Jul 3, 2009

Those Dog Days Of Summer

Dog Days

1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?” Well, I had some fun looking this up and got a mini astronomy lesson to boot! Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.

Sirius is the alpha star in the constellation Canis Major. Canis Major is called the Big Dog, which gives Sirius its nickname of "the Dog Star". The name Sirius means "scorching," which may relate to its brightness as a star and its relationship to summer. It was because Sirius "disappeared," or joined the sun during the summer, that the saying came about. Ancient Romans believed that Sirius added its warmth to that of the sun's as they neared one another and that this was what produced the hottest days of summer.

The ancient Egyptians attached special importance to Sirius. An event called the heliacal rising of Sirius occurred when the star became visible in the east just before sunrise in the summer. The star’s dawn appearance signaled the flooding of the Nile which brought fresh soil and nutrients to the crop lands along the river, leading to fertility and good harvests. The heliacal temples were constructed so that the light of Sirius reached the inner chambers on this date.

So, after learning what exactly "The dog days of summer" meant, how about a few fun summer dog day activities?

Scavenger Hunt

Have a hunt with your kids or help plan one for the neighborhood gang.

You'll Need:
A list of common house hold objects that you know you have. Each team or child will receive a list and a bag for the items (make the lists before gathering the kids).
The lists can contain anything:
A dandelion, rock, Pill bug, worm, leaf, ball, roller blade...
Pre readers will need pictures. The object of the game is
to be the first team to find and retrieve all of the objects on the list. Play inside or outdoors.

Tent Time

Kids love to play in their own tent space. You can do it without the hassle of pitching a tent.
Use a plastic tarp over the clothesline with stakes at the corners. Cover the floor with a blanket or sheet.
Provide a picnic lunch, board games and other activities for the little campers. Using this instead of a real tent will prevent damaging the lawn. Kids can use it all summer long for a relief from the sun.

Rock Garden

During the morning, when the sun’s rays aren’t so hot and the morning breeze is still present, take a walk together, looking for rocks. Kids love rock hunting and with every new find will grow more excited. Tell them to keep an eye out for rocks of all shapes and sizes, watching for flat, smooth stones, as well as jagged, sharp rocks. Encourage them to use their imaginations and look for rocks that can be turned into animals, flowers, dragons or fairies once you are at home.


His Precious said...

That was very interesting. My daddy has a saying, "It feels like a big dog breathing on ya outside today!"


Patrice said...

Very interesting post.It's summer time and those activities you have mentioned above are so much fun to play especially for the kids. Let's enjoy "those dog days of summer" time.