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What is the Winter Solstice?

Solstice | All About the Holidays

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year! Why do we celebrate the solstice? This “All About the Holidays” explains.

Posted by PBS Teachers on Thursday, December 19, 2019

As the earth revolves around the sun, our daylight hours get longer or shorter depending on its orientation. Here in the North Country, we’re in the Northern Hemisphere, which means Monday, December 21 is our Winter Solstice — the shortest day of the year. That also means after the solstice, the days only get longer from here on out!

Below are some fun videos, resources, and activities to help teach your children about the Winter Solstice and how we can celebrate winter.


Learn

Dinosaurs in the Snow

Grades PreK-1
In this episode of Dinosaur Train, the Pteranodon family visits the North Pole. They learn how snow is formed, that the North Pole is dark during the winter because the Earth is tilting away from the sun, and that creatures living there adapted to the climate with features such as feathers.

Weird Winter Phenomena | Spot on Science

Grades 3-8
A very cold winter brings wondrous icy objects! Did you know everyday bubbles can become hard ice bubbles? And, that Lake Michigan’s waves can roll ice balls? If that isn’t cool enough, learn how rivers and smaller lakes can produce spiraling ice circles when warm weather brings a thaw.

Why Seasons Make No Sense | It’s Okay to Be Smart

Grades 9-12
Day by day, country by country, we tend to measure seasons differently. This video explains why we divide the years into seasons here in the Northern Hemisphere, how it lines up with the weather, and where the practice has its roots.


Make & Explore

Winter Wonderland Terrarium

All Ages
Celebrate the Winter Solstice by making your very own winter wonderland terrarium! What kinds of things would belong in a winter wonderland terrarium? Hunt for objects outside or around the house that would fit this season. With just a few simple crafting supplies and some creativity, you can get started!

12 Children’s Books About Our Magnificent Moon

Grades PreK-5
Throughout history, the moon has inspired myths and legends, cultural and family traditions, movies, art, architecture, books, and poetry. Check out this list of books for a fascinating look at the magnificence of the Earth’s moon!

Stargazing and Other Astronomy Activities

Grades PreK-5
Space is a fascinating and sometimes confusing topic for kids. With the shortest day of the year comes a great opportunity to do some stargazing and start exploring the cosmos! Take your child’s curiosity further with a few simple ways to learn about the wonders of astronomy together.

What Color is the Moon? | It’s Okay to Be Smart

Grades 6-12
Check out this mind bending video from It’s Okay to Be Smart all about how the color of the moon might not be what we think it is. After learning about how our brains process color and brightness, we bet the next time you look up at the moon you won’t see it in the same light!

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