This year the winter solstice will occur on Sunday, December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST. This marks the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. It is also the longest night of the year. Because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the north receives less direct light on this day as the sun shines directly on the Tropic of Capricorn. On this day, the sun appears at its lowest in the sky. The sun’s position at noontime appears to remain the same for several days before and after the solstice. The origin of the word “solstice” means sun (sol) stoppage (-stitium). The days begin to grow longer and the nights begin to grow shorter after the winter solstice.
We have put together a list of Winter Solstice activities and reading materials for your Montessori classroom for you to enjoy.
Winter Solstice Activities for Your Montessori Classroom
- Students may find it interesting to learn that the earliest sunset of the year in their area may not fall on the winter solstice. Latitude determines the date of the earliest sunset. Check http://www.idialstars.com/eass.htm for the date in your area. You can also find information on solar noon.
- Have a circle time that focuses on the winter solstice, using natural items, diagrams, photos, music, and poetry to illustrate what it is and how it historically has been celebrated.
- Begin a Festival of Light or other winter solstice tradition at your Montessori school.
- Demonstrate the winter solstice with a globe or ball and a flashlight and/or human bodies and a lamp.
- Have a winter feast of foods entirely in season, fresh, and local. If you did this for the summer solstice, have your students compare the difference in foods. How does the sun affect what we do and eat?
- Play a winter themed piece of classical music in your Montessori classroom. 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. If you did a similar activity for the summer solstice, allow your students to compare and contrast the music and how it made them feel.
- The Winter Solstice, by Ellen Jackson
- The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice, by Wendy Pfeffer
- A Solstice Tree for Jenny, by Karen Shragg
- The Winter Book, by Rotraut Susanne Berner
- We Gather Together, by Wendy Pfeffer
- Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations around the World, by Heather Conrad
- A Winter Solstice Celebration, by Didi LeMay
- Winter Moon, by Jean Craighead George
Summer Solstice the Montessori Way. NAMC's Lower Elementary Matter & Astronomy manual offers activities on The Life Cycle of the Stars, The Solar System, Earth and the Sun, and much more! See sample here.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 11, 2009.