Groundhog Day

 Groundhog Day has always seemed a little strange to me.  If February 2nd is a sunshiny day, Winter is going to last another month and a half?  I guess this explains why poor Punxsutawney Phil has such a low accuracy rate.  Nevertheless, all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the furry little forecaster makes the day fun to celebrate and explore with kids.

 Start with a few good groundhog stories.   Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox and Paul Meisel makes a great read-aloud.  Groundhog has trouble sleeping through the winter and ends up seeing exciting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations that he usually misses during hibernation.  The fun fiction picture book is followed by a one-page non-fiction description of Groundhog Day and groundhogs.  This addendum makes the story perfect for comparing fiction and non-fiction.

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller and Kathi Ember is another favorite.  In this book, groundhog gets sick right before his big day and has to interview other animals to find someone to take his place.  The book could easily lead into a discussion of character traits, since groundhog quickly realizes that there are many qualities an animal must have in order to fill his role.

Also check out author Pat Miller's site where you can get a free 23-page teacher's guide full of tons of activities to complement the book.  The packet includes reader's theater scripts and five different original songs along with lots of other great ideas.  My students especially enjoyed one song that goes to the tune of the Oscar Mayer wiener jingle.

To get students comfortable with all the unfamiliar vocabulary related to Groundhog Day, print a set of these adorable word wall cards from Terri's Teaching Treasures.  The printable also includes a alphabetization activity students can do using the cards.

After all that hard work, it's time for students to make their very own groundhog.  This heart-shaped groundhog craft from Lucky Me! was easy for little hands to assemble.  While the original had googly eyes and paper whiskers, we used crayons to add ours after attaching the groundhog's teeth, nose and ears.

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