The summer solstice, also known as Litha or Midsummer, marks the longest day of the year and the official start of summer. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the sun’s energy and embrace the beauty of nature in your homeschool. I have put together some ideas that we have done at home as we lead up to celebrating the summer solstice with our kids. So here you go a mini Summer Solstice Unit Study for home educators.
These activities can be spread out over a week or longer, depending on the depth and pace of your homeschooling. Adjust the content and activities to suit the grade levels and interests of your children. Remember to include time for discussions, reflection, and hands-on experiences throughout.
What is the Summer Solstice
Before we start to do some activities it’s worth learning a bit more about the summer solstice and why it happens.
The summer solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer in June in the Northern Hemisphere. It takes place when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, resulting in the sun reaching its highest point in the sky. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs simultaneously, marking the shortest day of the year.
Why not follow on from the Summer Solstice with a unit study into the Earth in Space?
But why does it occur and what happens?
Earth’s Tilt and Its Effect
The Earth isn’t vertical in space, it’s tilted at an angle of approximately 23.5 degrees. This tilt is the reason that we experience different seasons throughout the year. During the June Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted towards the sun. This means that it will receive the most amount of direct sunlight, and experience much longer daylight hours.
Length of Daylight
On the day of the solstice, the daylight is at its maximum, at the North Pole this means 24 hours of daylight. As you travel to the equator the closer to an equal day and night it becomes which is why countries nearer the equator don’t experience the same variation in seasons as further north.
On the longest day of the year, the sun will also reach the highest point in the sky that it does for the whole year. It will rise and set at its most northerly points on the horizon which means that the day is long and the night is much shorter.
Use a globe that is titled and add a map pin to where you are from. Place the globe in your arms and walk around a stationary sun. Rotate the earth for day and night and make sure that you hold the globe so that the angle is there. You can then see when there are different seasons at your time of the year.
More Science Activity Ideas around the Sun
- Explore shadows with your kids at different times throughout the day using sunlight
- Create a sundial to tell the time
- See how much energy the sun produces by heating water in direct and indirect sunlight and see the difference in the temperature
- Make a solar oven
With such a focus on science and social studies for this topic, you would be amazed at the language arts that you can incorporate into the unit study. Check out these ideas below.
Reading and Comprehension
We love reading in our house and the summer solstice provides a great opportunity to read and discuss more about the celebrations around the world. Below you will find a few books we recommend to read together as you learn about this important astronomical event.
The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice
“The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice” by Wendy Pfefferis a simple picture book provides a simple and engaging introduction to the summer solstice, explaining its significance and how it is celebrated around the world.
The Summer Solstice
Unfortunately not currently available to purchase, but do keep an eye out for it to come back into paperback print. “The Summer Solstice” by Ellen Jackson, follow a young girl named Ellen as she learns about the summer solstice through a family camping trip. It explores the science, cultural traditions, and the natural world related to the solstice.
The Solstice Badger
“The Solstice Badger” by Robin McFadden is a heartwarming tale that weaves together themes of friendship, self-discovery, and the power of nature. It introduces young readers to the concept of the summer solstice and instils a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Through Barney’s whimsical adventure, children will be inspired to embrace their own uniqueness and celebrate the magic that surrounds them.
Why not head over to Rainy Day Mum (our activities site for kids) and view our complete Summer Solstice Book Recommendations for Kids?
Of course, we can’t forget that this is an ideal opportunity to delve into some Shakespeare and read, watch and be enlightened by the fantastic Midsummer’s Night Dream.
Why not use the summer solstice as a starting point for some creative writing inspiration? We’ve included a few prompts below that your kids may like to use to start off their imagination or you could let them free write to their heart’s content.
Summer Solstice Creative Writing Prompts for Kids
- Write a poem about the longest day of the year. Use descriptive language to capture the essence of the summer solstice and its significance.
- Invent a mythical creature that comes to life only during the summer solstice. Describe its appearance, powers, and the magical world it inhabits. Write a story featuring this creature’s summer solstice adventure.
- Reflect on the summer solstice and how it makes you feel. Write a journal entry expressing your thoughts, dreams, and hopes for the rest of the summer season.
- Describe your perfect summer solstice celebration. What activities would you do? Who would you spend the day with? Paint a vivid picture with your words.
- Close your eyes and imagine you are at Stonehenge during the summer solstice. Write a descriptive paragraph that captures the atmosphere, the energy, and the ancient traditions surrounding this historic site.
The Summer Solstice provides a great opportunity to explore social studies with your kids, incorporating history, culture and geography. Take some time to look at the significance of the celebration for different people in time and place around the world.
Historical and Cultural Significance
The solstice has held cultural and historical significance over the years. Monuments like Stone Henge in the United Kingdom and Chichen Itza in Mexico are aligned to the solstice and it played an important role in celebrations there.
Social Studies Activity
Research some ancient monuments and sites like Chichen Itza or Stonehenge which are known for their importance with the summer solstice. Then contrast them with modern-day celebrations and festivals.
The Summer Solstice Celebrations are interesting to map, after researching the modern-day celebrations and festivals your children should have more of an idea about where these take place.
Explore the regions and countries where summer solstice celebrations are prominent then identify and mark these locations on a world map. You can subscribe to Rainy Day Homeschooling and get our Continents Pack for free which would be ideal to use for this activity.
Arts and Crafts
I love to incorporate art into our unit studies any way that we can and the summer solstice provides so many opportunities to incorporate art.
Crafts and Art Ideas
Create artwork that reflects the summer solstice theme, such as sun paintings, suncatchers, or nature-inspired art with vibrant summer colours. Experiment with different art techniques and mediums.
Music plays an important role in many of the festivities around the world today when celebrating the summer solstice. It’s a great opportunity to look at folk music together as well as explore how some composers created music for Midsummer’s Night Dream.
Why not look at this Music for Midsummer’s Eve as a starting point to enjoy listening to pieces together with your kids?
The summer solstice provides a great opportunity to discuss concepts of time in maths and explore these in more detail.
Create a sundial to tell the time if you haven’t already, look at time zones and calculate when the dawn will be in different countries compared to your own. Measure time using different apparatus, can you accurately count 10 seconds, 30, 1 minute or more?
This is the perfect unit study to incorporate some cooking and culinary arts. Get seasonal and eat fruits, vegetables that are in abundance at this time of the year.
There are so many ideas of what you could cook together, I found this Summer Solstice Food Recipe article great. The Solstice Herb Bread was delicious and easy to make.