Studying Weather With Groundhog Day
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Integrate science and Common Core State Standards with this weeklong investigation of Groundhog Day. Share the history of the groundhog as your students put together a Punxsutawney, Pa. weather report. Will the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? Student research is the key to this engaging learning experience.
Start by introducing your students to Groundhog Day. A great way to do this could be with a slideshow presentation to pique their interest. (I used a similar method when I took my class through a fantasy study using Gustav Gloom and the People Takers.)
Once you’ve gotten their attention, share as a class your thoughts on Groundhog Day. Ask your students:
What do you think Groundhog Day is for?
Do you believe people actually trust a groundhog to make a weather prediction?
Are there predictions made prior to the groundhog sighting?
After the class discussion, share the special assignment. Tell your students that the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce needs their help. I print out this letter to share with my students.
Divide students into groups. Each group should research Groundhog Day, as well as weather patterns for Punxsutawney. Students can chart their findings using Scholastic Weather Data Sheets created for Scholastic's Weather Watch unit.
Other questions you may want your students to consider:
What are the weather patterns for the month?
What are the odds for whether Phil sees his shadow?
How many times was there a "no show"?
Based on their findings, students should make a prediction for Phil. Do they think he will see his shadow? Why or why not?
Students can then take their research and turn it into a first-person report live from where you are. As a group, students should write, edit, and revise their script, and decide who will play each role: news anchor, reporter on-the-scene, and cameraperson. After many rehearsals, have students record their weather reports.
Have students share their presentations with the class. Chart each group's predictions and revisit them after Groundhog Day has passed.
Extend Your Lesson
Find ways to help your students connect with students outside of your classroom. Skype or attend a Google Hangout with a class that is in Pennsylvania. Share your findings, then connect again after Groundhog Day to share results.
What are your plans for Groundhog Day? Reply and share.
I know I’ll be spending my day with someone who shares his birthday with Phil's big day every year! Happy Birthday to my amazing husband, Randy Cabral!
Thank you for reading!