I love to use the seasons as a way to connect with nature and deepen our bond with the Earth. The changing of the seasons (solstices and equinoxes) are a perfect opportunity to slow down and notice the changes that are happening around us. It also a time to be grateful for all Mother Nature provides.
Summer solstice marks the beginning of summer. It occurs when one of Earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt toward the sun, and we have the longest amount of time between sunrise and sunset. It happens twice a year, once in each hemisphere. Here’s a nice explanation from a meteorologist:
And here’s an explanation for the kids:
Simple ideas for learning about and celebrating summer solstice with children:
- Go outside and sit and observe. Just one minute of sitting in silence and using your senses to notice. Ask children what they see, smell, hear, feel, and taste. Make a list or web of ideas.
- Ask children questions such as: What happens as we enter the summer season? (more daylight, it’s warmer, flowers are blooming, bugs are abundant… What is there more of? Less of? How do we know spring is over?
- Doing this helps children to: observe, develop critical thinking skills, organize thoughts on paper, practice handwriting, build conversation skills…
- Go for a walk to find and collect samples from nature. Talk about what you are finding and comment on textures, colors, smells, and sensations. Children are building their vocabulary by listening to the words you use! As you are exploring invite children to gather whatever they find interesting: Leaves, rocks, feathers, butterfly and insect wings, bones, mosses, seashells, bugs and beetles, seed pods and the list goes on and on.
- Make a nature mandala with your collection. The word mandala is taken from the Sanskrit word for circle. We chose to represent the four seasons and four directions in our mandala, so we started with four fern leaves pointing north, south, east, and west.
- Other topics for discussion or writing prompts: What are you thankful for this summer? Is there anything that is bothering you or you are upset about? What can we do this season to make that better?
- Share your own thoughts on these questions as well. Children will surprise you with their incredible minds. The more you ask them questions like this the more comfortable they become with thinking creatively, an important skill for the future!
- Add to your nature journals!
How do you incorporate nature into your family or classroom activities? I’d love to hear from you!