Happy Groundhog Day! To celebrate this special day and bring some fun to a winter Friday, we have a few ideas for you. No worries! They don’t involve a burying yourself in a burrow and poking your head out in search of your shadow. What are they? Read on and see for yourself!
Just in case you need it though, here’s a little background on Groundhog Day! Celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada, the tradition began as an annual custom among the German community in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will not see its shadow and spring will arrive early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow, respond by retreating back into its den, and winter weather will continue for six more weeks. The tradition is still celebrated today. Many towns even start festivities long before sunrise, to ensure they don’t miss that groundhog stepping out of its burrow!
Weather (sic) or Not?
Will the groundhog see his shadow or will we soon see spring? There’s no telling whether or not an animal is a reliable weather predictor! Maybe a listen to Meteorology (5-#11, STEM-#11, Combined-#147) will help your students understand weather processes and the reasons for meteorological phenomena.
There are plenty of weather-related classroom activities to support your students in their understanding! You and your students can even make a class weather station and use it to track and record weather data over time, maybe even in different seasons, getting in some graphing practice and data analysis while you’re at it!
Focusing on Fahrenheit
With all this talk about the weather, it’s a great time to introduce the podcast about Gabriel Fahrenheit (4-#25, STEM-#6, Combined-#164)—you know, the guy behind thermometers and the temperature scale that bears his name!
Have your students walk, listen, and learn (here’s hoping it’s mild, but a little overcast, so they don’t see their shadows!) then extend the lesson. Make your own thermometers in a mini lab, or get some math practice in with a temperature conversion activity.
Speaking of Seasons
Go a bit further and explore the science behind the seasons! Take some time to find out why we have different seasons with a special season-centered science lesson and hands-on activity.
… or Revisit a Past Podcast!
Some folks associate Groundhog Day with the 1993 movie of the same name. For those not familiar with the film, the basic premise is that the main character, a weatherman, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day (Groundhog Day, of course!) again and again.
For a “choice” winter Fun Choice Friday, have your students each select their favorite podcast from among those to which the class has already listened. Note: It might be helpful to have the class generate a list of those podcasts on a chart to assist in recall later! Once the students have made their selections, they should listen another time to the podcast they have chosen just to refresh their memories. Then, follow up by pairing students in a game of Twenty Questions. Have students keep track of how many questions it takes to determine their partner’s podcast. And what’s the prize for the least number of questions? The winner gets to select the podcast for the next Fun Choice Friday!