May is a busy month. You can hard boil an egg on your barbecue in a pan of salsa with hamburgers for your family and then pound a drum to call everyone to dinner.
Yes!!! May is …
Egg Month, and …
Barbecue Month, and …
Salsa Month, and …
Hamburger Month, and …
Family Month, and …
Drum Month, and ….
Lots of other things month.
For many, May is when school is ending and summer is about to begin. May is when the world is coming back to life. Flowers are blooming, birds are tweeting, squirrels are … well, being squirrely. May is often a good time to take a nice, deep breath and relax. A time to appreciate what is around you.
A part of that is why May is Family Month. Do you have a big family? Or a small family? Often, friends are part of “family.”
One piece of that is that May brings us Mother’s Day. (Next month, in June, is Father’s Day.) It doesn’t have to be just ONE day, though. Why not spend the whole MONTH showing Mom that she is appreciated?
Now let’s look more closely at a few of those MONTHLY things.
You may not know it but almost all creatures come from eggs, one way or another – not just chickens and other birds. (Even plants come from “eggs” – although we call them seeds.) Some animals lay eggs, including frogs and insects. Most carry the eggs inside. Some of those later lay them, some keep them inside and the babies are “born alive.” When Danny was young, he had different kinds of fish. Have you ever had fish? It was interesting to watch. Some of his fish kept the eggs inside and when the time came, tiny new fish would come out. A favorite were the angel fish. They would lay sticky eggs on a piece of slate and then clean and watch over them. After a while, tiny baby angel fish would hatch out. They didn’t look much like the parents, at least not at first. But then, a newly hatched chick doesn’t look much like a grown hen or rooster. Gordie hatched from an egg. In a way, so did you. You came from an egg.
“Note that the video is sped up 30 times normal”
“Have you ever seen an octopus hatch? Now you have!”
Much of the time, we only think of eggs as something to eat. Well, that’s okay. Do you like yours scrambled? Over-easy? Last month was Easter. A lot of us had Easter Eggs. Those are usually boiled. French toast is bread dipped in an egg batter. Have you ever had caviar? That’s fish eggs (called roe).
Drums were likely the very first musical instruments. Hit a rock with a stick, hit a stick with a stick … you have a drum! To make it sound better, you can make one part hollow. Hollowed out logs are still used in some places. Or you can put something tight over the hollow part – like an animal skin – and hit that. Of course, these days most drums use other things, like plastics. Even the way you hit the drum is done in many ways. Some drums use your hand. Some use sticks – and sticks of different kinds and shapes. Drum “kits” also include things like cymbals, cow bells, wood blocks – just about anything that makes a noise. Ahhh, but it’s not just “noise.” Many different notes can be made. *Listen to some drums.*
In the past – even today – drums are used to communicate. To send messages. In a way, that’s how Morse Code came to be. Do you know anything about Morse Code? It’s short sounds, long sounds, and no sounds between. It’s like on’s and off’s. (Guess what. That’s what your computer is doing right now! It’s called digital.) Boom-boom-boom-boom (pause) boom-boom. That means “HI!” If you try to shout that across a distance, no one will hear. Pound it on a drum, it can be heard from far away.
Maybe you would like to make a drum? It’s not difficult. Here is just one way.
“Salsa” is Spanish for “sauce,” but it’s a special kind of sauce. At least most people think of it that way. “Sauce” can be just about anything. “Salsa” uses peppers, often hot peppers, with other things like tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Most people also add cilantro. There are almost as many ways to make salsa as there are the number of people who eat it. To make your own almost always requires lots and lots of cutting. An adult will be needed for that. Or – most stores carry many choices of pre-made salsa. You can also get pre-made tortilla chips for dipping. Or – you can try spooning it onto so many different things, like scrambled eggs. Burritos (various things wrapped and rolled in a tortilla) often have salsa in them. You have a whole month to learn more about salsa. Maybe you can learn to make your own. At least you can explore ways salsa is used to make special foods. It’s usually green or red, but other colors come into it. It can be very hot, or very mild. It can be chunky or almost soupy.
