The first day of spring (also known as the Spring Equinox) will be here soon! March 20, 2021, to be exact. Do you typically celebrate the first day of spring? It is one of those special days that is not quite a holiday but seems like it needs some recognition. As the marker of a new season, it provides a great opportunity to learn about the natural world with your kids.
Plus, isn’t it adorable when little kids use big words like Equinox?
Let’s review what it’s all about and share some simple ideas about how to celebrate the Spring Equinox with your kids this year.
To understand the significance of the Spring Equinox, it is important to explain how the seasons work in kid friendly terms.
- The Earth goes in a big circle or orbits around the sun. It takes one year for the Earth to make a complete circle around the sun. That’s like a birthday for the Earth!
- As the Earth makes its big orbit around the sun, it is also spinning around. It takes 24 hours to spin all the way around, which is one day. In those 24 hours, when our part of the Earth faces the sun, it is morning. When we face away from the sun, it is night.
- As the Earth orbits the sun, it is tilted on a slight angle. This tilt causes areas to receive different amounts of sunlight and creates the four different seasons.
- The Earth is made up of two halves. The top half is called the Northern Hemisphere. That’s where we live! The bottom half is called the South Hemisphere. The equator is an imaginary line that separates the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
- Because the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are on opposite sides of the Earth, they receive different amounts of sunlight throughout the year and have reversed seasons. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere is cold and snowy!
Yoga Learning Activity
To help your child understand how the tilt of the Earth affects seasons, try this simple yoga exercise using mountain pose and crescent moon pose.
- Choose an object to represent the sun, like a lamp or the actual sun if you can see it.
- Put your arms over your head and lean to the side toward the sun in crescent moon pose. This is like summer, when the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun and creates warmer weather.
- Now stand up tall leaving your arms over your head in mountain pose. This is like fall, when the sunlight hits the earth more equally and results in milder weather.
- Keeping your arms up, lean your body in crescent moon pose in the other direction away from the sun. This is like winter, when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun and results in colder weather.
- Finally, stand tall and return to mountain pose. This is like spring, when the sunlight once again hits the earth more equally and provides milder weather.
The start of each of the four seasons is designated by these special astronomical dates:
- Spring/Vernal Equinox – March
- Summer Solstice – June
- Fall/Autumnal Equinox – September
- Winter Solstice – December
What is the Spring Equinox?
The word Equinox is Latin for “equal night.” On the day of the Spring Equinox, the tilt of the Earth lines up with the sun’s rays at the equator and sunlight hits the planet mostly equally. This means everywhere on Earth experiences roughly the same amount of daylight and darkness, about 12 hours each.
This phenomenon occurs only twice a year during the Spring Equinox and the Fall Equinox.
From this day forward, the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt more toward the sun, resulting in increasing daylight and stronger rays. Hooray for more sunlight! (But don’t forget the sunscreen.) The Northern Hemisphere will continue to gain more sunlight each day until it reaches the Summer Solstice in June, which is the longest day (or day with the most sunlight) of the year.
In ancient times, people were very connected to the sun and its patterns. Before we had digital clocks and smart phones, ancient civilizations charted changes in the sky as a way of telling time and creating calendars. They even built impressive structures that aligned with astronomical phenomenons like the Spring Equinox.
One example is a huge pyramid built by the Mayan civilization at Chichen Itza in Mexico. The sunlight on Spring Equinox makes it look like a snake is slithering down the pyramid.
Ideas to Celebrate Spring Equinox
Even today, the changing seasons can influence our daily lives. As dormant plants begin to bloom and animals come out of hibernation, the season of spring embodies the concepts of rebirth and renewal. Here are some simple ways to mark the occasion of the beginning of spring with your family.
Watch the sunrise.
With daylights saving time scheduled the week before the Spring Equinox for clocks to move forward an hour, chances are you and your kids will be awake at sunrise. Take a few minutes to watch the beauty of the sunrise and feel thankful for the warmth the sun provides and all the other blessings in your life.
Try something new.
Spring is about turning a new leaf and trying something new. Maybe order takeout from a local restaurant you’ve been meaning to check out, pick up an exotic fruit from the grocery store or explore a new hiking trail. Spring Equinox is the perfect time to add a new experience to your day.
Let go of something you don’t need.
In the spirit of new life, there may be some items you own that could use a new life of their own. Go through your clothes, books and household items to see what you can let go of and give to someone else. Have your kids go through their toys and books as well. See if you can fill a whole box to donate.
Make cute spring themed snacks.
This is one time it is okay to play with your food! Making cute spring themed snacks, like this beautiful pineapple sun, is a fun way to celebrate the beginning of spring. See lots more fun and healthy snack options here – Healthy Easter Snacks For Kids.
Pick up fresh flowers or a new plant.
Nothing says spring like blooming flowers or foliage. Treat yourself to a pretty bouquet or a new houseplant. Besides bringing some new color to your home, houseplants can have several health benefits like improving air quality and reducing stress.
Plan a summer garden.
With the sun shining more, now is a fantastic time to start thinking about a summer garden. Gardening with kids is a great way to learn where our food comes from and practice responsibility for taking care of plants. If you have never gardened before, start small with a container garden. If you grow a garden each year, start dreaming with your kids about what you want to plant – some old favorites or some new treasures?
Read spring children’s books.
There are children’s books for every occasion and spring is no exception. Look through the books you own to see which ones take place in spring or pick up one of these great spring children’s books from your local library or independent bookstore.
- Bear’s Springtime Book of Hidden Things
- Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations
- Spring Stinks
- De Colores/In All Colors
- Sometimes Rain
- Worm Weather
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How do you plan to celebrate the Spring Equinox this year? Share below!