Lively Lessons: Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere each year on December 21st. This marks the point in Earth’s orbit of maximum tilt away from the sun.


This week’s Lively Lessons allows students to explore the Winter Solstice through a variety of activities.

2015-12-18_11-58-09Daily Weather

After students view the video segment “The Seasons” from Weather Start: Weather and Seasons (K–2; also available in French & Spanish versions) or “Seasons” from The Language of Science: Earth/Space Science 3–5: Weather (3–5) on Discovery Education Streaming ask them the following questions:  How can you describe the weather in each season? What is the relationship between the sun and Earth that causes seasonal changes? How would you describe this season?
Have students discuss the answers as a class. Next, instruct students to color and then cut out icons for the sun, rain, snow, and different cloud shapes and colors. You can also create a word wall  to describe the temperature or weather such as wet, dry, hot, cold, warm, cool, windy, rain, and snow. Make a calendar graph with the day of the week and month that is large enough to paste the icons on. Assign a different student to make the daily weather observation and paste the appropriate icon on the board. At the end of the week or month discuss if the weather was the same or not on different days and what might have made it change.

2015-12-18_11-51-05Seasonal Snowball Fight

Explain to students that they will be watching video segments. Have each student take out a blank sheet of paper. Instruct students to record one fact they learn from each of the video segments on the sheet of paper during the viewing. Play the “Summer,” “Fall,” “Winter,” and “Spring” video segments from Weather Things: Seasons and Weather Cycles on Discovery Education Streaming for students. After recording facts, have each student crumple up his or her paper into a ball and, on the count of three, throw the “snowball” up into the air. Have each student pick up a snowball, open it, and read the fact. Students then are responsible for adding a statement to the piece of paper—it could be a supporting detail to the original statement or a new statement related to what they have learned. Repeat this process several times until students have had several opportunities to read and record facts.

2015-12-18_11-51-34The Reason for the Season

After students view the video segment “Causes of the Seasons” from The Seasons on Discovery Education Streaming, ask them the following questions: In your own words, what is a season? How would you describe the weather in each season? What is the relationship between the sun and Earth that causes seasonal changes? About how long is each season?
In what order do the seasons occur? Does this order ever change?
Have students discuss the answers as a class. Next, have small groups of students use Board Builder to create an infographic entitled “The Reason for the Season.” The infographic should incorporate images, vocabulary terms, diagrams, and any other features that help students explain what causes Earth’s seasons and how those seasons look different in different parts of the world. After students complete their infographics, host a viewing party. Invite groups to present their work and use the presentation time as a chance to review unit concepts and vocabulary.

Create a Solstice or Winter Celebration– Encourage your students to create a new holiday that might incorporate aspects of their own celebrations. Share your celebration and see celebrations from other classrooms in the #CelebratewithDE activity.


Be sure to visit these additional resources from Discovery Education!

Spotlight on Strategies Holiday Twist: Winter Solstice


Seasonal Change Content Collection for additional lesson starters & resources


Blog Header image Sunrise on the winter solstice 2010, looking over Cavan Upper toward Bohanboy/Killygordon © Copyright Sian Lindsey source


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