Summer Solstice Activity Calendar & A Camping Christmas

In the lead up to Summer Solstice and Christmas I continued our new tradition of celebrating Litha with a Solstice calendar and activity string. Last year I made a separate calendar and string which held activities written on scrolls, but this year I decided to combine the two into one. I was also a bit more organized than the year before and started our calendar on the first day of summer, the calendar ending on  the day of the solstice, the 21st. 7th December 2015 118 7th December 2015 117 Each day we started our celebration by lighting a candle and saying this verse by Ch. Morgenstern

I am the sun and I bear with my might,

the earth by day, the earth by night.

I hold her fast and my gifts I bestow,

to everything on her so that it may grow.

Man and stone, flower and bee,

all receive their light from me.

Open thy heart, dear child to me,

so that we together one light may be.

Then the children alternately opened the day of the calendar for each day of summer. Inside each sun was an activity for us to share and a little, corresponding hand drawn picture.

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Our activities for the 21 days of summer were:

Week 1.

1. Make a recycled globe (I got  this idea from Celebrating our Great Mother. The original idea is a Salvaged Globe made from rubbish but I decided we’d make it our of recycling instead. We talked about how we are helping to prevent waste by recycling, what it would be like if no-one recycled and other ways we can reduce waste).

2. Rock hopping at the river

3. Make Solstice cards (to send to grandparents with lots of sparkle and shine! We talked about how this is a time of giving and how at this time of the year when we receive so much from mother earth it is important to give as well).

4. Make lemonade ice blocks

5. Make dried orange sun decorations (a simple but effective activity and one we’d never tried before).

6. Full moon crystal charging (this was a big favourite!)

7. Picnic at Judbury park (our closest park but one we’d never picnicked at before!)

Week 2.

8. Make Sun God’s eyes

9. Bake cookies (hey, they’re round like the sun right?)

10. Play a board game together

11. Give a gift for the ABC tree (again this activity was all about the importance of giving).

12. Make dragonfly peg tree decorations (I was inspired by this activity but we pegged our dragonflies on our tree).

13. Put up our Solstice/Christmas tree and decorate

14. Yoga – Sun Salute (honouring our bright burning sun with our bodies)

Week 3.

15. Walk to the river and collect rubbish (we talked out the importance of honouring mother earth and how as well as appreciating her gifts we need to care for her too).

16. Make sun poi’s (a very fun activity, I found some simple instructions here).

17. Make banana smoothies

18. Plant a no-dig potato patch

19. Paint a huge Father sun together

20. Make a time capsule to look back on next year

21. Solstice picnic at the beach! (We also gave each of the children a new sleeping bag for our Christmas camping trip).

After opening the calendar for each day I read a summer or sun related story, including picture books I borrowed from the library, mythological stories, and fairy tales, and we put out our candle.

After the solstice we got ready for our little Christmas escape to the Bay of Fires, east coast Tasmania.

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We stayed at the beautiful Dora Point campground

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The children were very eager to head straight down to the beach after a day spent in the car

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Beach antics 🙂

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Laska loved playing in the shallows but has forgotten how to swim again! It’s just a bit too scary.

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Deep conversation on the rocks surrounding our campsite.

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Each evening the crabs came out to eat, Anusha faced her crab fears,

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braving all the little claws.

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Our little camp Christmas tree,

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Christmas camp lunch,

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and enjoying new gifts.

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There was exploration and treasures found (‘jellies’ were a favourite).

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New tastes were explored too.

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We went for a walk and found new beaches,

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sought the shade when it got too hot,

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And made the most of the quiet.

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By the end of the week we were all ready to return to our little home, we just had to convince Laska to get in the car 🙂

 

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Summer Solstice Celebrations!

We had a very special and beautifully warm Summer Solstice this year, sharing it with each other and my parents who are here for the festive season.

In the lead up to the celebration of Father Sun’s longest day I shared some activities, songs, stories, and poems with the children, and prepared for our little fire festival.

Last year I began buying the seasonal books called Summer, Winter, Autumn, and Spring by Wynstone Press, and have used the Summer book a great deal in preparation for the Solstice and in celebrating this season with the children. I am teaching myself recorder, and the songs in these books are not too difficult (even for me), and there are lots of lovely poems and stories to share the spirit of Summer with children. We have been singing songs, reading poems, and telling tales from this book in the lead up to Solstice.

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I find lots of inspiration in the book Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill, and I chose two songs from this to practice with the children in preparation for singing on the Solstice. It was a lot of fun practising these together each morning, and one of them included a harmony (we have not tried singing songs with harmonies before) which Elki sung beautifully!

This year I made a variation of the advent calendar and string that I have shared with the children in previous years, and instead made a Solstice calendar and string for the two weeks prior to Solstice.

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I got ideas for making the calender from the books All Year Round, and Festivals, Family and Food, and behind each window I made a picture that symbolised Summer using tissue paper. I decided not to have gifts in our Solstice string elf boots, and instead each held a secret message that either had written on it an activity we would do together as a family, something for the children to do for someone else, or something for them to do that inspired them to think about the gifts of Summer. Each morning we would light a candle, share songs and poems, the children would open a window on the calendar and collect a secret message, and then we finished with a story.

As we have a living tree for Winter Solstice we made something diffrent this year to celebrate Summer Solstice and Christmas. We gathered some bendy Dogwood saplings and branches and created a woven tree. We firstly made several wreaths and intersected these with twigs,

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constructed the tree by attatching the circular wreaths to four upright poles, and decorated it with all our Solstice and Christmas decorations! To me the circular wreaths, with the outward pointing cross pieces that centred our tree, symbolised the sun and his outward shining rays.

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Our Solstice day began with the children opening the last window on the calendar (Father Sun of course!), and collecting the last secret message,

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then preparations began for our Summery feast!

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I helped Anusha to make a radiant Sunflower crown out of a paper plate and watercolour paper,

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Then we enjoyed the feast of Mother Earth and Father Sun’s abundance, including fresh salads, lentil pate, homebaked focaccia, and local berries and cherries for our main meal,

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and for dessert apple and rhubarb crumble, cherry crumble, and cookies I made with the children called Citrus Glitters ( which I renamed Sun cookies).

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And what would a fire festival be without a fire! As the evening drew on Anusha and I made representations of Lugh the Sun god out of twigs and raffia, then burnt them on the fire thanking Lugh for his warmth and light, and sending him on his way into the night.

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Then as the sun set on the longest day we sat around the fire, sang songs, and enjoyed the dying light.

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How do you like to celebrate the Summer Solstice?