Celebrate Groundhog Day!

This particular holiday features a special guest named Phil,  Punxsutawney Phil!  February 2 is Groundhog Day!  It’s a cute little tradition, dating back centuries, that started with folks observing animals trying to determine when spring would arrive.  Tradition has it, if the groundhog can see his shadow on February 2, we will have six more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, then spring is on the way!
Here are some ideas for celebrating Groundhog Day, followed by reviews of the two books I’ve chosen for Groundhog Day reading this year.  Pick and choose the ideas that suit you best.  Have fun!  Celebrate!

  • Be sure to start your Groundhog Day celebration early in the morning by venturing outside to see if you can see your shadow.  (Poor old Punxsutawney Phil is pulled out of his warm bed at Gobbler’s Knob at 7:25 a.m. )
  • Read Groundhog Day! , by Gail Gibbons.  The book will give you a brief, yet fairly thorough, overview of not only Groundhog Day, but of groundhogs, too. (See my complete review below.)
  • Here’s the video from the 2009 Gobbler’s Knob festivities.  I’m posting it for your convenience (and so that you don’t need to see all the garbage on the side bars at You Tube).  However, in my opinion, the video really takes away some of the fun.  Judge for yourself.
  • Just for fun, mark your calendar appropriately, either for six more weeks of winter or for the early arrival of spring, and see how accurate your observation was.
  • If it’s sunny out, teach your children to play shadow tag, and you play, too!
  • If six more weeks of winter is expected, fill your bird feeders with seed.  No bird feeders?  Try covering a pine cone or dried corn cob with peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed to hang from a tree branch.
  • If an early spring is predicted, purchase some early flower seeds and help your children to plant them in a pot.  Be sure to keep them watered and protected.
  • Read Genesis 1:14-19 together with your children.  What does the Bible tell us about the origins of the seasons?  It’s fun to watch nature, but we need to mindful of God who created all things for His own glory.
  • Draw pictures of ground hogs on brown paper or  grocery sacks and cut them out to decorate your learning space, fridge or windows.  I like this one for its simplicity and cute realism, but you can find several others here.
  • Fix some hot chocolate and a yummy snack and then settle onto the couch and read Substitute Groundhog.   (A brief review can be found below.)
  • If your kids really show an interest in groundhogs, open up the encyclopedia or nature books and read more about this neat little critter.  Some good online resources can be found here and here.
  • Did you know that a groundhog and a woodchuck are one and the same animal?  Try your skill at this tongue twister, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”  Guess what?  Someone has actually gone to the trouble of answering that riddle!  You can find the real answer here, along with some additional lines to the famous tongue-twister.
  • Check your poetry anthologies for The Jolly Woodchuck by Marion Edey and Dorothy Grider.   (Favorite Poems Old and New is my favorite poetry anthology for all ages, but for the younger set especially.)  Have your students copy The Jolly Woodchuck‘s twelve lines neatly onto handwriting paper or into their copywork books.  Try memorizing this fun little poem.
  • Want more?  Enchanted Learning has gobs of Groundhog Day activity sheets – word searches, dot-to-dot, matching, spelling, alphabetizing, and lots more, along with a couple of cute crafty ideas.  Find all of that here.
  • Just for fun, rent Groundhog Day to enjoy with your husband in the evening!
  • For those who like/need to journal their children’s educational experiences, the following subjects were covered in the ideas above:  Bible, literature, poetry, calendaring skills (math), penmanship, science/nature,  P.E., and art.   There may be more if you use any of the activity sheets from Enchanted Learning linked above.


My favorite book for this special day is Gail Gibbons’ book,  Groundhog Day! Filled  with the author’s lovely, colorful illustrations, Groundhog Day! is a super little nonfiction book, terrific for all ages as a read aloud, and for independent readers, too.  The book begins with how the practice of observing animals to determine when spring would arrive began, then moves on to tell the history of today’s American tradition of Groundhog Day and the celebration in Punxsutawney, PA.  The book concludes with a wonderful look at groundhogs – where and how they live, what they eat, how they care for their young, etc.  Excellent!!

A fun storybook for the younger crowd (I’d say ages ten and under, but I’m never surprised when the older kids listen in from a distance) is Substitute Groundhog, by Pat Miller, illustrated by Kathi Ember.  Poor groundhog!  The day before his big day, he wakes up sick.  Doctor Owl orders him to bed for two full days, but groundhog is worried about who will fill his shoes on February 2.  He posts an ad for a substitute and several of his animal friends apply for the job.  Most are, quite obviously, not suitable for the job.  They are too big, or too sleepy or lack keen enough eyesight for the job.  After groundhog interviews several candidates, an out-of-town visitor shows up who is perfect for the job and saves the day.  When his task is over, he takes the ailing groundhog home with him to where it is already spring……in warm Texas!  Yep, the hero of this story is the armadillo!  This is such a fun book!

 

If you’d like your very own, brand new copy of Gail Gibbons’ fabulous book, Groundhog Day!, leave a comment on this post.  I’ll choose one name at 9:00 p.m. (PST) on Wednesday, January 20, 2010.
Sorry, the above drawing is now closed!


Let me know if you plan to try any of these ideas for Groundhog Day.  Remember – have fun!  Celebrate!

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33 comments to Celebrate Groundhog Day!

  • Thanks for the information on the book titles.  We have one book  It’s Groundhog Day! by Steven Kroll.
    It would be great to add to our library.  My son has asked several times, “When will it be Spring?”  It hasn’t snowed here, although it’s been cold enough.  His real reason for asking has to do with knowing the blackberries start growing again.  This year he will enjoy the 2/2 activities.  I know my son will be voting for SPRING IS ON ITS WAY!-

  • Thanks great post – planning on doing some of the things w/ my granddaughter (3) – would love to win the book, she loves books

  • Thanks for all of the great ideas for Ghog Day!  What fun!  The books look super !  Please add me to the drawing!  Thanks!   Brandi

  • What a fun post full of good ideas!  Thank you for sharing so early so there is time to gather books and pull together a few special activities.

