As children at our school come from families celebrating different winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year) we wanted to make sure our forest school’s celebration was inclusive for all. And so we chose to celebrate Winter Solstice as nature’s milestone where we reach the shortest day and longest night. The day that truly marks the beginning of winter.
All of our school festivals always include some beautiful seasonal crafts, family games and a short movie at the end. But we wanted our Winter Solstice celebration to be the most special, full of winter magic and beauty. And so we brought Grandpa Frost into our celebration — the magical character who creates the winter itself and also brings gifts to children 🙂 . Scroll down and enjoy our photo gallery from this memorable day. We are very grateful to our wonderful Tuesday and Thursday teacher and a talented photographer Adrianna Carlson for capturing all these beautiful moments from our celebration of winter and childhood.
Winter Crafts Fair
We started the festival with a little winter crafts fair making glittery pine cones to hang on trees, beautiful snowy lanterns, paper snow flakes and snowmen. Some crafts the parents enjoyed even more than the children 🙂 … but we believe it all contributes to everyone having a very special experience marking this time of year.
Glittery pine cones
Frosty the Snowman
Beautiful snowy lanterns
Once everyone had made a snowy lantern and few other crafts of their choice, the children were invited to listen to a very special Winter Solstice story written by our own Tuesday and Thursday teacher — Adrianna Carlson. In this charming story, Mama Mouse leads all her animal friends to a beautiful tree decorated with all sorts of treats and beautiful things on Winter Solstice night. The story is a reminder to always treat others with kindness and respect no matter one’s own hardships. And as Mama Mouse is going through the forest gathering her friends she holds a little lantern, since it is after all the darkest night of the year.
Following this lovely wintery story, all children got to take their newly made snowy lanterns and walk outside as it was getting dark to see what magical things we might discover in the forest on this special day. And as they were getting dressed we made sure that we had lights and music and a special guest from the forest all ready for them outside 🙂
Meeting Grandpa Frost
Grandpa Frost is a traditional winter character in Eastern European countries, as well as some Northern Asian native cultures. He lives deep in the forest, helps animals and is the one who creates the winter itself. He also brings children gifts for Christmas or New Year (depending on the country’s traditions). We considered having Santa Claus visit the school at first, but again, as not all of the children come from families celebrating Christmas, we decided to introduce our own special winter character and attribute to him some additional qualities in line with us being a Forest School. 🙂
Upon his arrival from the forest into the middle of the school’s yard Grandpa Frost told children a little story of how he met some animals on this cold dark night and they are in need of a good home. He asked the children if they could care for these animals throughout the winter. And then gifted the school as a whole a group of adorable stuffed animal friends for all the children to care for. Grandpa Frost also gave the school a most charming tea set as he knew how much the children love making cookies. And of course the new animal friends would very much enjoy having a little tea party with the school’s children. 🙂
Last but not least, Grandpa Frost told the children that he heard about what good care they have been taking of the forest throughout the year by picking up trash and learning about animals. And so each child got a special gift from Grandpa Frost — a box with some delicious tangerines and chocolates to enjoy. 🙂
Ending the Night with a Movie
Ending our festivals with a short animated film has become a tradition. In the summer we even projected the movie on a screen right outside under the stars. 🙂 Of course in the winter though, we returned to our cozy school cabin to enjoy watching Stick Man — a short and endearing film about little Stick Man and his travails as he is trying to find his way back home in time for Christmas.
All in all, it was a lovely way for children and families to spend time together and make special memories that hopefully will last them a lifetime.