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Celebrate Dad and Summer Solstice

Age: 0 to 8+
Time: 1 hour+
Materials: various art materials, objects from nature

Wondering how to celebrate the special dads in your child’s life this Father’s Day? This year, give dad the gift of nature! Giving grown-ups the chance to play and spend time in nature with kids is a super way to gift all of the health and wellness benefits of time outdoors, spark joy, and create playful family memories together.

This year, the Summer Solstice falls just one day after Father’s Day. The Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer and the moment when the sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky, giving us the most amount of daylight. What could be better than making this day a celebration of two of the brightest sources of light and warmth in your child’s life- dad and the sun!

The Guide

Here are some fun ways kids can celebrate both Summer Solstice and the special dads in their lives this Father’s Day:

  • Solstice picnic: Celebrate dad and the sunlight by dining al fresco with a family picnic. Hike to dad’s favorite outdoor spot and pack his favorite foods. Kids can help plan and pack the picnic and pick wildflowers to make the spot feel extra special for dad.
  • Father’s Day hike: Head out on a family hike. As you walk, hunt for nature treasures* that are dad’s favorite color or shape. Listen and look for birds together. Take a moment to slow down and get low to the ground. What tiny creatures can you observe together?
  • Make shapes of joy together: Spirals are shapes that often feature in Solstice celebrations (a symbol of the circle of life and cycles of the earth). Collect objects from nature with dad and then work together to make a mandala or spiral with flowers, sticks, rocks and other nature treasures. Check out our Shapes of Joy DIY Activity for more inspiration.
  • Make dad a nature crown: Help dad feel like the king of the forest by making him a nature crown. Apply double-sided tape along the center of a strip of heavyweight paper. Then kids can collect and stick leaves, flowers and other nature treasures to dad’s crown. Read more about this activity here.
  • Make a solstice suncatcher: Attach contact paper or clear masking tape to the inside of a frame (a picture frame or the inside of a mason jar lid works well). Then, work with dad to attach colorful objects from nature to the sticky side. Find a sunny spot to hang or display your suncatcher and marvel at the light and colors with dad. Read more about this activity here.
  • Shadow play: Turn an exploration of light and shadows into a game with dad. Ask kids, “Can your shadow__?” Or “I wonder if our shadows can__." Then, start trying! Feel free to grab sticks, branches, leaves and other natural props to help make your shadow transform too. Check out our What Can Shadows Do? DIY activity for more inspiration.
  • Make a Fire: Fires are often a part of Solstice celebrations and a great way to spend time outdoors in the summer. If you have a fire pit, kids can help collect kindling and help build a fire with dad—a great way for kids to learn about fire safety and develop some camping skills. To make the celebration extra special, roast marshmallows together! If a real fire won't work well in your outdoor space, build a pretend fire with sticks. You can even make your own pretend campfire feast or roasted marshmallows using sticks, mud and nature treasures.

*nature treasures (noun):

Any object from nature that looks, smells, feels and sounds captivating to kids (acorns, pebbles, pine cones, sticks, etc.)!

Why is this activity great for kids?

Celebratory moments like Father’s Day or Summer Solstice are a brilliant and joyful way to teach your children more about what you value. And when you incorporate nature and outdoor play into celebrations you’re letting your family know that the natural world, and connecting with it, is important—so important it is associated with the things and people you cherish most. Solstice celebrations are full of the stuff that sparks joy—light, colors, circles and spirals, nature treasures—this timeless human tradition that can provide a real joyful boost today, especially when kids can do it with special family members.

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