Is spring on the way, or do we have six more weeks of winter? We’ll officially find out this year on February 2, when Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual prediction based on whether or not he sees his shadow. This quirky tradition may not have much scientific basis, but there are lots of fun curriculum tie-ins for the classroom. Whether you burrow into a good book, dig into data and probability, or explore light and shadows, these Groundhog Day activities will get students thinking and learning about the seasons.
1. Read Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller and stage mock interviews
When Groundhog wakes up sick the day before his important duty, there’s a frenzy to interview potential substitutes.
Buy it: Substitute Groundhog at Amazon
Activity: This is a fun story for teaching students to use text evidence—there are lots of reasons why different animals would and wouldn’t be good fits. There are two Groundhog Day activities you can try. Have students use puppets or make masks and stage mock interviews. End with a class vote.
Learn more: @mrsparisiskclass
2. Read Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox and make a puppet
It’s the night before Groundhog’s big day and he just can’t sleep. He goes for a moonlight walk and sees amazing new sights.
Buy it: Go to Sleep, Groundhog! at Amazon
Activity: Make a peeking groundhog puppet using a paper plate and a craft stick.
Learn more: @ourplayplacetucson
3. Read Groundhog Gets a Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow and separate fact from fiction
This story features a knowledgeable rodent who is passionate about sharing the truth about his species.
Buy it: Groundhog Gets a Say at Amazon
Activity: Ask students to chart real information vs. imaginary elements of the story.
Learn more: Crosscheck info about groundhogs at National Geographic Kids or DK findout.
4. Read Groundhog’s Day Off by Robb Pearlman and write Groundhog Day newspaper articles
Feeling undervalued, Groundhog skips town for a vacation. When his departure is all over the news, Groundhog realizes the townspeople’s appreciation, and all is righted before the big day.
Buy it: Groundhog’s Day Off at Amazon
Activity: Ask students to think of a person who does a lot for them. Then have them make a list of 10 ways that they appreciate that person.
Learn more: This Teachers Pay Teachers bundle has an interactive reading lesson plan and newspaper-themed follow-up activities.
5. Read Groundhog’s Dilemma by Kristen Remenar and vote on students’ preferred season
Overestimating his level of influence, various animals angle to sway Groundhog’s announcement about whether there will be six more weeks of winter.
Buy it: Groundhog’s Dilemma at Amazon
Activity: Host a debate and ask students to contribute persuasive arguments of their own before taking a preference vote. More sledding vs. no coats at recess? Tough call!
Learn more: How To Hold Debates in Your Classroom from Think, Grow, Giggle
6. Read Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace and have some shadow fun
This title covers so many bases—it’s a Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day preview in one! When the other animals realize Groundhog is afraid of his shadow, they suggest tons of fun shadow activities to reassure him.
Buy it: Groundhug Day at Amazon
Activity: This would be the perfect inspiration for a morning of shadow-themed Groundhog Day activities, like a shadow dance party, shadow puppets, and silhouettes.
Learn more: Play to Learn Preschool has lots of sweet ideas.
7. Read What’s That Shadow? A Photo Riddle Book by Christopher L. Harbo and play a shadow guessing game
The photographs and rhymes in this title will have students clamoring to guess what makes each shadow.
Buy it: What’s That Shadow? at Amazon
Activity: After reading, enlist a few LEGO enthusiasts to build this shadow theater for you.
Display mystery objects behind it for students to guess using their shadows.
Learn more: North Shore Mums
8. Read The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers or Dreams by Ezra Jack Keats and explore how shadows can be larger than life
Both of these charming stories explore how supersized shadows can be surprising.
Buy it: The Black Rabbit and Dreams at Amazon
Activity: Head outside with your students to see if you can reenact the stories with a puppet.
Learn more: Swap out the Halloween references for Groundhog Day ones in this lesson plan from Scientific American that investigates how to use a lamp or flashlight to change the size of a shadow.
