Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: Winter, Solstice, Season

Time : 30-40 mins

Author: Lynda Boudreault


Greeting and ReviewBegin class in the usual way.While outside, ask students to make observations about they see in nature (what animals they see, temperature, trees, leaves).
Main LessonTell students that December 21st (or the appropriate day for that year) is the first day of winter. Tell them it is the shortest day of the year.
Activity 1 Read The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer (On Youtube at
Activity 2Clementine (or orange) Earth rotation snack
Materials: clementines, mandarins or oranges for each students, bamboo skewers, flashlight
Activity 3Make a sun catcher. Materials Needed: mason jar lid (outer ring only), vellum paper (or printed coloring sheets), crafting glue, twine or yarn.
CleanupAllow 5-8 mins for cleanup.Allow sun catchers to dry and return to students during next class or arrange for them to take them home.
Goodbye2-3 minutes to say goodbye
External References  

After reading The Shortest Day as a class, you may want to break up class into smaller groups and rotate through activities. You can also choose to do any of the recommended activities listed below. There are several multi-culturally inspired ways to celebrate the winter solstice.

ACTIVITY 1: Read The Shortest Day

Read The Shortest Day (copy available in green house or see reference below), stopping throughout story to ask questions. Alternatively, show the reading of the story on YouTube.

ACTIVITY 2 : Orange snack

  • Distribute a skewer to each student (for younger students, you may want to clip off sharp points before class). (The orange is a symbol of the return of the sun.)
  • Have students insert the skewer up through the central core of the orange, so that it looks like the earth with the skewer sticking out on the top and the bottom like the Earth’s poles.
  • Explain to the students that this is the Earth and the point out the north and south poles.
  • Tilt the Earth a little and tell students that the Earth is actually on a small tilt (27.3 degrees).
  • Light the flashlight and shine it on the face of your tilted orange. Explain to students, that when the Earth revolves around the sun, the tilt does not change and demonstrate the Earth spinning around the sun (use the diagram as a model.)
    • The take away for younger students is that the Earth’s access is tilted.
    • Older students will be able to visualize the relation of the tilt to the sun based on the diagrams from the story and worksheet.
  • .Have students remove their skewers and allow them to peel and enjoy their snacks while you dispose of skewers.

ACTIVITY 3 : Make sun catcher

  • Prepare for class by cutting vellum paper into circles using the mason lid as a guide. The circles should fit snuggly into lid with space to glue around the top edge of lid. Use coloring sheets of nature scenes, animals, flowers, or mandalas. Alternatively, have students create and color their own designs or pictures.
  • In class, have students draw or color the circular coloring sheets.
  • Once drawings are complete, apply glue around the inner edge of the lid top and press drawings into lid. 
  • Wrap twin or yarn around outer ring lid and secure with a knot, leaving enough length to create loop to hang the sun catcher.



  • Allot 5-8 mins for any cleanup – put away supplies, tools, clean dishes, wipe down tables etc.
  • Allot 2-3 minutes to say goodbye. Try ending class in the same space each class,  if you can. Depart with an informal goodbye of your choice, a song, a poem, a high five as they walk out the door, etc.



Share This