winter activities

Longest Night Stargazing for Kids – May Help Fear of the Dark

What to do on the shortest day of the year? Night starts in the afternoon so there’s plenty of time for this activity: longest night stargazing for kids. It’s something to anticipate all day long, but no worries because the day part seems so short.

stargazing for kids

When it’s dark enough, dress for the weather and go outside to check out the stars. The clear, cold nights seem to make them shine brighter. So often, something we do as a child can make a life-long impression and memory. Pat McCarthy, the director of the Giant Magellan Telescope says, “I remember as a kid with my small telescope – going out in December and looking at all the beautiful things in the winter sky….It’s a lot of fun and I hope other people do it as well. It’s a nice thing to do over the holidays.” (How To Stargaze on the Winter Solstice) While very few kids will have telescopes, it’s still exciting to see all the stars twinkling in the sky.

Back inside, a cup of hot chocolate warms up cold fingers and toes. There could be plenty time before bed to read a story about stars too. Astronaut Chris Hadfield tells about being a young child with a fear of the dark in his new book, The Darkest Dark. Although the story in the book happens in the summertime, being afraid to sleep or stay in their own beds happens for many children at any time in the year. In the book, Chris is impressed by the darkness of space and calls it the darkest dark. That night, instead of seeing scary things in the dark, he sees “the power and the mystery and the velvety black beauty of the dark” and wants to explore the night sky.

stargazing for kids

Spending part of the longest night stargazing for kids may help your child enjoy the dark instead of being afraid. Kids can also sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Don’t we all wonder about the stars?



Paper Makes A Snowflake

How often have you made paper snowflakes? The magic of making snowflakes out of ordinary paper never gets old, for kids or grownups.

To make a paper snowflake, very light tissue paper works best for little hands. Start with a square and fold it in half and then half again. If the paper is thin enough, it can be folded once more and kids can still cut. Today, Little Sister got to discover how this works. She wasn’t very interested in cutting out pieces, just making a few cuts along the edges. Because the paper was so thin, some bits came out from that and Big Sister helped to cut out a few more pieces. Little Sister was surprised when the paper was unfolded to see a snowflake and promptly declared “Beautiful.” She floated the snowflake around the room and then tucked it under a blanket on the sofa for a nap.

Somewhere there must be a metaphor for how it’s the holes in the paper that transforms it into a work of art. Nothing is added, it’s only taken away. The magic comes from the empty spaces.

However it works, cutting a paper snowflake is a winter activity that can be done by kids of various ages. Scissors are a particularly tricky learning tool to handle and need lots of practice. Cutting play dough is very much easier than cutting even thin paper, but fortunately,  there are no lines to follow with snowflakes. As long as the cuts do not go all the way through to the other side, the paper will stay in one piece.

Real snowflakes are white, but kids can cut any color of paper. If you use paper than it is a little thicker, kids can decorate it with crayons, markers, or paint. A few dabs of glitter glue will make for sparkles that dance in the sun. Careful though–can paper snowflakes turn into real snow?

Forset Trail, by: Adam McFadyen

10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children: #1-Outside

The  more fun a resolution, the easier it is to keep and what could be more fun for kids than 15 minutes of adventure? A cool place for an adventure is outside, especially at this time of the year! I just discovered the book, Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House … Continue reading 10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children: #1-Outside