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Family Activities: Reflections on Light (Quick Tip)

Family Activities: Reflections on Light

By Kate Poweska, Family Programs Intern


Paper Lantern

Paper Lantern. From ancient to contemporary times, cultures around the world have celebrated the winter solstice in different ways. Traditions revolving around feasting, candles and bonfires, fir trees, and togetherness focus on the anticipation of the rising sun and the days getting longer after the winter solstice. Make your own lantern to celebrate the beginning of a new season and the rebirth of the cycle. For this activity you will need: scrapbooking paper, scissors, glue, and a stapler. 

  • Take the paper and cut a strip off one end, set aside
  • Fold the paper lengthwise
  • Cut strips ¾ of the way starting at the creased edge
  • Open and staple both sides together
  • Staple the cut strip on either side of the lantern
  • Insert a battery operated tea light and watch it glow


Recycled Bottle Lantern
Recycled Bottle Lantern. For this activity you will need: a clear plastic soda bottle, scissors, or a knife, tissue paper, glue or adhesive spray, a stapler, and a wire or string for hanging. 

  • With an adult’s help, take the wrapping off the bottle and cut the top off
  • Glue on tissue paper strips or shapes
  • Staple the wire or string to either side of the lantern
  • For the finishing touch, insert a battery operated tea light

Sun and earth model
Sun and Earth Model. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the time when the North Pole is the furthest away from the Sun. The winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. So, if it is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, then it is the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Create your own solstice by making a model. For this activity you will need: paper, coloring supplies, and two brass fasteners. 

  • Cut out two circles: one big and one small
  • Cut out a thick strip
  • Color the big circle as the Sun, the small circle as the Earth, and the strip as the stars
  • Draw the continent where you live on the Earth
  • Draw a line horizontally that represents the equator
  • Draw a line vertically that represents the poles
  • Connect the strip between the Earth and the Sun with the brass fasteners
  • Tilt the Earth’s North Pole away from the Sun at an angle to create the winter solstice
  • Tilt the Earth’s North Pole towards the Sun to create the summer solstice



The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper. Long ago on the shortest day of the year, people would prepare for a long night ahead by lighting candles and building fires. People wondered when the sun would rise again so they played music and sung songs to ease their anxiety. Enjoy this fun and beautifully illustrated book at the Wake County library.


A Solstice Tree for Jenny by Karen Shragg. Jenny, the daughter of two free-thinking scientists feels left out when her parents, unlike the neighbors, do not observe any winter holidays. After discovering winter solstice traditions from her teacher, Jenny decides she wants to celebrate it too. Check out this video to find inspiration to create traditional decorations for your tree. 


On the Shortest Day by Laura Sulentich Fredrickson. In late December, a family explores the snowy terrain where animals live, hunt, play. Though the wind is chilly and all seems quiet, there are many secrets to be discovered. Read along with the author during storytime.