Winter | Sun: Pre-K and Kindergarten

Winter Harvest: Sunshine

Summary: We can use the sun to power homes and pump water but we can also use it to make art. In a season of gray and white, we can use the sun and a little imagination to create something colorful and bright. 

Before Visiting the Garden: 

  • Gather: Cookie sheet, liquid watercolors, muffin pan, paintbrush, eyedropper, tape, water, white paper, black construction paper, and scissors 
  • Explore: “The Magic Flute” by Marc Chagall: This watercolor painting is telling a story. Can you imagine what it is? 
  • Read: On Earth by G. Brian Karas 

In the Garden: 

We can create heat and light by letting in the sun through materials like window glass but what happens when we block the sun from coming in? Today, we’re going to make some art by blocking the sun from certain parts of our canvas. 

Questions to Explore:

  • What colors do you see in the garden during winter?
  • When the sun hits the garden in winter, do you see different colors?
  • How does the sun feel during the winter? 
  • Is the sun warm enough to make you feel like visiting a beach or would you rather curl up near a warm fire?


    • Tape your white paper to the bottom of your cookie sheet.
    • Carefully use scissors to cut out shapes and designs from your black paper. Set them next to your cookie sheet. 
    • Use your paintbrush to brush water over the entire surface of the paper, being careful to wet everything without soaking it.
    • Pour small amounts of the liquid watercolors into your muffin pan. Use the eyedropper to suck up a bit of the liquid and drop it onto the page. Design away! 
    • Once you are satisfied with your canvas, dip your black design pieces into your water, making sure to get the entire piece wet. Lay your design pieces onto the white paper. 
    • Leave your pan and paper in the sun to dry completely. Once dry, peel the black pieces off your paper. What do you see? The sun worked with your imagination to create an entirely new design!

 Beyond the Garden | Exploring with Your Imagination

Scientists are constantly exploring and testing new theories about the sun’s energy. You can continue to encourage the development of your gardener’s imagination with a “tinker tray.” After washing out the muffin pan from your art excursion, refill the pan with all sorts of creativity-inspiring materials like nuts and bolts, pipe cleaners, straws and other odds and ends. Prepare for hours of free play!

Continue Exploring | Supporting Materials

Explore images from the Solar Dynamics Lab:

Note for Parents:
Each lesson suggests you explore a piece of artwork and read a specific book with your child. The artwork and books are easily available for view with an online search. However, these suggestions are not necessary to complete the lessons.

Guiding Principles


Learning, though not always visible, is always happening. The lessons are designed using inquiry as a base. Rather than “right answers” be more concerned with asking good questions.


Things may not go as planned. The lessons are designed to be used in whatever way works best for you. You can use all of the lesson or just pull a piece out of it.


Planting and cultivating a garden is believing in possibility. The lessons are designed to generate excitement about the future.


Each lesson includes a way to take the learning out into the community for more learning and more connection.


When a young child’s innate curiosity is unleashed in a garden the possibilities are endless. Any topic is open for exploration.


You will get dirty. There will be bugs.