This month I am working on a variety of activities related to the official changing of the season from fall to winter, the Winter Solstice, which happens this year on December 21 (for my region and on December 22 for other locations around the world). This began with the Nature Book List, offering reading suggestions related to the season of winter and the solstice.
As we approach the winter solstice, the hours of daylight get shorter, until we reach that date, the darkest day of the year. Following the solstice, light returns and the number of daylight hours gradually increases until the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
A fun integrated math and science activity would be for students to track the hours of daylight as we approach the solstice and after we pass the solstice. Students can keep a Winter Solstice Journal, where they record sunrise and sunset for their location and calculate the hours of daylight and darkness for each day. In this journal children could also record observations about the weather, the height of the sun in the sky, animal activity, and any other special occurrences in nature in the days surrounding the solstice.
Information about sunrise and sunset can be found at Weather Underground. Just enter your zip code, and in the weather forecast you will be given the sunrise and sunset times. If you want more information, to see the bigger change of daylight hours over time, Weather Underground also has archived data for sunrise and sunset that can be found under their historical weather section. On that page, enter the zip code for your location and submit (today’s date will automatically be filled in – that is okay). On the weather history page that appears, click the custom tab, and enter the range of dates you would like the weather information for.