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Read, Bake and Make: 9 Kid-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Teachers, Moms and Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage

A young mother takes a selfie with her son, who has Down syndrome, in the park.
May is perfect for celebrating some of the people who make our lives richer.
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Estas actividades están disponibles en español.

May is a month of appreciation for people and individuals who teach us new things and make our communities richer. Teacher Appreciation Week is from May 2 to 6, while May 8 is Mother's Day. May is also Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a month to explore and learn about cultures, traditions and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Read on to discover books to read and activities (including a delicious recipe!) to try at home with your child to honor these celebrations.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher and elementary school students, fun in classroom
A teacher laughs with her students.

1. Write a Teacher Appreciation Card
Help your child express their gratitude for their teachers through writing with a PBS KIDS Teacher Appreciation Mad Libs template or Printable Thank You card. Print it, have your child fill it out, and take it to school to show teachers they're appreciated.

2. Create a Yarn-Wrapped Picture Frame
Help your child create a gift for their favorite teacher by making a yarn-wrapped picture frame. Instead of using a photo of your child, you can also have your child draw a picture of them with their teacher! You'll need one picture frame, glue or tape, different colors of yarn, scissors, and a picture to place in the frame. You can find the full instructions on the PBS KIDS for Parents website.

  • If you're using a pre-made picture frame, start by removing the glass and backing of the picture frame. If you don't have a picture frame handy, you can make one by cutting out a cardboard frame from a cereal box.
  • Cut 18" pieces of yarn. Practice patterns by using repeating color sequences and picking two or more colors of yarn. After deciding on a pattern, you can start it and ask your child which colors come next.

  • Have your child help with wrapping the yarn around the frame following this pattern. Glue or tape one end of the yarn piece to the back of the frame, then start wrapping the yarn tightly around the frame in an "over, under" pattern. When you reach the end of the piece of yarn, put a dot of glue on the back of the frame under the yarn and trim off any extra yarn that's still showing. Repeat this with the next color of yarn in the pattern.
  • When the glue has dried, reassemble the frame. Since the yarn will push the glass backward a little, you may need to add tape to the frame to keep everything in place.

3. Read Books About Terrific Teachers
Check out the "Teachers are Terrific" book list from PBS KIDS for Parents about teachers who encourage their students' curiosity and self-expression and help them learn and grow. Another great book is "The Art of Miss Chew" by Patricia Polacco (Ages 5-8), about a teacher who encourages a student to pursue her love of art.

Mother's Day

These activities celebrate Mom and provide opportunities to engage and bond as a family.

4. Create a Fun Story About Mom

  • Prepare by asking your child, "If Mom was a superhero, what power would she have?"
  • Begin the story with the sentence starter, "One day, Super-Mom…"
  • Use pieces of paper to draw or write events that occurred in order. You can support your child's storytelling by going back and forth, each adding a part to the story.
  • Have your child use crayons or colored pencils to illustrate what happens in the story.
  • Add page numbers and make the story into a book by adding a front cover and stapling the left-hand side near the edge three times. (Take a peek at other fun activities to help your kid learn numbers and counting.)
  • Finally, have your child read the story aloud to Mom as a Mother's Day treat!

5. Make a Map of Your Favorite Places to Spend Time With Mom
Creating and using maps helps children develop their spatial sense and location and position vocabulary. For this activity, you will need a map of your neighborhood or city, colored pencils or crayons and a piece of paper.

  • Start by brainstorming places in your local area or neighborhood where your child spends time with mom. Some examples include home, the park, the grocery store, Grandma's house, the library, a restaurant, or school.
  • Next, print out a map of your neighborhood or search for it on your phone to show your child. Help your child find the locations they brainstormed on the map and draw circles around these locations.
  • Create a simple map of your chosen area on a separate piece of paper, highlighting major streets and features like any hills or the ocean.
  • Have your child think of their favorite memories at the locations you circled together and how they might be represented as a picture. For example, you could represent a favorite neighborhood restaurant together with a drawing of your child's favorite dish.
  • Using the printed or phone map as a guide, have your child draw pictures on the paper in the corresponding locations representing time spent with mom. Use location and position words to determine where the pictures will go (e.g., above, below, between). For example, "The park picture goes between these two streets."
  • Have your child color in the map and give the map a title like "My Favorite Places With Mom." Then, your kid can give it to mom as a gift!

