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solstice lanterns


Today marks the longest day of the year.  Since the weather is nice, we get to celebrate! I know so many Scandinavian’s that celebrate Midsummer, I get a wee bit jealous. I do so wish we had something of that around here. In the mean time, we’ve been starting our own summer solstice traditions. This year I decided to make these lanterns to teach the kids some of the constellations we see in the night sky.

This is a simple project that takes only minutes to make but it’s spread out over a day or more.  Gather the supplies:

- Empty cans

- Water

-  Freezer space for cans filled with water

-  Permanent marker or grease pen

- Nail

- Hammer

- Constellation maps (find online or from books)

I’ve found that all roads lead to picking out the constellations before you do anything else. In the first place, the constellation shape will, in some way, determine the shape and size of the can you need. I also suggest marking the stars on the can with the marker/pen before you freeze it. It’s really hard to mark with anything on something that is frozen. I learned that the hard way.

So go choose your constellations. I chose Bootes and Virgo, because both are visible overhead and should be easy to find if we ever have a clear night. Mark the stars on your clean and empty can. Let the ink dry completely before moving on to the next step.

In order to punch holes in the can without the can collapsing, you need to make it stable enough to work with. The easiest way to do this is to fill the can with water and freeze it. I have a deep freeze so I can work with larger cans, but you are welcome to eat all of your ice cream if you need room in your freezer. I’ll write you a permission slip if you need one. Just let me know.

Once your can is frozen solid, take your hammer and punch the marks to make holes using your nail. Let the can thaw and dry. Place a candle inside and lay under the stars and find your chosen constellations.

Happy longest day to you and yours.

So, what do you think ?