Welcome Summer Solstice.

Sit back and enjoy this simple explanation of why we have summer by Shiela Fuller.  Then be sure to check out the link to 101 great summer activities for kids, as well as a link to our National Parks and the wonders found in these national treasures.  Here’s Shiela:

Ah, sweet summer. We long for the hazy days of summer when we can go outside to play in bare feet, read what we want, and eat ice cream all day. Well, maybe not all day. Summer is one of the four seasons that we experience here on earth, but do we know why?

This year at precisely 6:51 AM, eastern daylight time (EDT), on June 21, summer will begin in the northern hemisphere. Our earth is divided into imaginary long lines that run from top to bottom, longitudinal lines, and lines that run side-to-side, called latitudinal lines. The latitude line that divides the earth from top to bottom is called the equator. If you live in a place above the equator, you live in the northern hemisphere and if you live below the equator, you are in the southern hemisphere.

Our planet also has an imaginary line that runs straight through the center from top to bottom. It’s called its axis. The axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees and it is because of this tilt that we have four seasons. From June through September, the earth is tilted toward the sun and that is why the northern hemisphere has summer. The opposite side of the planet is farthest from the sun and brings winter to the southern hemisphere.

Solstices-and-Equinoxes-The-seasons-are-about-to-changeThe earth spins around the axis and is hit with different amounts of direct sun depending on the date on the calendar On June 21, the earth appears to have stopped in the sky giving those in the northern hemisphere , the largest amount of daylight hours in the whole year. This is the day of summer solstice. Solstice comes from the Latin word, Solstitium: “sol” meaning sun and “stitium” meaning stop. Although it is the longest day of the year, it is not necessarily the warmest. That won’t happen until late July when the land and sea warm up as it absorbs the increased daily sunshine.

It’s summer! Take precautions from sunburn and mosquito bites and get outside for some fun adventures.
Follow these links to find some warm weather activities:

101 fun Things to Do from Parenting Magazine
http://www.parenting.com/article/fun-things-to-do-summer
Read the Wikipedia page to find out about National Parks. You’ll find all 59 listed here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_parks_of_the_United_States

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

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Wreath Pin…and Other Easy Gifts to Make.

If you’re looking for some simple, last-minute gifts you and your children can make for friends and loved ones, here are some websites with a wealth of ideas. 

GIFTS TO MAKE:
18 Easy Christmas Crafts, Ornaments and Gifts from http://www.parenting.com
15 Homemade Christmas Gifts That Kids Can Make from http://www.ParentMap.com
Christmas Gifts for Children to Make from DLTK
Christmas DIY Gifts for Kids to Make from The Heart Felt Home on Pinterest
Holiday Gifts Kids Can Make from http://www.Parents.com
100 Homemade Gift Ideas from http://www.About.com

You might also like to try this WREATH PIN.  All you need to make it is lace strips from 8-12 inches long ( be sure the lace has some holes in it to thread the pipe-cleaner through), a six inch piece of pipe cleaner, tacky glue, red or green ribbon for a bow, safety pin.     wreath 1

1. Begin by threading the pipe cleaner through the holes in the lace as shown in the photo on the  left.  Continue until all the lace is threaded.  wreath 2

2. Wrap the ends of the pipe cleaner together to form a circle and tightly wind the ends so they don’t catch on the lace.  Spread out the lace to form the wreath.   You may have to tug a bit to get it to look uniform.  Use a drop of glue to bind the edges together.    wreath 3

3.  Use a piece of red or green ribbon to make a small bow and glue it to the front of the wreath as shown.  When dry, you will need to stitch a safety pin on the back to make sure it stays.  OR…you can turn it into a magnet by gluing a piece of magnetic strip instead.     wreath 4(See the photo on the right).

Happy Gifting!