Winter is just right around the corner. The Earth and the Sun play a major role together creating one of my favorite seasons. December 22nd, known as Winter Solstice, is the day the northern hemisphere gets less direct sunlight than the southern hemisphere as a result of the Earth’s axis being tilted with respect to the sun. This creates winter and shorter days for us in the northern hemisphere. Lets’ celebrate winter by bringing out our holiday ingredients for our warm baked goods and gathering the family for some festivities!
What comes to mind when you hear the words, ‘Tis the Season? For some of us, it may mean festive songs or carolers; to others it’s a time to get warm and cozy, and for some animals it’s a sign of winter and a time for hibernation. Here at the California Academy of Sciences, it’s ‘Tis the Season for Science! Come join us for some fun, wintery activities for the whole family now thru January 16th!
Sleigh on over to the Season of Science!
- Where does snow come from? How is it formed? Check out our Snowman Theatre to discover the science of snow!
- Did someone say reindeer? Bring out those antlers and head on over to our East Garden to meet our reindeer and learn about their fascinating adaptations. Yes, both male and female reindeer have antlers!
- Speaking of baked goods, come smell the tasty aromas of those holiday ingredients we love to use by visiting our life-size sculptural spice forest.
- Visit the Early Explorers Cove and their Family Nature Craft to learn more about reindeer and create your very own reindeer hat and much more!
- Then head on over to the Naturalist Center for their winter-themed hands on activities and Science Story Adventures.
Bring Winter Home
Do you smell what I smell?
Guess that Spice is a fun at-home activity you and your family can enjoy together by exploring more about those ingredients you enjoy putting in your favorite pies or cookies.
Brrr it’s cold out here
What do you do when you’re cold? Do you sit around the fireplace? When we are cold, we can easily grab some blankets, cozy up and drink some hot cocoa. For some animals, this is a time where food supply is scarce and hard to locate. It is a time to hibernate, or rest for months, by conserving energy and storing the fat from all summer long. You can explain to your child how they are conserving their energy when they are resting by measuring their pulse. Then follow up with another pulse measurement after they’ve been playing and compare their numbers. This can help them better understand why some animals hibernate.
Winter Solstice calls for shorter days and longer nights. Have your children draw what they see outside in their yard or neighborhood at 6 pm. You can then have them make another drawing of the same location and at the same time during our summer solstice next year, which is the longest day of the year. Have them observe what they drew differently or the same. Once they’ve shared their picture of their Winter Solstice you might want to take a moment together and learn more about this day by reading The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Snowflakes are mind-boggling! Would you like to make your own, one of a kind snowflake? Check out these sustainable snowflakes made out of newspaper! Not only are they easy to make, but you can decorate them around your home too! Then as a family, think of other ways you can reuse your newspaper this season. You might also want to check out The little book of snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht, which contains beautiful detailed photographs.