Wild Wonders: Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Ice Lanterns


  • Paper bowl, bucket or plastic container 
  • Paper cup or small jar or small plastic container that fits inside your larger bowl.
  • Rocks, pine sprigs, berries, pinecones, etc.
  • Bird seed (a little food for our feathered friends!)
  • Tea light candle (and adult helper)
  • Water 

Before You Explore:

Have you ever heard of the “solstice”? What is the Winter Solstice?

The Winter Solstice falls on December 21st, 2020 and is the shortest day of the year. On this day the sun will rise at 7:10am and set at 4:06pm in our area – giving us only 9 hours of daylight and 15 hours of darkness. After the Winter Solstice, days slowly begin to get longer, bringing more light and less darkness. That is why we celebrate the Winter Solstice – looking forward to the return of light and warmth.

Take a look at the Winter Solstice with Nature Cat: https://youtu.be/DGrosW14M-E

Additional ideas for celebrating the Winter Solstice: https://bit.ly/38e4Gvd

Connect with Nature:

  • Head outside and collect objects from nature (pine sprigs, red berries, pinecones, acorns)
  • Fill your bowl halfway with about 2 inches of water – add a few of your nature finds and bird seed, then put in the freezer or outside if it’s cold enough to freeze.
  • Once frozen, put your cup on top of the frozen water – in the middle of the bowl. Add a few rocks to the cup to keep it from floating in the next step.
  • Next, fill the bowl to the top with water – add more of your sprigs and seeds to the water.
  • Place the bowl back in the freezer or outside.
  • Once frozen, pour warm water into the cup, until it releases from the ice. Run warm water over the outside of the bowl, to help it release from the ice inside.
  • Now you have a beautiful Ice Lantern! Place your tea light candle in the hole created by the cup and after the sun sets, light your candle with an adult helper. Remember to store your lantern in the freezer or outdoors (if the temperature is below freezing)!
  • After you’ve used your lantern for your solstice celebration leave it outside to melt – revealing the bird seed for our feathered friends to enjoy this winter.

Dive Deeper!

Learn more about solstice traditions around the world with a Read Aloud of “The Shortest Day” by Wendy Pfeffer https://bit.ly/38iPyNa

Frozen Bubbles


  • Bubble Solution
  • A REALLY cold winter day

Before You Explore:

Can bubbles freeze?

Check out this amazing video to see bubbles freezing in slow motion: https://bit.ly/3nvOOe8

Connect with Nature:

  • Wait for the perfect winter weather (12 degrees Fahrenheit or below and no wind). Take your bubble solution outside.
  • For best results, leave your bubble solution outside to cool for 10 minutes before blowing bubbles.
  • Blow bubbles into the air – what happens?
  • Blow bubbles onto the top of the snow or on an icy surface – does anything different happen?
  • Can you blow a bubble on top of another frozen bubble? How many can you stack?
  • How long does it take the bubble to pop?

Dive Deeper!

Challenge yourself to make your own freezing bubble solution using the recipe below.

Predict: Will this solution produce better frozen bubbles? What will be different?


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup Dawn dish soap
  • ½ cup light corn syrup

Bring your solution outside and use a straw to blow into the mixture, or a bubble wand to create your bubbles. Experiment with the solution. Which solution makes the best crystals? Does this solution freeze differently?