Punxsutawney Groundhog Eve

Groundhog's Day Fun

by Diane Flynn Keith

Ground Hog's Day is coming on February 2nd! Here are some fun and educational ideas for celebrating with your little ones...

The History of Groundhog's Day

Explain Groundhog's Day to your child in a way they can understand. Basically, legend has it that if the groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow (because the day is bright and sunny), he will get frightened and run back in his burrow bringing 6 more weeks of winter. If the groundhog comes out of his burrow and does not see his shadow (because the day is cloudy and overcast), he will stay outside and we will have an early spring.

The "official" groundhog is named Punxsutawney Phil. He lives at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow to predict the weather for the rest of season to crowds of onlookers and fans. This grand celebration of Groundhog's Day in Punxsutawney, began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers and has roots in other traditions.

February 2nd happens to be the day that winter is half over -- as it lies half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Celebrations derive from a combination of elements, including the observation of the natural habits of hibernating animals, the ancient pagan ritual of Imbolc (that used fire to celebrate the return of sunlight after a long, dark winter), and the Christian religious tradition of Candlemas (hand-made beeswax candles were blessed for use during the coming year on February 2nd). The traditional Candlemas recitation sheds some light on the topic...

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day brings clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won't come again.

Of course, all of these aspects of February 2nd can lead to some wonderful learning opportunities about seasons, hibernating animals, light, shadows, and more! Here are some suggestions...

Great Groundhog Reads:

There are lots of books about groundhogs and Groundhog Day written with preschoolers in mind. Take this list to your library and see if you can find some to enjoy with your children -- or click on the links to purchase from Amazon.com. (Your purchases help support this website! Thank you!)

Make a Paper Bag Groundhog!

Show your children how to lightly stuff a brown lunch bag with newspaper. Tape or staple the bag closed. Mold it with your hands to give it a roundish "goundhog" shape. Let the children use markers to put eyes, nose, ears, and mouth on their groundhogs. Show the children how to give the illusion of fur by making streaks with a brown marker all over the bag. Get fancy by attaching pipe cleaners for whiskers. Use your imaginations to create other features. Make a family of groundhogs with different size brown bags. Have fun!

Groundhog Hunt!

Once you've made a groundhog, hide him in a "burrow" somewhere in the house. Use a stop watch, digital or analog clock. Time how long it takes to find the groundhog. If using an analog clock, show your child the clock. Point to the big hand, and notice where it is when you begin the hunt. Then notice where it is when you find the groundhog. Count the dots (minute marks) on the clock from where it was when you started to where it was when you ended. That's how many minutes it took!

Make your own Groundhog Burrow!

Get a big cardboard box (either from your grocery store or a big appliance dealer, etc.). Make sure it's big enough so that you and your child can crawl in and out of it easily. Decorate it to resemble a burrow. Use markers, paint, or contact paper. Pretend you are groudhogs and crawl in and out of your burrow!

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While you're playing....

Now, for those of you who want to extend the learning further, visit:


Go to sleep Groundhog

This is the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and it offers all kinds of curricular activities for a wide range of ages and grade levels. Please be very careful not to force curriculum on preschoolers. Use the ideas and lessons here as a guide. If your children enjoy them -- great! If not, put it away and move on to something that really peaks their interest and imagination. The site includes:

Be sure not to miss the Fun Facts About Groundhogs. It will help you answer all of those questions your preschoolers are sure to ask once they know about Groundhog's Day.

Happy Groundhog's Day!