9. Read Moonbear’s Shadow by Frank Asch and talk about how shadows move with the sun
Bear gets frustrated when his shadow keeps scaring away the fish before he can catch them. It turns out patience is the answer; by the afternoon, his shadow is in a different spot.
Buy it: Moonbear’s Shadow at Amazon
Learn more: Science Sparks and Rhythms of Play
10. Read Groundhog Day Suit by Dee Smith and make a groundhog paper doll
Groundhog knows he has an important message to deliver on Groundhog Day and wants to arrive in style! He snips, sews, and adds decorations to his suit so he can look perfect during his big moment.
Buy it: Groundhog Day Suit at Amazon
Activity: Create a groundhog paper doll kit, like this vintage printable. Or keep it simple and provide students with a line drawing of a groundhog and let them create their own adornments.
Learn more: Mostly Paper Dolls
11. Read Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow by David Biedrzycki and talk about friendship
Phil and his shadow don’t get along that well anymore—they’re just so different from each other. So Shadow runs off to see the world.
Buy it: Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow at Amazon
Activity: Ask students to think of a friend and make a list of ways they are the same and ways they are different. Brainstorm the benefits of having a friend who may think and act differently than you would.
Learn more: Watch 12 of Our Favorite Videos for Teaching Kids About Friendship.
12. Learn more about the history of the holiday
Many people wonder just what is Groundhog’s Day and why do we celebrate it? How did it all begin? This short activity will give kids a little insight into this February 2nd tradition.
Activity: Share this printable from The Literacy Nest.
Learn more: Read more about the history of Groundhog Day here.
13. Make predictions: What will Phil do?
Making predictions is a skill that good readers use to comprehend what they are reading on a deeper level.
Activity: The day before Groundhog Day, gather your students together and have each of them vote on whether this will be a “yes” year or a “no” year.
Learn more: Read about how accurate Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have been throughout the years at Live Science.
You can keep it extra simple like the example above from @stamper_library. But how cute is this version from @teachinginruffles?
14. Conduct a full-scale survey
Activity: Conducting a class survey about Groundhog Day predictions is a super-fun way to practice math skills. Look how much fun the kids at @rvsroomone are having.
Learn more: Here’s one sample survey you could use.
15. Try groundhog glyphs
Activity: The kids in TeachersLove.com‘s class loved this fun Groundhog Day glyph art project.
Learn more: How To Use Mathematical Glyphs in the Classroom from The Fun Factory
16. Use Groundhog Day to teach about probability
There are so many creative ways to teach probability in the elementary classroom.
Activity: Try these fun spinner games to celebrate Groundhog Day with your students.
Learn more: @vestalsclassroom
17. Learn about groundhog burrows, then write about it
Kids love learning about the unique habitats different animals live in. Did you know that groundhogs live in burrows and dig up to 700 lbs. of dirt when digging their burrows?
Activity: Have your students pretend they’re groundhogs and do a little descriptive writing. First, ask them to draw their burrows. Then have them write a few sentences about their home from the point of view of a groundhog. Finally, help them make a little groundhog face to add to their project.
Learn more: Groundhogs & Their Burrows from Just Cara Carroll
18. Make a craft that explains the two possible outcomes on Groundhog Day
Sometimes it’s hard for grown-ups to even remember what it means if the groundhog does or does not see his shadow.
Activity: This cute craft teaches kids whether seeing its shadow means an early spring or six more months of winter.
Learn more: Almost Unschoolers
19. Make a groundhog measuring stick
Make your math unit on measurement even more fun by helping your students make their own themed rulers.
Activity: Use paint-stirring sticks from your local home improvement store to create these adorable groundhog measuring sticks.
Learn more: Enchanted Homeschooling Mom
20. Conduct a groundhog facts animal study
Engage your class with this hands-on unit packed with fun science activities all about groundhogs!
Activity: Learn about mammals, parts of a groundhog, the difference between groundhogs, and more.
Learn more: A Dab of Glue Will Do
21. Finally, we’ll just leave you with these adorable little guys