The barbecue is about as old as things get. It’s pretty much cooking food over a fire. The barbecue of today makes that easier. Usually it has a grill. That’s like a rack with holes. The fire might be wood, charcoal (which is pretty much pre-burned wood), gas or something else. There are even electric barbecues. They can be very small, such as for just one person – or large enough for an entire neighborhood party. And then there is barbecue SAUCE! (A little known secret is that Danny’s mother makes the best barbecue sauce in the whole wide world! We never recommend products here, but … keep this quiet … if you can find some “Danny’s Mother’s Barbecue Sauce” at the store, get a few cases of it.)
May brings us Mother’s Day, and June brings us Father’s Day. Then there are brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfathers and grandmothers – and with all of that there are ancestors. Ancestors are those who were here before we were here. In May, you can ask those in your family to tell you about that. And in May you can appreciate your own family – Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the rest. What a great time for the family to do things together. Picnics, backyard games, camping … or maybe just pop some corn and watch a movie together. It’s MAY – so MAYbe you can plant some MAY flowers together.
MAY 1 – DANDELION (1-2)
Do you remember *Paulie the Passionate Purple Plant from the Pampas of Peru?* Paulie fell in love with Daisy Dandelion. Well, that was okay because although Paulie was purple, he wasn’t from the Pampas, and the Pampas aren’t even in Peru. (They’re in Argentina.) And Daisy wasn’t a daisy, and she wasn’t a lion. But she was dandy! At least Paulie thought so. To this day, Paulie and Daisy celebrate May 1, both as May Day (although they’re not in trouble) and as Dandelion Day (although Daisy isn’t a daisy, and … you know). They like it so much that Dandelion Day is actually Dandelion DayS. These are May 1 AND May 2. Paulie loves Daisy. Many people think of dandelions just as weeds. Lots of people think of them as salad!
MAY 2 – MARTIN Z. MOLLUSK
We’ve had Groundhog Day. That’s when the groundhog comes out of the burrow. If he sees his shadow, he gets frightened and goes back into the burrow. That means we get six more weeks of winter. Something similar happens in Ocean City, New Jersey. A hermit crab with the name Martin Z. Mollusk crawls up on the 9th Street Beach. If he sees his shadow, Martin knows that the warmth of summer will come one week early. Hermit crabs are interesting creatures. Most crabs – most mollusks – have hard shells to protect them. Hermit crabs don’t. Outside they are soft. That’s why they go searching for sea shells to make their homes. Of course, there isn’t much room inside a sea shell, so … of course they are hermits.
MAY 3 – BE KIND TO ANIMALS WEEK (3-9)
FAMILY WEEK (3-9)
HUG YOUR CAT (SEE 29)
This day is, and starts, a lot of things. As a day, this is Hug Your Cat Day. (If you forget, there is another Hug Your Cat Day on May 29.) Nicely, today also begins Be Kind to Animals Week. Of course, we should be kind to animals every day of every week of every month of every year (and so on). Coincidentally, today also begins Family Week, and cats are often part of the family. How nice that this is also Family Month. And don’t forget that May 10 is Mother’s Day. She is certainly part of the family for Family Week and Family Month. Oh, and May 10 also starts INTERNATIONAL Family Week. Whew! There will be lots of hugging this month – cats, dogs, the family zebra, Mom, Dad, grandparents, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin – and lots of chances to do it.
MAY 4 – MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU
Do you like Star Wars? A classic line is, “May the force be with you.” May FOURTH has been chosen to honor Star Wars. “May the FOURTH be with you.” Get it? It’s May. It’s the FOURTH. So, “May the FOURTH be with you.” And here it is. http://www.starwars.com/may-the-4th
MAY 5 – REVENGE OF THE FIFTH
“May the Fourth be with you” wasn’t enough. Of course, “Star Wars” wasn’t enough. It became a whole series of movies, cartoons and other things. A later movie was “Revenge of the Sith.” Since yesterday was, “May the fourth be with you,” today has become, “Revenge of the FIFTH.”
