The solstice

This lesson introduces children to the reasons for the December solstice.

Karen Elliot

In this lesson students learn about an important event on our planet – the December solstice, which occurs on 21 December. It is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. The solstice occurs because the Earth is always tilted in the same direction, affecting the amount of sunlight that hits different parts of the planet, giving us the seasons.

Teachers explain the phenomenon using a ball and light source before discussing the diagram on the worksheet with students, who complete a gapped text. Students consolidate and extend their understanding with a reading and further activities about the seasons.


  • To learn about the significance of 21 December (the winter/summer solstice)
  • To understand why there is a shortest (and longest) day of the year on our planet
  • To show how the tilt of the Earth gives us the seasons
  • To use the present simple to describe facts
  • To use comparatives (hotter, colder) and superlatives (shortest, longest)


Primary learners aged 9–12


CEFR level A2+


50–60 minutes


The lesson plan, worksheet and answers can be downloaded in PDF format below. In addition, you will need:

  • a basketball or similar and a lamp or light source to show the tilt of the Earth and how it affects the length of night and day and gives us the seasons. (If possible, add two circular stickers to indicate the North and South Poles on the ball.)
  • Fact file: Seasons reading (you can do all the exercises online, or you can print and copy the worksheet):
Lesson plan391.31 KB
Worksheet261.69 KB
Answers357 KB
Language Level

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.