The longest day of the year is the perfect time to let the sunshine in. Start a new tradition with your family to celebrate.

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little girl wearing silly sunglasses
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Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere will experience the summer solstice on June 21 this year. It’s the day with the longest period of daylight, and is marked throughout the world with celebrations and rituals (it occurs in December in the Southern Hemisphere). Beginning the day after the solstice, daylight hours start shrinking again until the winter solstice six months later.

The summer solstice represents a unique and underappreciated opportunity to enjoy extra daytime, so start a new family tradition! Now’s the time to plan how to celebrate the longest day with your kids.

Here are 10 suggestions:

  1. Serve eggs sunny side up for breakfast.
  2. Wear silly sunglasses indoors (and outdoors!).
  3. Make a sundial and teach your kids to tell time with it.
  4. Set up a maypole in your yard and dance around it with your kids to celebrate the first day of summer (as is done in many cultures around the world).
  5. Have a picnic in the park.
  6. Bake cupcakes or a cake in the shape of the sun – with yellow cake mix and/or yellow frosting, of course! Here’s one recipe, or try making these “sun spot” cookies from the chefs at NASA!
  7. Make sun art projects. Here’s another great idea from NASA: sun paper! Or how about this one for sun-melted crayon art? Sunflowers make great objets d’art, too! And you can’t go wrong with classic tissue paper suncatchers,
  8. Build a mini-greenhouse that hangs from your window. Here’s a really simple and successful greenhouse project for you and your preschool kids.
  9. Make a “sun music” mixtape and have an after-dinner dance party with your kids. Start with the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” “Good Day Sunshine," and “I’ll Follow the Sun.” Here are more than 300 other songs with “sun” in the title. If your kids’ grandparents happen to have a leftover strobe light from the 60s or 70s, that’s a nice touch for your party.
  10. Visit a home or business that uses solar energy. Show your kids the solar panels and explain the benefits of using the sun to power the planet. Here’s a helpful solar energy video.

Remember, for outdoor sun fun, always put sunscreen on your kids and make sure they stay well-hydrated. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these recommendations for sun safety.

Every moment of your kids’ childhoods is precious, and the summer solstice only comes around once a year, bringing its few extra moments of sunshine—so make the most of it with your kids this summer.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado. He is a Parents advisor and the author of books for parents and families, including No Regrets Parenting940 Saturdays, and Miracles We Have Seen - America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget. Visit his website and blog at and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.