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January 24, 2019

5 STEM Activities for Groundhog Day

By Elena Konstantin

Investigate shadows and make predictions!

Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Key Takeaways:  

    • Experiment with shadows using flashlights and your own body!
    • Use the February groundhog-themed issue of Let’s Find Out magazine to learn about these cute animals.
    • Look up the weather forecast for Groundhog Day and predict.

    Groundhog Day is the perfect time to learn about light and shadows. Then kids can learn about the cute guy that makes the shadow — the groundhog! Let’s Find Out magazine has the scoop on what groundhogs eat, how they sound and how they burrow.

    1. Play with Shadows

    • Students take turns finding objects in the classroom to hold in front of a flashlight pointed at the board.
    • The object’s shadow appears on the board.
    • Their classmates have to keep their eyes on the board and guess: What object could be casting this shadow? They never get tired of this game!
    • Then give each child a flashlight.
    • Let each child explore making shadows in the classroom with the flashlight.
    • Does moving the flashlight closer or father away from the object make the size of the shadow change? Kids experiment to find out.

    2. Make Shadows Outside with Your Bodies

    Go outside on sunny day and let students play with their own shadows. You can ask these questions:

    • Can anyone make it so that their shadow is no longer touching them? It usually takes a while for them to figure out that jumping does the trick.
    • Does the shadow have to be in front of you? How can you change where your shadow is compared to where your body is?
    • Does your shadow always have to be flat on the ground? Can you find a way to make your shadow stand up like you?

    If weather, time and the mood of the group allow, ask kids to pair up in the morning and trace each other’s shadows. Then come back in the afternoon and see what happened.

    3. Look Up the Weather and Predict (start this one BEFORE Groundhog Day)

    • Look up the weather report for Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA.
    • Tell children to predict whether or not the groundhog will see its shadow. (Hint: Will it be sunny?)

    4.  Make a Cute Groundhog-Prediction Craft and Chart

    Each year, I discover that many kids don't know what a groundhog looks like. That’s why we research groundhogs. The February issue of Let’s Find Out magazine is a great place to start.

    • Open Let’s Find Out to learn what groundhogs look like, what they eat and how they burrow.
    • Then make a groundhog head craft. Cut a head shape from manila paper. Have kids trace the head and then cut out their own heads, eyes and teeth.
    • Let children place their groundhog heads on a prediction chart.
    • Count how many students predict yes and how many predict no. This is a nice way to tie in math and tally marks!

    5. Watch the Groundhog Day Ceremony

    • Watch a video of the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day ceremony.
    • If you can’t watch it on TV, go online or look in a newspaper.
    • Remind kids who already know the answer not to spoil the surprise.

    Will the groundhog see its shadow this year? Who knows? What’s certain is that your kids will love these Groundhog Day STEM activities.

    Discover what Let’s Find Out magazine can do for your kindergarten classroom today!

     

    Elena Konstantin teaches kindergarten at Vienna Elementary School in Vienna, Virginia. Find her at @MissKsKinders.

    Key Takeaways:  

    • Experiment with shadows using flashlights and your own body!
    • Use the February groundhog-themed issue of Let’s Find Out magazine to learn about these cute animals.
    • Look up the weather forecast for Groundhog Day and predict.

    Groundhog Day is the perfect time to learn about light and shadows. Then kids can learn about the cute guy that makes the shadow — the groundhog! Let’s Find Out magazine has the scoop on what groundhogs eat, how they sound and how they burrow.

    1. Play with Shadows

    • Students take turns finding objects in the classroom to hold in front of a flashlight pointed at the board.
    • The object’s shadow appears on the board.
    • Their classmates have to keep their eyes on the board and guess: What object could be casting this shadow? They never get tired of this game!
    • Then give each child a flashlight.
    • Let each child explore making shadows in the classroom with the flashlight.
    • Does moving the flashlight closer or father away from the object make the size of the shadow change? Kids experiment to find out.

    2. Make Shadows Outside with Your Bodies

    Go outside on sunny day and let students play with their own shadows. You can ask these questions:

    • Can anyone make it so that their shadow is no longer touching them? It usually takes a while for them to figure out that jumping does the trick.
    • Does the shadow have to be in front of you? How can you change where your shadow is compared to where your body is?
    • Does your shadow always have to be flat on the ground? Can you find a way to make your shadow stand up like you?

    If weather, time and the mood of the group allow, ask kids to pair up in the morning and trace each other’s shadows. Then come back in the afternoon and see what happened.

    3. Look Up the Weather and Predict (start this one BEFORE Groundhog Day)

    • Look up the weather report for Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA.
    • Tell children to predict whether or not the groundhog will see its shadow. (Hint: Will it be sunny?)

    4.  Make a Cute Groundhog-Prediction Craft and Chart

    Each year, I discover that many kids don't know what a groundhog looks like. That’s why we research groundhogs. The February issue of Let’s Find Out magazine is a great place to start.

    • Open Let’s Find Out to learn what groundhogs look like, what they eat and how they burrow.
    • Then make a groundhog head craft. Cut a head shape from manila paper. Have kids trace the head and then cut out their own heads, eyes and teeth.
    • Let children place their groundhog heads on a prediction chart.
    • Count how many students predict yes and how many predict no. This is a nice way to tie in math and tally marks!

    5. Watch the Groundhog Day Ceremony

    • Watch a video of the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day ceremony.
    • If you can’t watch it on TV, go online or look in a newspaper.
    • Remind kids who already know the answer not to spoil the surprise.

    Will the groundhog see its shadow this year? Who knows? What’s certain is that your kids will love these Groundhog Day STEM activities.

    Discover what Let’s Find Out magazine can do for your kindergarten classroom today!

     

    Elena Konstantin teaches kindergarten at Vienna Elementary School in Vienna, Virginia. Find her at @MissKsKinders.

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