Celebrating the Coming of Summer

Celebrating the Coming of Summer

Celebrating the Coming of Summer

It’s officially summer! The summer solstice (which falls on June 20 this year) marks the start of the summer season here in the northern hemisphere. That means long days, short nights, and rising temperatures. It also means a lot of “but the sun is out!” arguments from the kiddos to convince us they should wake up early and stay up late. But what exactly is the summer solstice, and why does it signify the start of a new season? Read on to find out!

What is the Summer Solstice?

On the summer solstice (also called midsummer in some cultures), one of the earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt (23.44 degrees) towards the sun. It marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Countries and territories north of the Arctic Circle (such as Alaska) witness this phenomenon to the extreme with what is called the “midnight sun” in which the sun is visible for a full 24 hours.

Various countries have been celebrating the summer solstice for centuries, associating it with everything from the start of the new year in ancient Greece to the feminine “yin” force in ancient China. Monuments such as Stonehenge are thought to have been constructed in alignment with the sun’s position on the summer solstice.

While we consider this day the start of summer in the United States, other cultures consider it closer to the middle of summer. Either way, the solstice is a day worth celebrating! Read on for activity, craft, and book recommendations to help your family celebrate the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.

Activities to Welcome the Coming of Summer

Summer Camping!

Summer is the most popular season to go camping, and it’s easy to see why. Most kids are on a school break, the days are longer, the weather is warmer, and it generally doesn’t require a lot of extra gear to stay warm. However, if you live in an area like mine, summer camping can be a scorching adventure. We generally choose a spot with a water source if possible (such as a beach, lake, or river) so we can retreat to the water to cool off. Check out our post on Keeping Your Family Cool on Warm-Weather Adventures for tips on what to wear and what to bring when camping in the summer.

A young girl walking near a campsite on the beach in summer

Photo Credit: Courtney Scruggs

Sunrise/Sunset Hike

Head out before dawn to greet the sun for an early-morning sunrise hike on the longest day of the year. Are early mornings not your thing? Try a sunset hike instead and stay to watch the starlit sky come to life on the shortest night of the year.

Nature Yoga

Give thanks for the blessings provided by the sun by leading your family through a few rounds of sun salutations. You can add in a few poses depicting some of those blessings, such as tree pose, flower pose, or seed pose (child’s pose). Check out more nature-themed yoga poses in this blog post from We Are Outgrown.

Spend Time With the Plants

Life on Earth couldn’t survive or thrive without the sun. Plants use sunlight to synthesize their food from carbon dioxide and water. Some animals feast on these plants and then become a food source for other animals. It’s a cycle that can’t exist without sunlight. We can show gratitude for sunlight by spending time in a garden or farm to give thanks for the bounty that is made possible by the sun.

Create a Summer Nature Table

I mention creating and updating a nature table in each of my seasonal posts. That’s because my boys love collecting finds and updating our table each season! Your nature “table” can be as small as a bowl with a few items or as large as a table with numerous summer finds and projects displayed. From postcards from a vacation and seashells collected at the beach to summer crafts and potted flowers, any items that remind your family of summer will work. Looking to stick closer to the Leave No Trace Principles? Simply stick with crafts and photos from your adventures rather than nature finds.

Summer Themed Crafts

Sun-Themed Nature Mandala

A nature mandala is a repeating pattern focused around a central object or symbol. They are a popular activity around seasonal changes since they symbolize the patterns and cycles found in nature. Simply choose a central item and create a pattern radiating outwards from the center. My boys created the sun-themed mandala below to celebrate the summer solstice on the beach.

A nature mandala on the beach made from seashells, rocks, and a leaf
Sunny Suncatcher

Take advantage of the long, sunny days by creating a sun catcher to brighten up any room. Here is an easy craft with a printable to create your own sun-shaped suncatcher. No contact paper? We ran ours through a laminator to cut out the fuss (and frustration) of using contact paper.

Flower Crowns

Flowers can’t grow without sunshine, so celebrate the season with a bright and sunny flower crown. Here is an easy tutorial for a dandelion crown using no extra materials. Looking for an option little ones can create mostly themselves? Here’s an option from Little Pine Learners using cardboard. If your area is a little lacking in flowers or you want to stick closer to the Leave No Trace Principles, here is a tutorial that uses fake flowers to create a gorgeous summer crown.

Create a Lemonade Stand

Nothing says summer quite like a lemonade stand on a hot day! It also helps kids learn a bit about marketing, finance, and business in a fun (and delicious) way. You can make it your own by adding fun flavor options, making flyers to hang around the neighborhood, or including treats such as lemon bars or cookies. Check out this article on how to create your own lemonade stand this year.

Books to Celebrate the Coming of Summer

Are your kiddos in love with books? Check out these beautifully illustrated books to help children of all ages understand what happens as spring turns to summer starting with the longest day of the year.

Children's books about summer and the summer solstice

The Longest Day – Celebrating the Summer Solstice By: Wendy Pfeffer 

Pfeffer does a wonderful job of explaining the history and science behind the summer solstice in a kid-friendly way that anyone can understand. She dives into summer celebrations from various cultures around the world and describes the science behind summer phenomena such as the growth of butterflies and the longer day length.

Summer Days and Nights By: Wong Herbert Ye 

This book embodies the joy of the long, slow days of summer. It follows a little girl as she finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool on a hot summer day, from catching butterflies to searching for frogs. The author focuses on appreciating the small yet special details that define the summer season.

Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun By: Deb Vanasse 

What would your day be like if the sun didn’t set? Find out in this beautifully illustrated book, which is told through the eyes of an Alaskan girl as she enjoys the “midnight sun” of her region. She dances, watches wildlife, and stays up late with the sun that won’t set for over two months.

And then Comes Summer By: Tom Brenner

Looking for a book to get your family excited for the coming of summer? This delightful, lyrical book describes the sights, smells, sounds, and favored outdoor activities of the warmest season of the year. Accompanied by cheerful illustrations depicting the joys of summer, this book is sure to get you ready for the adventures this summer has in store.

The Solstice Badger By: Robin McFadden 

This is a great book for both the summer and winter solstice. It tells the story of the sun learning that compromise, friendship, compassion, and wisdom are needed to co-exist with others. It is filled with wonderful life lessons in a beautifully illustrated book that both kids and adults will love.

How does your family welcome the coming of summer? Send us a message and let us know!


The author with her husband and two young sons in Mt. Rainier National Park

Rebecca is a transplant Coloradoan living in Virginia with her husband (Derek) and their two boys. She’s a teacher turned freelance writer/ homeschool mom working towards exploring as much of the east coast as possible before the next move takes her family elsewhere. You can follow her family hiking, kayaking, SUPing, geocaching, camping, and all things outdoor adventuring on Instagram @frazzlednaturemom .