Family Fun Connections: Day and Night

Have you noticed how late the sunset is getting? My three-year-old started calling dinner “the dark meal” over the winter and spring, so we have definitely been noticing and talking about the lengthening days lately. With the summer solstice coming up this weekend, let’s spend some time exploring day and night! 


  • Use this upcoming stretch of sunny days to try a human sundial experiment. Mark a spot on the pavement and have your child stand on it every few hours throughout the day. Trace their shadow each time. What changes? Why?
  • We rarely get to see nocturnal animals during the day, but as you explore, think about where they might be. Do you see any good hiding spots? If you made a clothespin bat like in the video above, try finding a spot for it to roost upside down!
  • If summer means flexible bedtimes for your family, try heading out for an evening walk. What do you see and hear that might be different from a morning or afternoon walk? Are any flowers closing up? Are there any stars or planets in the sky? What does the air feel like? 
Human Sundial experiement
Human Sundial Experiment


  • Playing with flashlights is SO FUN. Try adding some shadow puppets to the mix (you can download templates here) to encourage a little storytelling, or create your own night sky experience by making flashlight constellations
  • Unlike plants, people can’t make their own energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. But it sure does feel good to lay down in a sunny spot on the rug. Try closing your eyes. Can you feel the sun shining on you? What if you shift your position slightly? Just as you can likely tell the difference between sun and shadow, some plants grow towards light, or orient their leaves and flowers towards it. This is called phototropism. 
  • Take a look at any stuffed or play animals you have. Are any nocturnal? Which ones are diurnal? Work together to tell the story of a day (“one morning, the sun rose…”) while the appropriate animals wake up or go to sleep. For added fun, you can turn the light on and off as the sun rises and sets!