February 2 is Groundhog Day. Maybe you and your students have heard of Punxsutawney Phil, but how much do you know about him and the tradition of Groundhog Day?
February 2, 2011, Wonderopolis posted Groundhog Day - "Wonder" from Wonderopolis that centered around Phil and his big day.
Please share your idea for an educational activity that centers on Groundhog Day. If you try one of the activities in the Wonderopolis wonder, or have used a similar activity in the past, share what you and your students learned.
I and the community look forward to hearing about some fun and educational activities!
Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host
Hard to beat Punxsutawney Phil, but I think the change of seasons is a great time to discuss the impact of weather and seasonal differences on our lives, from the disappointment of wearing coats a bit longer than desired to shortened growing seasons or rainy wet weather (which is what we have here in Kentucky).
It's also a good time to look at the use of the Farmer's Almanac and who and why we're interested in knowing what to expect weather-wise. Other animals supposedly help predict as well, such as the woolly worm (Wonder 432), frogs, birds, and even ants. I think it would be a WONDERful basis for some exploratory online learning. My guess is there are many suggested activities on Thinkfinity partner sites.
At Science NetLinks, we also point to weather when talking about Groundhog Day. Check out Groundhogs and Shadowy Doings to learn a little about groundhogs, hibernation, shadows, and more. Hope that helps!
We knew to head to ScienceNetLinks resources for:
Blue-ribbon lessons on weather:
Weather 1: Weather Patterns (for K-12)
Weather 2: What's the Season?(for K-2)
Science at the White House (video for 6-8)
Science NetLinks Updates:
West Nile Weather (Audio for 6-12)
Science NetLinks esheets to accompany lessons:
Robert Gardner (for 6-8)
Simulating Climate Change (for 9-12)
and more, but what a great twist, heading for the Shadowy resources at the bottom of the link you provided, Sarah.
Yesterday, I gathered up the environmental club during lunch for an informal, but informative presentation about Groundhog Day. The kids were amazed to learn that groundhogs have a special burrow for going to the bathroom. They also loved hearing their whistle sounds and grunts. The websites are:
and please don't miss the wonderful MonatureKids videos on You Tube. Here is one about Groundhog Day that my kids loved:
If I ever became a principal, there would be a big celebration for Groundhog Day. Other than Earth Day, when do we honor nature? The origin of Groundhog Day reminds us of times when people were more in touch with the natural world. Weather, shadows, animal hibernation are few of the many science topics that can be explored. Personifying the groundhog is an opportunity for story telling and imagination. What could be better?
Thanks for sharing your groundhog day resources. Excellent point about tying the day into discussions about nature and the natural world around us. Anyone else out there have ideas for other animal behaviors that would make for a good "day"? Maybe we can get a few more going so we can spread the learning throughout the year? Wouldn't that be fun?
Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host
For Ground Hog Day from a math perspective you can look at the probability of it being another 3 months of winter or if it will be spring?
Because of a Ground Hogs Shadow, you could also look at shadows and use proportions to find the length of a trees height using the trees shadows length, your height, and your shadows length. That would be for 7th grade.
Elementary could trace and measure shadows and compare them to their actual height.
As a kindergarten teacher, this is a big day for us! We learn all about shadows and what it takes to make a shadow. My school has been trained to use thinking maps and groundhog day is a perfect way to utilize a flow map. We sequence what Punxsutawney Phil does on that day.We talk about weather patterns across the United States. Six more weeks of winter is not a big deal in California but it is on the East coast. We also learn about other animals that live underground and what they do to survive winter weather.
We love Groundhog Day in our classroom. We learned that a groundhog is related to the squirrel, so we were so excited when we saw a squirrel outside of our playground today. It's the closest thing to a groundhog that we will see in the big city! We created a Venn Diagram comparing the squirrel to a groundhog, and we wrote a short interactive story about a groundhog and squirrel being friends. Groundhog Day also ties in beautifully with one of our Open Court Reading Units on Shadows.
Great ideas everyone!! Hope you had or are having fun with groundhog day learning activites. Now that we are approaching the six week point from February 2nd, are you doing any follow-up activities? Feel free to continue sharing your ideas. As you prepare for next year, here is another site with additional activity ideas:
Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host
Here are some interesting angles to explore with students - especially older ones on this theme, Folklore and Groundhog Day.
This CNN article looks at Folklore as a Career then picks up on the folklore connections to this holiday: http://edition.cnn.com/2001/CAREER/trends/02/02/folklore/index.html
Folklorists study traditional aspects of culture, things that get passed along for generations informally through observation or oral history. They build careers around the examinations of beliefs, music, stories and material culture -- crafts, log houses, pottery, quilts.
If anyone knows the skinny on the rodent of the day, it's a folklorist. Bowling Green's Jack Santino has the scoop. Agrarian cultures in Europe, he says, tied the waking of hibernating animals to the onset of spring.
"In some parts of Europe, they'd look for bears," Santino says. In Ireland, there was anticipation of the appearance of an animal like a hedgehog and the observance of February 1 as the feast day of the Irish St. Bridget's Day.
Some lore recounts the Gaelic saying, Laa'l Breeshey bane, dy chooilly yeeig lane, or "Bridget's Feast-day white, every ditch full." That meant that if February 1 was snowy, there'd be a mild, wet spring ahead.
Another phrase had it this way: Choud as hig y shell ny-gah-ghreinney stiagh Laa'l Breeshey, hig y sniaghty roish Laa Boayldyn. That meant, "As long as the sunbeam comes in on Bridget's Feast-day, the snow comes before May Day."
A large number of Germans settled in Philadelphia and brought the vigil for the groundhog's shadow with them. They were toting along a traditional winter festival called Candlemas.
You could tie it to a weather unit and discuss the folk traditions of weather forecasting vs modern scientific means of forecasting.
Also teachers might look into the special connotations of this day in the Irish tradition. In Ireland, February 1st is the Celtic quarter day, Imbolc, which is also marks the beginning of spring there (and ushers in the lambing season.) This sacred festival day Lá Fhéile Bhríde is aligned with two figures: the ancient goddess from Irish Mythology, Brigit or Brighid, and one of Ireland's patron saints, St Brigit of Kildare or Brigit of Ireland. One activity students might enjoy would be researching and making the Brigid's crosses that are traditionally woven from rushes or straw and hung over the threshold as a protective talisman for the house.
There's an interesting article on the origins and history of Groundhog Day in Explore PA history, the online encyclopedia of Pennsylvannia.
You can find these free online encyclopedias through EDSITEment
Thanks for reposting this- I hope educators realize that Thinkfinity is a great place to store and organize your own ideas and to look for new ideas. My coworker is putting together a craft for the preschoolers tomorrow from this site:http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/groundhogday.html
And, if we have time--we will show the video included in the comments. Thanks for everything here !!
Thanks, Marc, for the suggestion to read the Groundhog Day - "Wonder" from Wonderopolis. It's been updated so even if you've read it before, you might want to check it out again!