Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice with Kids!


HISTORY - Solstice, from the Latin for sun stands still, in astronomy, either of the two points on the ecliptic that lie midway between the equinoxes (separated from them by an angular distance of 90°). For several days before and after each solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky—that is, its noontime elevation does not seem to change.

The Summer Solstice only happens when the Earths Axis is at its maximum tilt or inclines towards the Sun. It is a time when the sun appears to stand still in the sky and in the northern hemisphere we have the longest period of daylight of the year. This occurs in June for the northern hemisphere and the longest period of daylight happens in December in the southern hemisphere.

Funny Facts:
  • Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer (see Shakespeare), St. John's Day, or the Wiccan Litha.
  • The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun's energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.

  •  Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.

  • Today, the day is still celebrated around the world - most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

  • Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn.

LESSON - What better time is there in the year to teach the children about the Earth and Sun and how they relate to each other? Essentially why and how we have our seasons here in the northeastern hemisphere and why the sun never sets at exactly the same time. So we looked on the computer and found this really neat website that has a short video showing an example of the Earth rotating around the sun.  Click HERE to view it.  I explained to the kids that the Earth only goes around the Sun once a year and that is what marks one calendar year. As the Earth rotates around the Sun, the Earth spins on its axis. We threw in the moon for fun and then with the three of us we acted out one year. Since Lauren has some special needs and needs some extra stimulatory factors to help her recreate a year in space we went outside and drew a yellow circle. This was the Sun which I got to play. We then drew a blue and green circle around the sun about four feet from the sun. This was the Earths path around the sun. We then drew over the blue/green line with a white piece of chalk making a continuous line of circles (like a spring) to demonstrate that she was going to turn in circles as she moved around the sun in a bigger circle. Matthew who is 10 and ready for any high engery game did not need any cues to know he was going to run circles around Lauren to demonstrate the moon circling the Earth and creating 1 day. The kids actually got the concept and really laughed a lot in the recreation of this year a day at a time. We did not complete the moons 365 days but we sure did try. It was fun and at one point we fell down lauging so hard.

SUMMER SOLSTICE CRAFTDuring our Summer Solstice Party we will be making various Sun’s using many types of materials such as Paper Mache, Clay, Construction Paper, Pipe Cleaners etc.

SUMMER FAVORITE FOODS We are going to make sun sandwiches for our Summer Solstice Party but you can easily serve any of your favorite summer foods like anything BBQ, corn on the cob, watermelon etc.

SUMMER WISH LISTHave the kids create a Summer Wish List. We found a cute one on the Family Fun website that you can print out HERE

SUMMER VACATIONS / TRAVELINGNow that you have had the kids create their summer wish list you can now take the time to organize your trips.

CRAFTS THROUGHOUT THE SUMMERKeeping the kids occupied throughout the summer can be challenging. We have summer crafts lined up for them. They range from Fish made from Paper Mache to Fish made in the sand from Plaster of Paris

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