For 10 years running, our Lantern Walk has become a magical, annual tradition, designed to help kids big and small, notice and welcome the darkness that comes as winter approaches. Together, we learn to embrace change as a beautiful part of our world. This year, hundreds of thousands of people across our broad community will light their lanterns and head outside to walk, sing and enjoy the beauty of our little lights against the dark evening sky. This chance to feel connected to one another, our community and the natural world can provide us a lasting dose of hope to carry into the upcoming winter and the year of 2023!
Here’s how your family can join a local Lantern Walk or host a walk of your own!
This activity is featured in our November Activity Calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here.
Step 1: Make lanterns.
Read our Fall Lantern DIY to learn how to make a colorful lantern using a jar, tissue paper, glue, twine and an LED tea light. You can also get or gift our lantern making kit, which provides everything you need to turn a jar into a lantern.
Want a fun way to get friends and neighbors involved? Pop up a lantern stand! Instead of lemonade, pop up a lantern stand in your neighborhood. Offer the materials and inspiration neighbors need to make lanterns and join in the walk. As neighbors walk by, tell them about the event and welcome them to join this beautiful tradition with you.
Step 2: Plan your walk and practice the songs.
Local Tinkergarten-hosted Lantern Walks will take place in early December and are open for enrollment. Search for a walk near you at tinkergarten.com/lantern.
Don't have a walk near you? Walk as a family or host your own Lantern Walk! Invite friends and neighbors to join you for a Lantern Walk in your neighborhood or a favorite local park and share that they can learn more about this tradition at tinkergarten.com/lantern.
(Tip: We recommend meeting up for your walk about 30 minutes before sunset in your area. Click here to find sunset in your area on the day of your walk.)
On the evening of your walk, layer up, grab your lanterns and LED tea lights and gather as a family or meet up with your friends and neighbors. Sing songs, light your lanterns and take a stroll together. Circle up at the end to listen to the sounds, smell the smells and just enjoy the beauty you’ve all made together. Take a moment to remember that life is always changing, yet our family, community and the natural world always remain here for us!
Step 3: Get cozy and share!
After your walk, brew some tea and enjoy cozy time together. You can keep that cozy ritual and your lantern going throughout the winter, too! Or, pack a thermos and enjoy a spot of tea as part of your Lantern Walk, too!
Share photos of your walk and tag @tinkergarten to inspire other families. We would love to feature you!
Why is this activity great for kids?
Our Annual Lantern Walk has become a magical, annual tradition, designed to help kids big and small, welcome the darkness of winter and learn to embrace this big, natural change together with joy. Learning to embrace change is an important part of becoming resilient and helps kids develop a habit of mind that will help them navigate life.
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Tinkergarten for Teachers
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The oldest and simplest definition, “student of plants and animals,” dates back to 1600. The term has evolved over time, it's importance changing as the values of dominant culture have changed. 400 years after that old definition, Howard Gardner, the paradigm-shifting education theorist, added “naturalist” to his list of “multiple intelligences.” Gardner challenged the notion that intelligence is a single entity that results from a single capability. Instead, he recognizes eight types of intelligence, all of which enable individuals to think, solve problems or to create things of value. To Gardner, the Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment.
A true naturalist has not simply Googled and learned the names of plants, animals, rocks, etc. Rather, he or she has had direct experience with them, coming to know about them and using all senses to develop this intelligence. A naturalist also has a reverence for nature, valuing and caring for living things from the smallest mite to the tallest tree. A naturalist comes to not only knowing the creatures and features of his or her environment, but treasuring them in thought and action.
Why does it matter?
In the process of becoming a naturalist, children become stewards of nature, a connection that is associated with a range of benefits, including greater emotional well-being, physical health and sensory development (not to mention the benefits to nature itself!). In a world in which primary experience of nature is being replaced by the limited, directed stimulation of electronic media, kids senses are being dulled and many believe their depth of both their interest in and capacity to understand complicated phenomena are being eroded. To contrast, the naturalist learns about the key features of their natural environment by using all of his senses and be interpreting open-ended and ever-changing stimuli.
What is Sensory Development?
Although some scientists classify as many as 20 senses, when childhood educators talk about "developing the senses," we typically mean developing the five standard senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. In addition to honing these senses, educators care about sensory integration, which is the ability to take in, sort out, process and make use of information gathered from the world around us via the senses.
Why does it matter?
The better kids are able to tune and integrate their senses, the more they can learn. First, if their senses are sharper, the information kids can gather should be of greater quantity and quality, making their understanding of the world more sophisticated. Further, until the lower levels of the brain can efficiently and accurately sort out information gathered through the senses, the higher levels cannot begin to develop thinking and organization skills kids need to succeed. Senses also have a powerful connection to memory. Children (and adults) often retain new learning when the senses are an active part of the learning.
So, if kids have more sensory experiences, they will learn more, retain better and be better able to think at a higher level. Makes the days they get all wet and dirty in the sandbox seem better, doesn't it?
What is Teamwork?
Teamwork is the ability to be both an individual contributor and a supportive member of a group. Not easy for little ones, but never too early to start learning how. Although the notion of teamwork seems rather self explanatory, the combination of skills that are required for kids to effectively work on a team is rather complex. People can work effectively in a group when they have a sense of their own strengths and needs, the ability to understand the needs and motivations of others, the ability to agree and focus on a common goal, and the capacity to adjust their personal needs for the good of the group. Needless to say, young kids are too young to master these skills, but they can make tremendous progress if we give them genuine experience with teamwork and help them develop the foundations that underlie this more complex set of skills.
On a most basic level, kids start to build teamwork skills as they learn to negotiate and share limited resources. Anyone who has kids know that these skills do not come naturally, but are developed with age and practice. Kids who have experience sharing and working in groups without the dominant management of parent or authority figure (e.g. the good old pick-up game of kick-the-can that was managed only by the kids in the neighborhood) get much more opportunity to develop the self awareness and skills needed for effective collaboration. The more chances we give kids to feel the pleasure in sharing and giving, the more quickly they become effective at sharing. In addition, when we model how to set a goal and allow kids to practice working towards that goal, we model the behavior they will eventually adopt as their won. Finally, when they experience success as a member of a team, they develop a lasting sense of the power of teamwork and the motivation to start to value a team over themselves.
Why does it matter?
Collaboration makes the cut on nearly every list of top 21st-century skills—and it has become not just a goal but a requirement for most jobs. Technology increasingly enables people to work together with people who differ by geography, culture and mindset, and businesses and institutions worldwide expect employees to work effectively in both face-to-face and in virtual teams. Those who collaborate effectively will not only be effective workers but will be poised to help find solutions to the increasingly complicated challenges this young generation will face.
Further, in most schools from elementary level up, kids get more out of the curriculum if they know how to work well in groups, and this trend of increased peer-to peer-teaching and learning is only gaining ground in older school years. Research even shows that how well young children solve simple problems in groups predicts how they will transition to and fare in formal schooling.