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5 Fun Yule Activities for Kids

Yule, the celebration of the Winter Solstice, is a time of magic, light, and renewal. For young witches and children, Yule activities give an opportunity to learn about ancient traditions and engage in fun, creative activities. This article offers a collection of Yule activities and crafts, perfect for kids and young witches, designed to teach the roots of this special holiday while ensuring lots of festive fun.

Yule Log Crafting

Before starting the craft, it’s a great idea to explain the significance of the Yule log. Traditionally, the Yule log was a large log burned during the Winter Solstice to celebrate the return of the sun and bring good luck. Explain how this custom symbolizes light, warmth, and the rebirth of the sun. Pictured above is a fun alternative: an edible Yule Log! There are tons of fun recipes online to try.

Materials Needed

  1. A small, cylindrical piece of wood (like a piece from a branch or a small log)
  2. Paints (preferably in festive colors like red, green, gold, and silver)
  3. Glitter
  4. Ribbons
  5. Natural items (like pine cones, holly, and evergreen sprigs)
  6. Glue
  7. Optional: small candles to place on top

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Preparing the Log: Start by choosing a suitable piece of wood. It should be small enough for kids to handle easily. Clean the log to remove any dirt or loose bark.
  2. Painting the Log: Let the kids paint the log in festive colors. They can cover the entire log or create patterns. Allow the paint to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Decorating the Log: Apply glue to the areas where you want to add decorations. Attach pine cones, holly, or evergreen sprigs to the log. These can be placed at the ends or around the log, as preferred. Sprinkle glitter over the log for a festive sparkle. Tie ribbons around the log or create bows to attach to it. Encourage kids to be creative with their designs.
  4. Adding Candles (Optional): If you want to add candles to your Yule log (which should be done only under adult supervision), choose small candles. Make small indentations on the log where the candles can sit securely. Place the candles in these indentations.
  5. Finishing Touches: Once all the decorations are attached and any candles are in place, set the log aside to let everything set and dry.
  6. Safety Tips: Always supervise children, especially if using candles. If candles are used, ensure they are securely placed and never leave them burning unattended.

Once the Yule log is complete, it can be used as a centerpiece for the Yule celebration or placed in a special spot in the home. Encourage children to talk about their log, the choices they made in decorating it, and what they learned about the Yule tradition.

This Yule log crafting activity not only provides a fun and creative outlet for kids but also offers a hands-on way to connect with the history and traditions of Yule. It’s an excellent opportunity for family bonding and for instilling a sense of the magic and meaning of the Winter Solstice.

Solstice Lanterns

Start by explaining the significance of light during Yule. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and celebrating with light symbolizes the return of the sun and longer days ahead. Lanterns are a beautiful representation of this, bringing warmth and brightness to the darkest time of the year.

Materials Needed:

  1. Colored paper (preferably in festive colors like red, green, gold, or blue)
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue or tape
  4. LED tea lights (safety first – avoid real candles for kids’ crafts)
  5. Ruler (optional, for precise folds)
  6. Pencils or markers
  7. Additional decorations (stickers, glitter, etc.)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Preparing the Paper: Take a sheet of colored paper and fold it in half lengthwise. If using a ruler, you can mark lines along the folded edge to guide the cutting.
  2. Cutting the Lantern Slits: While keeping the paper folded, cut slits along the folded edge. These slits should stop about an inch from the paper’s opposite edge. Space the slits about an inch apart, but feel free to adjust for different designs.
  3. Decorating the Paper: Unfold the paper and encourage the kids to decorate the uncut sections. They can draw patterns, use stickers, or apply glitter. Remember, the decorations will be on the outside of the lantern, so one side should be more decorated than the other.
  4. Forming the Lantern: Once the decorations are complete and dry, re-fold the paper along the original fold. Form the paper into a cylinder and secure the ends with glue or tape, ensuring that the cut slits line up vertically.
  5. Adding the LED Tea Light: Place an LED tea light inside the lantern. It’s important to use LED lights for safety. You can secure the tea light with a small piece of tape at the base if needed.
  6. Finishing Touches: Add any final decorations to the lantern, like a paper handle glued to the top, or extra glitter.
  7. Safety Tips: Always supervise the children, especially when using scissors. Emphasize the use of LED tea lights instead of real candles for safety.

Once the lanterns are complete, they can be used to decorate the home for Yule. Encourage kids to place their lanterns in a special spot where they can be admired, perhaps as part of the Yule dinner table setting or near a window.

Creating Solstice Lanterns is a wonderful way for kids to engage with the Yule spirit, learn about the importance of light during the Winter Solstice, and express their creativity. This activity not only brings fun and artistic expression to the holiday but also instills a deeper understanding and appreciation of this ancient celebration.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Begin by explaining the significance of nature during Yule. Many Yule traditions involve natural elements like evergreens, berries, and nuts, which symbolize life, rebirth, and the cycle of the seasons. A scavenger hunt is a fun way to explore these elements and learn about their importance in Yule traditions.

Materials Needed:

  1. A list of items for children to find. This could include pine cones, acorns, holly leaves, evergreen branches, birch bark, mistletoe, etc.
  2. Bags or baskets for collecting items.
  3. Optional: A camera or smartphone for taking pictures of items that can’t or shouldn’t be collected.
  4. List of Items: Create a list of natural items commonly associated with Yule. Consider the local environment and what’s readily available.
  5. Descriptions and Significance: Alongside each item, include a brief description of its significance to Yule. For example, “Pine Cone – Symbol of rebirth and renewal.”

