Alternate Activity 3: Making Solstice Candles
Activity time: 45 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Candle-making supplies: wax, yellow candle dye, wicks, and (optional) candle fragrance
- Small glass jars (e.g., recycled baby food jars or votive candle holders) - enough for all participants, plus a few extra
- Wooden stirring sticks (e.g., craft sticks)
- Several large, glass measuring cups with at least a 4-cup capacity
- Thick, disposable plastic cups (e.g., Solo brand, available in supermarkets)
- Optional: A copy of the story "The Rebirth of the Sun"
Preparation for Activity
- Obtain candle-making supplies in advance from a craft store such as A.C. Moore or Michael's or an online supplier such as Ebay. Note: Soy-based or beeswax candles burn cleaner than paraffin wax, which is petroleum based; pre-tabbed wicks are simpler to use.
- Make sure you will have access to a microwave oven.
- Make a "practice" candle.
- Attach a wick to the inside bottom of each glass jar, using instructions provided on the wick packaging.
- Set out supplies at work tables.
- Optional: Confer with your religious education and/or social action committees to plan a sale of the candles. Select a few environmentally oriented causes or charities from which participants can choose a recipient for the sale proceeds.
Description of Activity
This activity is an excellent accompaniment to the story "The Rebirth of the Sun" for a group doing this session near the winter solstice. Candles have long been associated with the Solstice and other holidays that take place in the winter months when days are short.
Remind the children of the part in the story when candles were lit "because all fire is a spark of the sun's fire." Tell them they will make winter solstice candles. The candles will be yellow to honor the sun. Say in your own words:
The solstice marks the shortest day of the year. It is a time to celebrate hope and gratitude, because we know over the next months the days will get a little bit longer each day until, in six months it will be the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Say that many, different winter holidays emphasize candles and creating light, including the Solstice.
Using the instructions provided with the wax, put wax in the glass measuring cups and melt it in the microwave. This will take a few minutes; the temperature required depends on the type of wax you use. Then, pour enough melted wax for one candle into each plastic cup. Add enough dye to create a very dark yellow and (optional) add fragrance. Stir until color is evenly distributed. Let candle stand until wax hardens (this will take a few hours). Trim the wicks.
Optional: Sell solstice candles to raise money for a charity or cause selected by the participants, preferably something related to caring for the Earth.
After candle wax has been poured, process this activity with the children with questions such as:
- Why do you suppose so many religions have candles as part of their holidays?
- How does it feel to look at a candle when it is burning?
- How does it feel to have a candle in the darkness?