MAY 8 – VE DAY
Too often in our histories there have been people who want to control everything. One word for this kind of person is tyrant. One of these was Adolf Hitler. He wanted to rule the entire world, starting with Europe. Millions of people died, and millions more suffered. This kind of thing has been going on throughout all history, and still continues. These tyrants never seem able to understand that sooner or later, the people just don’t like it. In this case, Hitler caused a vicious world war. He lost, as all tyrants lose eventually. VE Day is Victory in Europe. Hitler’s Empire was stopped. The war continued until VJ Day – victory over Japan. After that, World War 2 was finally over.
MAY 9 – MOTHER OCEAN
In 2013, the South Florida Kayak Fishing Club went to the City of Miami with an idea. This club wanted to help people realize the beauty of the ocean. For it, you don’t need a kayak. You don’t even need an ocean. You can celebrate just by having some sea food. Can you name all the oceans? You could learn them for this day. You can even see where they are in an atlas, or better yet on a globe of our planet.
MAY 10 – MOTHER’S DAY; UNIVERSAL FAMILY WEEK (10-16)
Yesterday was Mother Ocean Day. Nicely, today begins Universal Family Week (May 10-16). And today is the day especially for Mom! Danny and Nicker have planned special things for their mothers. (You can read it in *Story Hour.*) There have been different kinds of mother’s days for thousands of years. It’s how we came across things like “mother earth” and “mother ocean.” The Mother’s Day we know now began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother. It became official in 1910, then national in 1914. That’s just America, though. The actual date changes from one country to another. In America, it’s the second Sunday in May. In Romania, it’s the first Sunday in May. In France, it’s the last Sunday in May. In Argentina it’s the third Sunday in October, and in Russia is the last Sunday in November.
MAY 13 – FROG JUMPING
If you’ve never noticed, frogs hop. They also swim and dig and eat flies and ribbit. In 1865, a man named Samuel Clemens wrote a short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Clemens is better know as Mark Twain. His most famous books are “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn,” but he wrote many other things. This story is set in Calaveras County in California. Now it is an annual event there – and a few other places. It has been told and retold many times, including with Legos!
MAY 14 – CHICKEN DANCE
Would you like to have some fun? This dance is so easy to learn. You can be as silly as you want. It’s also called “the Birdie Song” and sometimes “the Duck Song” (chickens and ducks ARE birds, and the song has flapping wings). It was original meant for the accordion. The song was written by Werner Thomas of Switzerland in the 1950s. By the 1970s it was a major hit through much of the world. It’s easy to learn, and fun to do.
“A different kind of chicken dance”
MAY 15 – CHOCOLATE CHIP; PIZZA PARTY
May 15 is also pizza day. It’s a kind of baked flat bread, most often with a tomato sauce and cheese, and many times with other toppings. Although flat bread has been around for thousands of years, the use of the word “pizza” was from 1000 years ago in Gaeta, Italy. The kind of pizza you probably know came originally from Naples, Italy. Hmmm, since this is chocolate chip day … what would a chocolate chip pizza be like? (Oh well. Get a chocolate chip cookie and pretend it’s a small pizza.)
MAY 16 – ARMED FORCES
Sad to say, there are bullies out there who want to have charge and make us do things. This might be just one bully in your school, or it could be a bully who wants even more control – like to take over an entire country or more. This is often done with armed forces. That means that armed forces are needed to stop them. Today is just one day in the year to thank those who risk their lives to stop the bullies.
MAY 18- BACKYARD GAMES WEEK (18-25)
May has Mother’s Day. It’s also Family Month. What a chance to get together in the backyard for some games. Just what you do depends on how much room you have, and what is at hand. Badminton is great game but needs some room. Hop-scotch is also lots of fun. There are things like horseshoes, water balloons (if it’s not too cold), or just plain ol’ catch. (How about catching water balloons?) There are many ways to play marbles! You can have races, do lawn bowling, or use your imagination and invent a whole new game all your own.
MAY 19 – MAY RAY DAY
After a long, gray, cold winter, this is the day to come out into the sun. “Catch some rays.” Even so, you may want to use sun screen lotion, especially if you will be out for very long. If it’s raining, that’s okay. You can call it “May Rayn Day” and still have fun.
