Check out these five ideas to use this Groundhog Day. Students will enjoy learning why we celebrate this holiday. The cookie recipe is not only delicious but cute. Be sure to download the free printables as well.
Groundhog Day Activity #1 [The Story Behind Groundhog Day]
Tradition says that if a groundhog comes out of its hole on February 2 and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If there is no shadow, an early spring is predicted.
While the first Groundhog Day was celebrated in 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, its roots go back much farther. In Europe, one ancient Christian holiday was Candlemas Day. On this day, a clergyman would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles were symbolic of how long and cold the winter would be.
This English song explains the rules of Candlemas:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, winter, have another flight.
If Candlemas brings cold and rain,
Go, winter, and come not again.
Germans used a similar song:
If Candlemas brings wind and snow,
Then spring will very soon show.
But if it’s clear and bright,
Then spring won’t come so right.
Germans expanded on this tradition by selecting a hedgehog as a means of predicting the weather. The hedgehog was awakened from hibernation on February 2 to see if it would see its shadow.
In the early 1840’s, many German immigrants moved to Pennsylvania. They wanted to keep to their traditions, but hedgehogs were not native to the area. Instead, they chose a groundhog for the honor. The groundhog was dubbed with the name “Punxsutawney Phil.”
Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather for 120 years. Because nine years records were not kept, he has predicted 99 forecasts of more winter and 15 for an early spring. His predictions have a 39% accuracy rate. According to detailed records kept by the National Climatic Data Center, Punxsutawney Phil has correctly predicted the weather only five times out of the twenty-six years analyzed.
Read how Groundhog Day became an American holiday in this printable format.
Groundhog Day Activity #2 [Historical Data from NOAA Website]
Check out 26 years of analyzed data from the National Centers for Environmental Information to see just how accurate Punxsutawney Phil really is.
Activity #3 [Groundhog Cookies]
Make these ground hogs with tootsie rolls. This website has an easy to follow tutorial explaining how to assemble these adorable cookies.
Groundhog Day Activity #4 [Groundhog Day Video]
This is a video your students are sure to love. It contains a lot of good information about groundhogs.
Groundhog Day Activity #5 [Project Groundhog 2016]
Project Groundhog is about finding out if a groundhog predicting an early spring or extended winter is myth or truth. For the six weeks following Groundhog Day, February 2nd, you will record the daily temperature and sky conditions in your area. The information collected is shared weekly with the participating schools via email and the Project Groundhog website.
Happy Groundhog Day