is, "Fight injustice and help create a world where human rights are enjoyed by all."
In some countries, genocide (the systemized killing of an entire ethnic group) is still being carried out. What is the responsibility of the United States? Do we have a duty to step in and stop these types of human rights violations? Explain your answer.
May 29 - Theme: Paper Clip Day
The paperclip was created in 1889. There is a paperclip game to play that pits you against market forces. There is also a movie, Paper Clips, featuring middle school students who collected one paper clip for each person exterminated by the Nazis. The paper clip was also a symbol of resistance in Norway against Nazi occupation. This small everyday object has made its way into history. What other uses could you come up with for a paper clip?
Theme: Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that originated when decorations were placed on the graves of Civil War soldiers. Decoration Day gave way to Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
What are three things that we can do to honor those men and women who died while serving in our military?
May 30- Theme-Emerald Gemstone
The emerald is May's gemstone. The stone is a symbol of rebirth and is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. The color green is associated with new life and the promise of spring. What promises of spring do you see now?
May 31 - Theme: Meditation Day
A combination of anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that meditation in schools may help improve grades and attendance. Yoga and meditation may help students at all grade levels feel happier and more relaxed. What do you know about meditation and yoga? Would you like to see meditation programs brought into your school?