The Summer Solstice

A Legendary Day

The summer solstice is part of an ancient tradition that marks the longest day of the year, with approximately 12 hours of sunlight, around June 20, 21, 22. The date changes because of the earth’s tilted axis. This year the summer solstice will be June 20th. In the Northern hemisphere we enjoy the heat of the sun since the end of April, meteorologically, the summer solstice can be thought of as the middle of summer and is referred to often as Midsummer.

Watch Reasons for Seasons to learn more about Earth’s rotation & SciShow Kids on The Summer Solstice 

This period of time has been studied globally by mankind for centuries. To many cultures across the continents, the summer solstice was celebrated with religious celebrations and festivals with different meanings. In ancient times, no matter what one person believed, most people agreed that the summer solstice marked an important day of the year.

Ancient Egypt and ancient Greece celebrated New Years on the summer solstice. To the Vikings midsummer meant mediation. They used the summer solstice as a time to come together to settle disputes and set new rules.

 In ancient China, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate the yin, the femenine force, qualities of being nourishing, spontaneous, and unitizing. While yang, the masculine force, focuses on individualization, yin focuses on relationship. On hot summer days, it’s important to find ways to slow down to maintain balance.

Today the solstice has less significance compared to other holidays, and is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten Festival”. But it has not been completely forgotten and we can still view it as a time to check in and reflect. One of the largest known celebrations of the summer solstice takes place each year at Stonehenge. Many mysteries surround Stonehenge, but we have discovered in the ruins that it was used as a part of an ancient civilization celestial calendar system. Hundreds of people each year still make the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, as our ancestors have for centuries, to watch the dawning of the summer solstice sun.


Summer Solstice Sun Catchers

Materials

  • Glass panel or recycle plastic sheeting or clear contact paper
  • Elmer’s Washable No-Run School Glue & Black acrylic paint
  • Elmer’s Washable Clear School Glue or Mod Podge
  • Black Marker
  • Acrylic paint or Sharpies or Tissue paper
  • Paint Brush
  • Craft Blade
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Start with “Glass”
    • You can recycle plastic sheeting, use clear contact paper or remove glass from a picture frame and place over your pattern.
    • Draw your own pattern or print off a coloring page of a sun to celebrate the summer solstice.
  2. Make black glue for the “leading” look of stained glass.
    • Add about 1 tsp of black acrylic paint to the Elmer’s school  glue and mix with a skewer in the glue bottle.
    • Place cap back on the glue.
    • Use the glue bottle to add black “leading” following the lines of your pattern.
    • Allow to dry overnight.
  3. Clean Up
    • With permission/guidance of a guardian use a craft blade to neaten up any lines.
  4. Add Color
    • Choose 1 of the multiple ways to add color: Acrylic paint with glue, tissue paper, Sharpies or food coloring. Overlap colors to make new ones!
    • GLUE- Mix your colors one at a time. Mix about 3 tablespoons of clear glue to a few drops of acrylic paint. Heavily add the paint being sure to go all the way to the “leading”.
    • TISSUE PAPER- cut up paper and paint on a layer of glue or Mod Podge
    • SHARPIES- Color inside the “leading” lines.
    • FOOD COLORING- McCormick- Window Clings
  5. Dry
    • Allow the project to dry for several hours. Perhaps in the sun!
  6. Touch ups
    • Use your black marker to touch up the leading where the paint has overlapped. 
  7. Cut it out!
    • Use scissors to cut out your summer solstice sun catcher!

Show off the power and beauty of the sun with a “Stained Glass” sun catcher.

Watch the tutorial videos to see how to make your sun catcher!

Then follow the 7 step directions below.


1. Tutorial video shows steps 1 & 2  
The videos are time-lapses of how to create your very own sun catcher. Starting with plastic sheeting from a pastry tray as the “glass” surface. Then, find a coloring page of a sun you like or draw your own.  Next, trace the coloring page outline with the make black glue for the “leading” look of stained glass. Allow to dry overnight!
2. Tutorial video shows step 3
With permission/guidance of a guardian use a craft blade to neaten up any lines.
3. Tutorial video shows steps 4 & 5  
Mix your colors one at a time. Mix about 3 tablespoons of Mod Podge to a few drops of acrylic paint. Heavily add the paint being sure to go all the way to the “leading”.
4. Tutorial video shows steps 6 & 7  
Touch up the “leading” lines with a black sharpie.  Then cut out your sun catcher!
We want to see your shining sun! Post photos or videos using hashtag #SUAGkids for a chance to be featured!

Cyanotype photography

John Herschel in 1842 invented the cyanotype process, also known as the blueprint process. He was an astronomer, trying to find a way of copying his notes.

The paper was coated with iron salts and then used in contact printing, using direct sunlight for multiple minutes. The paper was then washed in water and resulted in a white image on a deep blue background.

Anna Atkins was one of the first people to put the cyanotype process to use. She was a botanist and the cyanotype process allowed her to document her botanical findings at their natural scale. They were also called “shadowgraphs”. The silhouettes are created by placing objects on the treated paper and depending on the parts covering, different levels of transparency.

In October 1843 Atkins became the first person to produce and photographically illustrated a book using cyanotypes. Making her a pioneering figure in photographic history for having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations.  

Click the link below to learn more about Anna Atkins and the Cyanotype process.

Anna Atkins, Cyanotype photography


Yoga – Sun Salutations!

Materials: Yoga mat

Directions: Follow along and learn the steps

Read: Hello Sun! A Yoga Sun Salutation Start to Your Day by Sarah Jane Hinder

Watch:Sun Salutations, Yoga for kids!

Sun Salutation Illustrated

Step-by-Step Instructions

Astronomically, the diameter of the sun is about 108 times that of the diameter of Earth. In yoga culture the number 108 is considered a sacred number. There are also 108 beads in a mala, and they can be used to chant mantras as part of a meditation practice. A Mala is a necklace for prayer, similar to a rosary from Catholicism. To help inspire discipline, devotion, and focus yogis can perform 108 sun salutations as ritual practice. The summer solstice marks a perfect time to reflect on the first half of the year, and set new intentions or recommit to existing ones, like your New Year’s resolutions, for the last 6 months of the year.


Sunlight Spotlight On Claudia Goldsmith

Claudia Goldsmith is a local Maryland artist who’s inspiration comes from the natural world. While she enjoys painting, drawing ceramics, her most well-known and recognized medium is nature itself. Collection sticks, rocks, flower petals, and other found objects in nature, she then composes a piece of art—leaving it behind for others to enjoy. Creating art from nature itself, is her way of inviting people to see that beauty can be found everywhere, without needing anything but yourself, and that through nature we can find ourselves too. The process of creating outdoors has been a healing process for her, and has also brightened the days of those who stumble upon it. Her main hope through her art is to show people that happiness can be found in the simplest of things.


Nature Walk Mandala- Creation Meditation

1. On a sunny day head out on a nature walk. Take some time to gather some natural objects like flowers, leaves, or pinecones. Really anything special that catches your eye. Only take what’s abundant and only take a little!

2. Your canvas for the mandala can be a patch of grass in your backyard or a park.

3. Place one natural object you found in the middle, then add in a circular pattern around the center. Go around and around adding larger circles around the center until you have a completed mandala.

4. Take your time as you place your objects. Reflect on natural beauty able to be grown because of the sun as you lay each piece down.

5. When you have completed your mandala, take a photo of it and then leave it for others to find and enjoy. If you share online use hashtag #SUAGkids for a chance to be featured!