Setting Up the Hunt:

Choose a safe outdoor area for the scavenger hunt. This could be a garden, park, or forest area.
If necessary, go ahead of time to ensure the chosen items are available and to identify any areas to avoid.

Conducting the Scavenger Hunt:

  1. Safety Briefing: Start with a safety briefing, ensuring kids know the boundaries and any areas to avoid.
  2. Distribute Lists and Bags: Hand out the scavenger hunt lists and bags or baskets for collecting items.
  3. Exploration and Collection: Let the children explore and collect the items on the list. Accompany them, offering guidance and answering any questions about the items.
  4. Use of Camera: For items that are better left undisturbed (like mistletoe or certain berries), encourage kids to take pictures instead.

After the Hunt:

Gather together and discuss each item. Ask the children what they found and share the meanings and significance of each element in relation to Yule. If appropriate, use the collected items for further Yule crafts or decorations.

Safety Tips:

  1. Ensure adult supervision at all times.
  2. Teach children to identify and avoid any potentially harmful plants or berries.

A Nature Scavenger Hunt is not only a delightful outdoor activity but also an educational experience that connects children with the natural world and the symbols of Yule. It encourages exploration, curiosity, and a deeper appreciation of the natural elements that are central to this ancient celebration.

Sun Wheel Ornaments

Begin by explaining the significance of the sun during Yule. The sun wheel, a representation of the solar cycle, is a powerful symbol for the Winter Solstice. It represents the sun’s power and the cycle of the seasons, celebrating the return of longer days after the longest night of the year.

Materials Needed:

  1. Cardboard or thick paper
  2. Gold paint (or yellow and orange)
  3. Scissors
  4. Ribbons, beads, or any decorative items
  5. Glue
  6. String or yarn for hanging

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Cutting the Sun Wheel Shape:
    • Draw a circle on the cardboard – this will be the base of the sun wheel.
    • Inside the circle, draw another smaller circle to create a ring.
    • Draw straight lines from the inner circle to the outer edge, creating a sunburst effect.
    • Carefully cut out the sun wheel shape along the lines.
  2. Painting and Decorating:
    • Paint the sun wheel gold, or use a mix of yellow and orange to represent the sun.
    • Once the paint is dry, decorate the sun wheel with beads, sequins, or any craft supplies that sparkle or shine, representing the sun’s rays.
  3. Adding Ribbons and Finishing Touches: Glue ribbons to the back of the sun wheel, or attach them to the ends of the sun’s rays for a more dynamic effect.
  4. Attach a string or yarn at the top of the sun wheel for hanging.

Drying and Displaying:

Let the ornament dry completely. Once dry, these ornaments can be hung on a Yule tree, in windows, or around the house to bring in the energy of the returning sun.

Safety Tips: Ensure scissors and any sharp tools are used safely under adult supervision. Choose non-toxic, child-safe materials, especially paints and glues.

Crafting Sun Wheel Ornaments is not only a fun artistic activity for Yule but also serves as a valuable lesson about the importance of the sun in this ancient celebration. These ornaments can become cherished reminders of the joy and light of the season, and making them can be a cherished tradition for young witches and children alike.

Seasonal Storytelling

Seasonal storytelling is a captivating way to convey the magic and traditions of Yule to children. Here are a few brief Yule legends and lore you can use for storytelling, a more in depth version of each story can be found in my other post, A Yule Tale.

The Legend of the Oak King and the Holly King

This tale speaks of two mythical beings: the Oak King and the Holly King, who represent different parts of the year. The Oak King, who reigns during the waxing year, battles and defeats the Holly King at Yule, marking the return of longer days and the promise of spring. This story symbolizes the changing of seasons and the natural cycle of growth and renewal.

The Story of the Yule Cat

Originating from Icelandic folklore, the Yule Cat is a giant, fearsome creature that prowls in the winter, especially during Yule. The legend says that the Yule Cat would devour those who did not receive new clothes before Yule. This story was traditionally used to encourage hard work in preparation for winter and to instill the spirit of giving and caring for others.

The Rebirth of the Sun

A simple yet profound legend that talks about how the sun is reborn during the Winter Solstice. It’s a time when the sun stands still (Solstice means ‘sun stands still’), and the days are shortest. After Yule, the days start to grow longer again as the sun regains its strength. This legend is a celebration of light and the enduring hope that even in the darkest times, light will return.

The Tale of Frau Holle

A Germanic legend, Frau Holle (or Mother Hulda) is considered a goddess of winter. When it snows, it is said that Frau Holle is making her bed and shaking out her feather duvets, causing snowflakes to fall to Earth. She rewards hard work and diligence, a theme often reflected in stories told during Yule.

The Story of the Mistletoe

The mistletoe holds a significant place in Yule lore, often associated with peace and joy. One legend speaks of mistletoe as a plant of peace; under it, enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses could kiss and make up. This story can be used to teach children about reconciliation and the importance of harmony during Yule.

These legends and tales can be summarized and adapted to suit the audience, making them perfect for engaging young listeners in the spirit and traditions of Yule. They blend the magical with the moral, offering both entertainment and lessons on values such as bravery, kindness, and the cyclical nature of life.

Conclusion

These activities are not just fun; they’re gateways to understanding and appreciating the rich traditions of Yule. By engaging in these crafts and activities, children and young witches can connect with the roots of this ancient festival, learning about the cycle of seasons, the importance of nature, and the joy of the winter solstice in a hands-on, memorable way.