May Day! On land – though could be near the sea if you are Padstow way!

Hello! So having had a break from blogging and sharing of ideas, I decided that it is time to share again! My current sessions are based on the theme of May Day and I and sharing them with groups of adults with learning disabilities.

I have devised three session plans but each with the possibility of being repeated and extended upon. Thanks goes out as always to the people who probably have as much to do with these ideas and plans as I! So firstly to my colleague Emmie Ward – together we led joint sessions with a May Day theme around this time last year. Since then I have had ‘Unite and unite, let us all unite!’ on my mind! Emmie needs to get her own blog up and going 🙂
Also credit to the English Folk Dance and Song Society – who have a fantastic online resource bank. (I really must add some more links to this website).  For now just type in EFDSS Resource Bank and you’ll find a plethora of resources including info on May Day. I used that as my main source of research in terms of the the things that take place on May day.

I found some rhymes in a lovely and very small old book that I have from my family and I have made up simple tunes to them. The Padstow May Song and Hal An Tow (A Helston song!) are both great and very catchy and with interactive possibilities. I couldn’t really find a version to listen to of the Mayers Song, (despite googling to the best of my not always the best googler ability.) However, I like it as a rhyme too – as I first found it.

Looking at my plan below I can already see the elements that I have not actually carried out yet. Either because I decided to simply and repeat or to adapt to the different people in the group. I hope it is of some interest/help to you. I am still finding my way in the sessions I lead, especially when newer groups, however, this theme does make me happy 🙂

Plan and ideas below:


May Day

Week 1

The night before at home prep/cosy

Week 2

May Morning dew/celestial

Week 3

May Day Parade, Jovial/humour

Hello Song Good Morning, Missus and Master (smell garland) Good Morning, Missus and Master

(smell garland)

Good Morning, Missus and Master

(smell garland)

Poem/Rhyme The Mayer’s Song The Cuckoo May Gosling Fool
Soundscape Evening sounds (Fire crackling, owl hoot, Bonfire Candle to smell) Morning Sounds (chimes and morning dew to feel) Celebrations Sounds/ (Bells, clapping sticks/Money to hold)
Story Element 1


Gathering foliage & our fav things (like Milk Maids) to decorate houses/hoop/horse (Horse sounds/ snapping jaw) Crowning of the May Queen and King (crown, flower head dress) decorate with ribbons Waking up Jack O Green (green covered ball?)and joking (laughing ball/sound effects/kazoo)
Story Element 2 (Dance/tunes) play tunes on whistle and from itunes Horse dance


(Winster Gallop/Bear Dance/Three Around/Derby Kelly)

Maypole dance


(The Keel Row/ Planxty Irwin/ Seven Stars/ Si Bheag Si Mhor

Morris Dance


(Banbury Bill/Country Gardens/Brighton Camp)

Story Element 3

(May Game)

Horse Race

(Counting/Giddy Up)


(circle shape)

Cheese rolling (smelly camembert box)
Songs 1 (Main /recurring) Padstow May Song

Hal an Tow

Padstow May

Hal an Tow

Padstow May Song

Hal an Tow

Songs 2 (nursery rhyme) Horsey Horsey

Lavenders Blue

Dusty Bluebells

Sing a rainbow

This Old Man

Down By the Bay

Songs 3 (contemporary/


Here Comes the Sun/Keep on Running I’m A Believer/I saw her standing there/Doo wah diddy Old Joe Clark?
Close The Mayer’s Song – Final Verse The Mayer’s Song – Final Verse The Mayer’s Song – Final Verse


Extra songs/activities:

The Trees Grew All Around/We are Beating the Bounds

I can see clearly

Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World

Singing in the Rain/Raindrops keep falling on my head


Story/script ideas


Use a tone chime or similar – this time I used a triangle to set the tone/scene

Explain that the next few sessions are going to be on the theme of May Day and the May Day celebrations that have taken place since a long time ago!


Session 1


-Sing the hello song – allowing people to smell the scent of real blossom/flowers

-Say that it is the evening/morning and House name is getting ready for May Day.

-Say the individual names of people there who are getting ready.

-Introduce the soundscape and any related items.

-Then for session 1 for example, say persons name is collecting flowers/leaves for the May garland. Then go through everyone individually with different items to addand build hoop with them. Say that house name is trying to make the best garland in the whole of town name. (In an excited way!)

-Also prepare the horse with e.g. wooden clapping mouth and decorate with bells


Rhymes and Songs


A May Day Rhyme

{C} Good morning, Missus and Master,

I wish (up) you a happy {G} day;

{C} Please to smell my garland,

Be {G} cause it’s the {F} first of {C} May.


The Mayer’s Song

We’ve been a rambling all this night,

And sometime of this day;

And now returning back again,

We bring a branch of May.


The Mayer’s Song (Final Verse)

The moon shines bright, the stars give a light

A little before it is day,

So God bless you all, both great and small,

And send you a joyful May


The Cuckoo

The cuckoo’s a bonny bird, he whistles as he flies

He brings us good tidings, he tells us no lies;

He drinks the cold water to make his voice clear,

And when he sings cuckoo the summer is near;

Sings cuckoo in April, cuckoo in May;

Cuckoo in June, and then flies away.


May Gosling and ‘May Goslings past and gone. You’re the fool for making me one’!