MAY 21 – MUDBUG MADNESS (21-24)
Most call them crawfish (or crayfish). This is a bit strange because they’re not fish, and they don’t have craws (or crays), they have claws (and often live in clays, but not crays). They’re much like a fresh water version of a lobster. This is interesting, too. Although they prefer water that is clean and clear, they’re often in or at least around mud. Also, they look a little like bugs. So, they are sometimes called mudbugs. The most common way to cook them for eating is by boiling. After that, just about anything is okay, although hot (Cajun) sauces are thought to be the ONLY way to eat mudbugs. There are several of these celebrations around the country at different times. The biggest is on this weekend in Shreveport, Louisiana.
MAY 23 – JAZZ; TAFFY; TURTLE
How perfect! This weekend is for crawfish – or crayfish – or mudbugs – there in Louisiana. May 23 is Jazz Day, and New Orleans (in Lousiana) is famous for jazz. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get there, eat mudbugs and listen to the Mudbug Brass Band!
MAY 24 – MORSE CODE
This is Drum Month. Mostly drums are to make music. They have also been used – and still are – to send messages. Samuel Morse used this idea along with the new uses of electricity. Short signals (dit) and long signals (dah) were used to instantly messages across great distances. Before that, if you wanted to ask your friend Billy to come play … well, you could walk, or if in a hurry could ride a horse. The farther Billy was away, the longer it would take for him to say, “I can’t come.” Morse developed a code with dits and dahs that could go across a wire. It was called telegraph. Later, the same idea was used to send signals not just over wires but over the air. Around the world! If you were in Boston wanted to say hello to your cousin Betsy in London, it could be there in much less than a second. In a way, Morse Code is still used, but it’s just on-or-off. It’s called digital. Computers use it. Ham radio operators still use it, just as it was.
MAY 25 – MEMORIAL DAY
Earlier this month was Armed Forces Day. That is to honor all who served, and still serve. This day is special. It’s for those who served … and died. It’s a day to remember them. It’s a day to hope that one day we won’t need a day like this – other than to remember.
MAY 28 – SLUGS RETURN FROM CAPISTRANO (WELLCAT)
Our friends from *wellcat.com* are always so clever. Well known all over the world is how the swallows return to Capistrano, Italy. Birds migrate. That means they go somewhere else for a while. Then they come home. That happens with other birds, and other creatures, in all sorts of places. Then there are all the animals that have simply been hiding through the winter then come out in the spring. One of those is the slug, which is somewhat related to the snail – except it doesn’t have a shell. You probably have snails and slugs where you live, too. They come out in the spring, so … why not come back in Capistrano, too?
MAY 29 – HUG YOUR CAT; BATS
Yesterday was slugs, and today is hugs. Look back at May 3. That was another Hug Your Cat Day, and also the start of Appreciate Animals Week. That includes bats, which is a good thing because May 29-31 is for bats – although you may not want to hug a bat. Isn’t it interesting? Cats don’t fly but do chase mice. And bats look like flying mice, but cats don’t chase them much because … cats don’t fly. Both are very good in the dark, though. Cats have really good eyes and also use their whiskers. Bats squeak at a high pitch humans can’t hear, but bats can. It works a little like radar. Those squeaks bounce off cave walls and so on to tell the bats where they are so they don’t crash.
MAY 30 – WATER A FLOWER
“April showers bring May flowers (and Mayflowers bring Pilgrims)” … but sometimes flowers need help, especially those in pots. It’s not too late to get some potted flowers to grow in your kitchen. Then you can learn how to give them water. Not too much, not too little. Some flowers have special needs, though. You can use this time to learn more about the flowers where you live.
MAY 31 – MACAROON
This is fun! A lot of people think that macaroons are French cookies. Sure, they can be. They can also be small cakes from just about anywhere. The name comes from Italy – maccherone. That means “paste” and for this usually means almond paste. But, it doesn’t have to. Shredded coconut is very common.
Next, we go into June. Summer really DOES begin (on June 21). We have Father’s Day, Backyard Campout Day, Yo-Yo Day … oh, my, all sorts of things! Come back next month and learn more about how Gordie the Tortie came to live with Danny and Nicker. We’ll have new pictures and video of Gordie, too. Bookmark us to make it all even easier.