  • Aw, my grandchildren would love this! Sign me up, thanks! Paula

  • I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, yet this is the first time I’m leaving a comment.  I am excited that you will be sharing about holidays.  This is the first year my oldest will really understand the holidays, so its the first time I get to celebrate all of them.  I will certainly be checking out your suggestions from the library, but of course would also love to own a copy for myself!

  • Great posts!  I always love having fun with Groundhog Day.  Thanks for the book reviews, too!

  • SHADOW TAG!! I loved that game….I don’t think my little kids have ever played it. That will be an activity we will do on 2/2 if the sun shines at all!

    I would, of course, love the book!

  • we love groundhog day we always watch to see if he sees his shadow or not

  • What a fun list of activities!!  I’ve never given much thought to Groundhog Day, but you’ve certainly given me some good ideas.  I think my kids would have a ball!!!

  • Great ideas 🙂  I love Gail Gibbon’s books, so we’d enjoy a copy of this one too.  And of course, we may just pull out the movie “Groundhog Day” after the kids are down for the night… Hope you enjoy your month of celebrations!!

    Danielle

  • This is one of my favorite holidays-Groundhog Day! We only live 2 hours(give or take) from Punxsutawny and have been there on Groundhog Day-total craziness-never again! Phil is darn cute AND I don’t want to brag-but I have actually petted(is that a word?!) him. No kidding!!!!!! My Seth would LOVE this book

    ~Mamabeanof4~

  • I would love to win a book! :o) We are always big fans of reading and hot chocolate with a new book would be wonderful!

    Yvonne

  • Wow, Cheryl, thank you so much for putting this post together. We’d love a chance to win that book. Even though we’ve never done much on Groundhog Day, traditions have to begin somewhere, so I appreciate all the ideas. Have a blessed day in the Lord!

  • Do you know where Phil lives during the rest of the year? Why at the library of course.

    I grew up just fifteen minutes from Gobbler’s Knob. We never went into Punxsutawney on Groundhog’s Day because the crowds are crazy and the weather is cold. But we would occasionally visit Phil during the “off season”. There is a festival in his honor each summer where you can by (among many other things) groundhog cookie cutters. I now live in Colorado, but our family makes a traditional batch of groundhog molasses cookies for Groundhog’s Day. The tradition is carried on from my grandmother who used to me a boxful every year after I moved away.

  • I don’t think we’ve ever done a lot on Ground Hogs day in our homeschool….and the book looks delightful!  What a fun tradition…and another great post from you!  I think the comment idea above sounds fun….Groundhog molasses cookies…too cute!

  • Wow, the book looks great and you had some good ideas, too, for celebrating the day!  We always celebrate with birthday cake, too, because Feb. 2nd is MY birthday!!!!!!

    Love you your blog!

  • Thank you for the idea of celebrating holidays with books!  I have a toddler and a preschooler, and I’ve been wanting to somehow teach them about holidays while using them as an excuse to do something fun (crafts, special food, an outing).  

    I’m an avid reader and I really appreciate your perspective and recommendations for books.  Thank you!
    Carolanne

  • Love your ideas.  I can’t say our family has ever celebrated Groundhog Day before!  Now I feel like I’m prepared. 🙂  

    Please enter me in the contest.  
    Wendy

  • I would love to win the book to read to my grandson.  My daughter taught first grade for a number of years before he was born and she always had the children make little groundhog puppets out of brown paper bags. You have many clever ideas here.

    Becka

  • What great ideas on how to teach your kids more about Groundhog Day. Plus I was glad to read the tongue twister about  the woodchuck. At church this morning some of the kids and I were talking about tongue twisters and I could only remember she sales sea shells by the sea shore.

    madonnal@gmail.com

  • LOL  We live about an hour from Gobbler’s Knob! 

  • Something lighthearted for Ground Hog Day would might be good.  My mother died last February 2nd, and that pretty much took away any spirit of frivolity on that day. nancy

  • Thank you for doing this!  My children would love it!
    trulyrich7 (at) yahoo (dot) com
    :o) Rachel

  • I would love to win this book. I love your ideas for celebrating Groundhog Day. I never thought about it before! I think it is so fun and valuable for our children to have celebrations here and there. I am so encouraged by your site.

    Kristie Anderson

  • It could be good to read a bit more about Groundhog’s Day – all of what I really know comes from the movie!!  (But after watching the same day happen again and again, I feel like I know it well….;))

  • Great post! The books are cute!
    I love your ideas for celebrating Groundhog Day.
    I believe we will do a few with the littles 6,3 and 1.

    Blessings,
    Angie Warren

  • Oh goody, I haven’t missed your book giveaway, although I my have missed doing some groundhog day for my kiddos. Well, there is always next year. Your blog has been a blessing to me, we have several of the books you have recommended and all of us love them. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

  • Not a single Groundhog Day book around here. How did that happen?

    This was such a fun post and i will be using it this year. Thanks for doing the work!

    Dana

  • Thanks for the fun suggestions!!  I would love to enter your drawing, I am going to look for some Substitute Groundhog at the library and read to the kids with snacks and hot chocolate!

  • It’s 9:00.  NO further comments will be included in the drawing for the book mentioned in this post.  

  • Such a cute sounding book.  I would love to win and read it.

    Oh well, never mind,,,I see it’s after 9M your time

  • What a fun idea.  We’ve noted groundhog day in the past but I love the idea of marking the calendar and watching the weather.  Thanks!  ~lisa