Solstice is observed every year and marks the beginning of the next season. But wait! Do you know what is a Solstice? Why we have solstice? Is it because of the revolution of the Earth around the Sun or is it due to the tilt of the Earth?
If that’s what your kiddo (and you!) wants to know, you have come to the right place. We promise to simplify the ‘academic’ stuff.
Hop on to the sections that interests you most (or better read them all!!)
Table of Contents:
- What is a Solstice
- Why Do We Observe Solstice Every Year?
- Solstice Fun Facts
- Solstice Activities for Kids
- Solstice Books for Kids
What is a Solstice?
Summer days are long and hot. With more sunlight hours, we observe the longest day of the year during this time in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, is mostly observed on 20th or 21st June. The same day is also the shortest in the Southern Hemisphere, coinciding with the onset of winter season.
The opposite of Summer Solstice is Winter Solstice that occurs between 20th and 23rd December. Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day of the Southern Hemisphere.
Why Do We Observe Solstice Every Year?
The reason we experience solstices every year is because our planet is tilted at an angle of 23.4 degrees on its rotational axis. That means that instead of being straight in its orbit around the Sun, Earth is inclined at an angle.
As it revolves around the Sun, every year around June 20th or 21st, it is at a point where the North pole is closest to the Sun.
Being closest to the Sun also means plenty of light and that is why during Summer Solstice, we receive sunlight for maximum time during the day. Thus, making Summer Solstice the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere.
Now since the North pole is tilted towards the Sun, it implies the South pole must face away from the Sun. Hence, indicating less light and winter season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Fun Facts About Solstice
1. The word Solstice originates from Latin words Sol meaning Sun and Sistere that means to stand still.
2. During Summer Solstice, North Pole gets 30% more energy from the Sun than the Equator.
3. Despite being the longest day, Summer Solstice is not the warmest day of the year. This is because it takes Earth and its water bodies a lot of time (almost a month) to reflect the extra heat received on Summer Solstice and the days after.
4. Days start getting shorter after Summer Solstice in Northern Hemisphere and longer in Southern Hemisphere.
5. The region north of the Arctic Circle witnesses 24 hours of continual sunlight during summer solstice and no sunlight during winter solstice.
6. Around midday on Summer Solstice, the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. On Winter Solstice, the Sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn.
7. Ancient people built monuments to celebrate the winter solstice. These include Newgrange of Ireland, Nasca Lines of Peru and Egypt’s temple of Karnak.
8. Iran’s Yalda festival, China’s Dōngzhì festival celebrate Winter Solstice.
Love these fun facts? We have got loads more…check out Fun Facts For Kids – Weird But True!
Summer Solstice Activities for Kids
Making a Sundial is a perfect STEM inspired craft to celebrate Solstice. It also doubles up as a cool science school project for kids. It integrates elements of math with science perfectly, making it a wonderful STEM project for kids that is easy and fun.
What you will need:
- Craft paper
- Clay/ Dough
2. Sunny Side Eggs
What better way to celebrate Solstice than with a healthy nutritious breakfast treat! Teach your kids to make sunny side up eggs to mark this special day.
3. DIY Stonehenge
This ancient structure is believed to mark the Summer Solstice and so it makes a perfect sense to make your very own Stonehenge model.
Use a picture of the celebrated structure as reference and design your very own Stonehenge using Jenga tiles or cardboard.
A great engineering project for kids, this one is surely going to delight your kids.
4. Chocolate Chip Marshmallows
Another delicious activity for Summer Solstice, this one needs marshmallows and of course chocolate chips.
Observe the power of Sun’s heat and utilize the longer sunlight with this activity.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on marshmallows and place them in the sun. Be ready to devour melted chocolate chips with marshmallows after a few hours.
This is a wonderful activity to do with little kids. All you need is a sheet of dark coloured paper and a few loose parts like blocks, clay, pebbles etc. These sun prints can later be used for beautiful wrapping sheets and cards.
6. Sun Flower Craft
This is such a cool way to celebrate the Sun and Solstice. Perfect for kids of all ages.
Help your children make their own crazy sunglasses for the longest day of the year with this easy tutorial. We love it for its creative take!
8. Sun Catchers
These sun catchers make the perfect decorations for Summer Solstice. What you need is wax paper, crayon shavings and glue.
Step 1: Fold the wax paper into half and draw a sun on one side.
Step 2: Cut the sun out using scissors. You will get two of these.
Step 3: Using a grater, make some crayon shavings in the colour of your choice.
Step 4: Place these shavings on one of the suns. Place the second layer of the sun to hold the shavings and paste the sides using glue.
Your sun catcher is ready. Hang it on the wall or stick it onto a windowpane where it can catch the sunlight streaming in.
9. Sun Weaving
This is a wonderful Solstice craft for kids which integrates math and arts together. Make your own weaving patterns and set your Sun craft up for display.
Make your solstice celebrations memorable with this simple sun photo frame craft. And even if you do not really observe solstice, this Sun craft is a great way to simply thank Sun for its warmth.
Solstice Books for Kids
A great way to learn about solstice and help your children actually remember these astronomical events is through books. Besides their other numerous benefits, books are a natural conduit to learning, joy and fun.
Here is our list of solstice books, segregated into Winter and Summer solstice, which will delight your kids and add to their solstice celebrations.
Summer Solstice Books for Kids
This lovely book about summer solstice explains the science behind the event and takes its readers on a cultural ride while exploring various traditions associated with summer solstice.
It is a great resource for children of all ages. Lyrical writing coupled with beautiful illustrations makes this book a joy to read.
Explore the wonder of solstice at the North Pole through this heart-warming book. A visual treat, this book is illustrated by award-winner illustrator, Jeremiah Trammell.
“Under the Alaska’s Midnight Sun” will widen your child’s knowledge and understanding of life at the poles.
Targeted at younger audience – 3 years and above – this book is a perfect resource to help children understand what summer solstice is all about.
This book blends science and tradition perfectly to make a fun read for children.
Winter Solstice Books for Kids
This is a stunning book about winter solstice that every child keen on learning about these astronomical events must have.
The book is born out of a solstice poem and weaves a thread of human connection with the natural world.
This book honours the winter solstice with twelve traditional tales from around the world. If your family and kids enjoy fables, this one is just the pick. Also this is a great book to introduce human diversity.
This is a mindful story of a young girl, Iliana, and her quest to find the sun. A heart-warming story of finding the light within, this book is much more than just another book about solstice. Highly recommend!
This is a different book that is non-conformist and liberal. It is about a girl whose family does not celebrate Christmas and how she finds a reason to celebrate the holidays without offending her family’s beliefs.
A great story that embraces different ideology, this book is quite a read. Suited for older kids – 6years and above.
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