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This celebration is an opportunity to talk about the contributions of people of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent to the world.

6. Play With Shapes on a Tangram Puzzle

A tangram is arranged in the shape of a cat.
A tangram can even become a kitty. | Yesenia Prieto

This hands-on craft celebrates Chinese tradition and teaches kids about shapes. Made of seven shapes that can come together in different ways to create new shapes, tangrams are puzzles that originated in ancient China. You can help kids develop their spatial sense by using location and position words to describe the movement of the tangram pieces like above, below, next to, right, and left. Encourage your child to use location and position words by asking questions like, "Where do you think this shape will go?" You can also explore geometry by describing the shapes, counting the number of corners and sides, and saying each shape's name together. Want to go even further with shapes? Watch our video on how to spot shapes in your groceries.

7. Make a Paper Lei
Explore patterns and Hawaiian culture with this fun paper lei activity inspired by Raising Veggie Lovers that celebrates Hawaii's beautiful flower leis. Depending on what flowers are used to make leis, they can symbolize love, friendship, celebration, etc. Your child can create lei for themselves or share with a friend! For this activity, you'll need colored paper, scissors, a pen or pencil, paper straws, yarn, a toothpick and tape.

  • To begin, draw and cut out a simple flower shape. This shape will serve as a template to trace on colored paper to make the flowers for your lei. You'll need 20 or more flowers for each lei. Use different colors of paper to create fun color patterns.
  • Cut a piece of yarn to approximately 2 feet long and create a "needle" to lace through your flowers by taping a toothpick to the end of the yarn. Use the toothpick to make a hole in the center of your first flower and pull the needle through to lace the flower onto the string.
  • Next, cut paper straws into approximately 1-inch pieces. Use the paper straw pieces as spacers between each flower.
  • Create a pattern of colors and materials. For example, your pattern could be "straw, red flower, straw, yellow flower, straw, pink flower." Lay out the flower pattern before adding them to the lei. Have your child add to the pattern by asking, "What comes next?"
  • Tie the ends together and gift it to a family member or friend.

8. Try a Pani Popo Recipe
Explore with the senses as a family by making Pani Popo from Favorite Family Recipes, a delicious Samoan treat. Baking offers endless opportunities for math learning! For example, you can have your child help you evenly arrange frozen dinner rolls on a glass baking dish, counting out loud how many rolls are in each row and column to ensure they are the same. Have your child help you measure one cup of sugar to mix with canned coconut milk you will pour over the buns. When you bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes, set a timer, count the minutes backward to zero, and then enjoy your Pani Popo together!

9. Read Books Written by and Featuring the AAPI Community

Check out our list of 12 children's books that celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage by offering positive, diverse representations of Asian American and Pacific Islander history and culture for preschool and elementary-age children.

You can also check out these extra books that honor and celebrate the AAPI community.

Bonus! Play With a Homemade Balance Scale

a Tarahumara doll and a small toy car hang in a balance scale made out of a hanger and berry containers
This balance scale can help kids compare the weights of all kinds of small toys. | Victoria Gonzalez

In this activity, you and your child will make a balance scale with a hanger to compare the weight of different objects and get measurement games you can play again and again. Paper cups work great for this activity because they are easy to pierce. Children can also use markers or stickers to decorate the paper cups! Plastic berry cartons with holes in the sides are also easy to use.

Want even more fun with measuring weights? Check out our other balance scale activity you can make using only paper cups, a ruler, a marker and tape.

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