Every year on February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil crawls out of his hole in the early morning hours. If he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn't see his shadow, he has predicted an early spring.
This fun tradition lends itself to a variety of activities you can do with your children.
Make a “Groundhog”
Have your child choose one of his or her plush friends. Take the plush friend outside in the morning and see if it “sees its shadow.”
- No plush friend? Draw a groundhog on a piece of paper, cut it out, and attach the drawing to a popsicle stick. Will your child's drawing see its shadow? Find out! (If you or your child is unsure what a groundhog looks like, this is a fantastic time to do some internet exploration! While you are looking at illustrations or photographs of groundhogs, stop and check out some facts too!)
- Punxsutawney Phil is the name of the groundhog you may see on the news on Groundhog Day. Tell your child to name the plush friend or groundhog drawing using alliteration and the name of your town. For example, you might have Houston Hank, Atlanta Amy, or Manhattan Mo.
- Grab some sidewalk chalk and trace your shadow (if you can find it!)
- Try to figure out if there are places where it is easier to see your shadow than others? Ask your child these questions: What do you think causes you to see your shadow? Why does our shadow “disappear?”
- Go on a shadow hunt together. Inspect the shadows that different objects cast. Compare the shape and size of shadows from different objects.
Watch the Weather
Start a simple weather chart using a blank calendar template. Each day, have your child write or draw the day’s weather on the corresponding space. Extend the activity by checking for your shadow each morning. Write “yes” or “no” on each space, and then use that information to predict what will happen on February 2nd.
My favorite way to celebrate any special day (or any random day for that matter!) is with reading! There are so many fantastic Groundhog Day picture books to discover. My favorites include:
Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons
Groundhog’s Day Off by Robb Pearlman
Groundhog Gets a Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow
Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill
Want even more books? Check out Scholastic’s list of Groundhog Day stories.
The Scholastic Teachers site has even MORE great ideas for you to check out! Click HERE for more Groundhog Day info, projects, and activities. Happy Groundhog Day everyone!