The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (and winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) takes place on June 21. Also known as the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, the summer solstice is an opportunity to incorporate a little learning about the Earth, the Sun and our natural world.
Summer Solstice the Montessori Way: Classroom Curriculum ActivitiesIn the Northern Hemisphere, we receive more light in the summer because the North Pole is pointed toward the Sun. At this time the Northern Hemisphere receives the most exposure to the sun. This year, June 21 is the day that the North Pole is pointed closest to the Sun and therefore is the summer solstice (for the Southern Hemisphere the opposite is true and this day is the Winter Solstice). This is the day of the year when the Northern Hemisphere has the most daylight hours and the Sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer. Also, in summer the sun rises earlier, sets later and appears higher in the sky above the horizon. The North Pole changes its tilt as the Earth orbits. When the North Pole becomes farthest from the Earth, it is winter for the Northern Hemisphere.
Historically, summer is a time of growth. It is a time for planting and harvesting, animals giving birth and raising their young, and growing. Weddings often take place. For many, it may be a slower time for work.
Summer Solstice Montessori Curriculum Activity Ideas
- Have a circle time that focuses on the summer solstice, using natural items, diagrams, photos, music, and poetry to illustrate what it is and how it historically has been celebrated.
- Demonstrate the summer solstice with a globe or ball and a flashlight and/or human bodies and a lamp.
- Make a list of all the things the sun does for us on Earth. Ask your Montessori students what would happen if we didn’t have the sun.
- Plan a family or class outing to observe sunrise and/or sunset on June 21. You could pack a small picnic, and create and play a trivia game about the Summer Solstice Don’t forget to take photographs to remember the occasion.
- Have a summer feast of foods entirely in season, fresh, and local.
- Play “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Explain that the music represents the season of summer, and ask the students to listen quietly. Play the piece again, this time asking the students to close their eyes and let their imaginations follow the music. Invite the students to share their thoughts, visions, or feelings about the music, and to write a poem, a story, or draw a picture from this.
- It’s not too late to plant some fruits and vegetables for harvesting later. Use gardening and harvesting to bridge a discussion about the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.
- Find songs like “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and teach your students/children the lyrics. Let loose and have fun singing at different volumes. Also try an interpretative dance to the song. Windham Hill Collection has multiple summer solstice music collections available on CD.
- The Summer Solstice, by Ellen Jackson and Jan Davey Ellis
- Under Alaska's Midnight Sun, by Deb Vanasse and Jeremiah Trammell
- Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children, by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw
- In Nature's Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth, by Patricia Montley
- Scholastic - The Summer Solstice
- National Geographic – Xpeditions
- Astronomical explanation of the summer solstice
- Astronomical Applications Department
- Family Education - Summer
- Summer Solstice for Kids