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Summer solstice

The summer solstice, the start of astronomical summer, is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere in late June. It is often referred to as ‘the longest day’; its date changes each year but it usually falls around June 20 to June 22.

The summer solstice is thought to have been celebrated as long ago as the Stone Age. Cultures across the world continue the tradition today with feasts, bonfires, picnics and songs.

In Northern Europe, summer solstice is often referred to as Midsummer. Wiccans and other neopagan groups call it Litha, while Christian churches recognise it as St. John’s Day, to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist.

Ancient Northern and Central European pagans would welcome the summer solstice with a bonfire, believing it would boost the sun’s energy for the rest of the growing season and guarantee a good harvest.

Interesting facts about summer solstice:

  • According to some Ancient Greek calendars, the summer solstice marked the start of the new year and began the countdown to the Olympic Games.
  • In Egypt, on the day of the summer solstice - when viewed from the Sphinx - the sun sets squarely between the Great Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.
  • Every June, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Activities for children with vision impairment

Celebrate the summer solstice by getting creative and crafty with these activities!

Sunshine glitter sensory bottle

This is a fun but messy activity! You might want to wear old clothes, use utensils you no longer need or even do the activity outside.

What you will need

  • Clear plastic bottle with lid
  • Glitter glue – any colour
  • Yellow food colouring
  • Measuring jug
  • Whisk


  • Wash the bottle and remove any labels, making sure no sticky stuff remains.
  • Pour 1/2 a cup (120ml) of boiling water into the jug. You might want to do this for your child, or supervise them closely as they pour.
  • Add 60ml of glitter glue into the jug with the hot water. Mix gently with a whisk. Top Tip: add extra pieces of craft glitter at this stage to increase the sparkly effect.
  • Let the water cool before pouring the mixture into your sensory bottle. You may need to use your fingers to get all the glitter out of the jug.
  • Add drops of food colouring into the bottle until it is the shade of yellow you want - a little goes a long way!
  • Tightly attach the top before giving the bottle a good shake to mix everything together. Add more of the glitter or food colouring and top up the water if needed.
  • Ensure the bottle top is firmly fastened – you might even want to glue it on.

Think about ways to adapt this activity to your child’s needs. Include as many sensory features as possible - for example, add glittery beads which rattle when it is shaken.

Help your child to pour and measure. Use tactile markers, funnels or any method that encourages your child to do it on their own.

Be one with nature

Make the most of the longer days by enjoying a walk in your local park or further afield. Why not take a picnic, filled with your favourite treats, and celebrate the solstice?

Remember to prepare for the weather: take sun cream, sunglasses and a baseball cap, particularly if your child is sensitive to light.

While you’re outdoors, ask your child:

  • What can you smell?
  • Try walking on the grass in bare feet – what do you feel?
  • What different flavours can you taste? Top tip: Make it a game by introducing new sweet or savoury treats as part of the picnic.
  • What can you hear? Is there running water nearby? Can you pick out the sounds of birds or footsteps?

Guide your child (if needed) around the different outdoor spaces. If you stop for a picnic, use a blanket so they know that is their safe place. Encourage them to explore and enjoy the fresh air. Find a wooded area, or somewhere with a tree which will cast a shadow for you to pause under. Ask your child to pick out the changing sounds when they move from open to covered spaces.

Take a ball or kite and encourage your child to enjoy the freedom to run safely, surrounded by nature, during the longest days of summer.

For more ideas about outdoor play, download our free Messy and Muddy guide.

Bake lemon thumbprint cookies

These tasty, easy-bake cookies are meant to resemble the bright yellow sun.

Baking can be a great sensory activity: let your child explore the ingredients by comparing the tastes and smells and using their hands to feel the different textures.

What you will need:

  • Lemon curd
  • 429g all-purpose flour
  • 227g salted butter
  • 115g granulated sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon

How to make lemon cookies:

  1. Pre heat your oven to 180 or Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it looks light and fluffy. Do this by hand or with an electric mixer.
  3. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla, then add the flour to the bowl and mix together until it forms a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into around 20 equally sized balls. Spread them out on the baking tray, leaving space between each one.
  5. Use your thumb (or a teaspoon) to gently press into the ball to make a small dip in the centre.
  6. Bake until they are lightly golden brown (around 14 – 16 minutes).
  7. Move to a wire rack to cool. Top tip: you may need to press down the dip again – do this while they are still soft, but use a teaspoon if they are hot!
  8. When cool, spoon lemon curd into the dips then enjoy as part of a summer solstice picnic.

Baking can be a great sensory activity: let your child explore the ingredients by comparing the tastes and smells and using their hands to feel the different textures.