Celebrating the Winter Solstice & Diversity at The International Preschools NYC

The Winter Solstice celebrations at The International Preschools have long been a tradition to welcome and honor the longest night of the year and the diverse holidays celebrated by our families.  Each location hosts an all-school Sing-Along, followed by individual classroom potlucks. December holidays celebrated around the world are feasts and festivals of light; our students explore the concepts of “light” and “dark” to delve into these themes via play-based learning.

Light table exploration using magnet tiles was a popular activity.
Light table exploration using magnet tiles was a popular activity.

To begin the solstice unit, many classrooms hold whole-group discussions to identify sources of light and why light is important.  At 76th Street, a Pre-K class was posed the question, “Why do we need light?”  Answers included, “To see the world!” and “To find my way home!”  Books that were read in the classrooms to help introduce this topic included All About Light by Lisa Trutkoff Trumbauer and Light is All Around Us by Wendy Pfeffer.  After identifying a variety of light sources including candles, light bulbs, and the sun, the classes went to work on examining these objects in greater depth.  Many classrooms employed the use of light tables; children enjoyed placing magnet tiles and other objects onto the table to maneuver the lights.  Art projects across all three locations involved the solar system; students created suns, constellations, and moons at the art table.

A child played with "night sky" play dough. The play dough provided a great tactile experience; the dark background allowed the small jewels to stand out, much like stars do in the night sky.
A child played with “night sky” play dough. The play dough provided a great tactile experience; the dark background allowed the small jewels to stand out, much like stars do in the night sky.

The Red Room at 86th Street created star and moon prints using paint and cookie cutters!   Some classrooms chose to create “daytime” and “nighttime” murals, using blue paper for the daytime sky and black paper for the nighttime sky.

Discovery Centers in many classrooms provided battery-operated tea lights, flashlights, candles, and other objects for exploration.  During the Winter Solstice Sing-Along, children used individual flashlights while singing certain songs (with the lights turned off) to recreate stars or light in the nighttime sky.

Throughout the Winter Solstice unit, many parents and relatives visited the classrooms to teach children about the “celebrations of light” that their families observe.  Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Dong Zhi and St. Lucia were some of the many holidays that were commemorated.

On behalf of everyone at The International Preschools, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a joyful new year.  Come back in early January for our next blog post!

To purchase any of the books related to light, and support IPS at the same time, click here.

To learn more about The International Preschools’ admissions process, click here.

The International Preschools is celebrating #WinterSolstice on Social Media every day through December 21st. Find out fun facts about celebrations around the world. 

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