Monday, January 13, 2020

Integrating Groundhog Day into Your Curriculum

Groundhog Day is a funny little celebration - not quite a holiday, but nonetheless an opportunity to learn something new and have some fun in the midst of a long winter. In view of how many other fun but time-sucking holidays are on the horizon in February, we all know that "the show must go on" - there's so much teaching and learning yet to be done! So, let's talk about integrating Groundhog Day into your curriculum to save you time and maximize learning!

Celebrated since 1887, Groundhog Day has origins in ancient religious practices (Candlemas Day) as ancient weathor lore in which various other animals like badgers and bears were said to be good predictors of weather. If you're studying or have already studied weather in science, Groundhog Day is a good time to review vocabulary using riddles about weather.

Unscientific as the day may be as a predictor of spring, Groundhog Day is also a great opportunity to talk about shadows and how they change in length over the course of the day. A word of advice:  you might not want to do what I did one year long ago.  I worked with my first graders to create charts to observe and record how the length of a shadow changes over the course of several hours. We went outside four times (4!!!) during the day, and they each worked with a partner to draw the length of their shadows on the sidewalk, using a different color chalk each time. Even though my class was very small that year, I really didn't think through how long the coats on / coats off routine was going to take each time, or how very excited this activity was going to get them.  I really think that they did learn a lot, they definitely got up and moving, and they got some extra fresh air.  Needless to say, I was exhausted at the end of that day!

Groundhog Day is also an appropriate time for a little sidetrip into talking about real vs. fantasy.  You can watch a one minute informational video of real groundhogs from The Science Museum of Virginia here to enrich your discussion.

Here's a free activity to add to your literacy centers for Groundhog Day.  Click here to see Grouchy Groundhog, a fun way to practice words that start with dr-, gr-, and tr- blends.

Here are a few math ideas for integrating Groundhog Day into your curriculum. 

I'm not sure exactly how I'd use this in the classroom, but I know that I couldn't let the fact that the date is a palindrome just slip by.  You might try just displaying 02-02-2020 and asking your students what they notice. Palindromes are just so cool, and every class seems to have at least one student who just becomes fascinated with them.

Math logic riddles are a great way to enrich your curriculum and offer alternatives for your early finishers and advanced students. Try this free set of eight elimination riddle cards for Groundhog Day by clicking here!

The last two ideas for math are both paid products in my TPT store.

The first is an extended set of riddles like those in the free set just above, but all completely different from the free ones. This set has 24 riddle cards, a board game that uses the cards, and the same riddles in printable worksheet format, handy for lesson warm-ups, exit tickets, and homework.  You can find it here.

If your students could use more practice on the very basic step of mentally finding ten more and ten less, and if they're ready to move beyond the concrete stage,  this might be just what you need! Click here for a closer look.

Happy Teaching!


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