GUEST BLOGGER LINDA JOY SINGLETON
As a kid, I loved sunny days outside playing games, riding bikes, and walking with my friends. I went camping to enjoy the outdoors like the father and son in my picture book, Sun & Son (Amicus Publishing), hiked mountain trails, splashed in sun-sparkled water, and delighted in nature with my family. I built on these childhood memories when I wrote this picture book that parallels a father nurturing his son beneath a bright sun that nurtures the natural world.
Lovely, gentle illustrations by Richard Smythe, Sun & Son, pairs homonyms and verbs to describe the dual storylines about a father and son celebrating a special day in nature and the sun’s journey through the sky.
For kids, playing in the sun is all about having fun. But the sun is more than a shining source of warmth—without the sun our planet could not survive. Using the following activities children can gain a deeper understanding of how important the sun is to our planet.
Fun sun facts
- It’s the closest star to Earth and the center of our solar system.
- It’s a REALLY big sphere. You could fit 13 million Earths inside the sun!
- The Earth orbits around the sun.
Activity #1: Shining a light on the world
Materials needed: Flashlight, globe, a dark room
Shine a flashlight on a globe to represent the sun. Start off where the child lives on the planet. Slowly, spin the globe to demonstrate how day and night happen as the Earth rotates on its axis . Kids will want to take turns holding the flashlight and spinning the globe.
- What countries/cities can the child find on the globe?
- Discuss the distances between where they live and other countries.
- When the sun shines on your home where in the world is it dark? Explain.
- When your home is dark what part of the world has daylight? Explain.
Activity #2: Shadowing
Materials needed: Sidewalk chalk, sunshine, and imagination
In Sun & Son, a boy child follows his father as they embark on a nature adventure, and the text offers two meanings for SHADOW:
- the shifting shadows created by the movement of the sun
- the child following—shadowing—behind his father
For this activity, find a sunny place where children can cast shadows. Working in pairs, ask children to stand in one spot and trace the outline of their feet with sidewalk chalk. Children should mark their footprints with their initials. One child traces the outline of their partner’s shadow using chalk. Then the partners switch. Discuss why shadows happen. If possible, revisit these same spots later in the day and trace the shadow outlines with a different color chalk. Discuss how and why the shadows are different.
Then get creative! Encourage the child to add to the drawing. Make hair, smiles and eyes with twigs, rocks, and acorns. Or the child could draw wings and fly away on imagination and shadows to fantastic places. Ask the child to create a story about the adventures they could have with their shadow.
Activity #3: Sun & Son charades
Materials needed: Sun & Son picture book
When I read Sun & Son aloud to children, I make it a fun activity of movement. I don’t just read the words—I act them out to young readers. For instance, stretch your arms for “RISE,” brush your teeth for “SHINE,” reach up high for “GROW,” and cover your eyes for “HIDE.” Turn story-time into play-time!
- Look closely at first two illustrations—what does the wall-art, toys, and view from the window tell you about the child?
- How does the sun’s position in the sky change in the illustrations?
- Which words in the book are homonyms? What are their different meanings?
A word about sun safety
While kids play and warm themselves in the sunshine, they also need to take precautions such as putting on sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen to protect themselves from UVB rays. While the sun offers so much to our planet, it can also be dangerous to humans, causing sunburn, skin damage, and risking a higher risk for cancer. Check out this fun video from Australia’s Cancer Counil for a catchy tune that helps children remember how to protect themselves.
Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 55 books for children, including the CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB mystery series and picture books SUN & SON, CRANE & CRANE, and CASH KAT. She’s a frequent speaker at conferences, libraries, and schools, and a long-time member of SCBWI and Sisters in Crime. She and her husband David live among oaks and pines in Northern CA with a menagerie of animals. She offers free 30-minute zooms with classrooms as well as fun educational downloadable activities on her website: www.LindaJoySingleton.com.