We’ve all heard of Groundhog Day, the traditional holiday celebrated on February 2nd. According to folklore, if it’s cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow, then spring will come early. However, if it’s sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.
How do you explain Groundhog Day to your preschooler(s)?
We recommend starting the conversation by talking about about winter hibernation. Keeping it very simple, explain to your child that some animals, including groundhogs, sleep during the winter to avoid the cold weather. Then describe that when spring approaches, the animals wake up from their sleep to enjoy the warmer weather.
Next, make the connection to Groundhog Day. Tell your child that February 2nd is the midpoint of winter. Around this time, the groundhogs start to wake up from hibernation.
Then you’ll want to talk about shadows. You can explain that when the sun is shining, you'll see a darker, more defined shadow than when it’s cloudy or dark outside. If it’s sunny out, go outside and take a look at your shadows together.
You can explain the history of Groundhog Day to your child. A long time ago (in the 1800s), people in Pennsylvania determined that if groundhogs came out of their burrows on February 2nd and saw their shadows, they would get frightened and scurry right back into their burrows, meaning that spring would come late. However, if it was a cloudy day and the groundhogs didn’t see their shadows, they would stay above ground and spring would come early!
Finally, on February 2nd, turn on the news and watch with your little one to see what happens with the groundhog. Mention the weather – weather it’s sunny of cloudy – and remind your child about the two different scenarios and what both mean.
Groundhog Day Activities & Crafts
Now, we get to the fun stuff! There are lots of exciting activities and crafts you can do with your kids to celebrate Groundhog Day. We've listed a few below.
Groundhog Day Shadow Matching Activity
There are a few ways to do this activity depending on your child's age and skill level.
Click here to download the Groundhog Shadow Matching Activity
Option 1) Print 2 copies of the color cards and cut them out for your child. Laminate if you wish. Let your child find the matching pairs.
Option 2) Print the shadows and the color cards, cut out the color cards for your child. Laminate if you wish. The child then places the color cards on top of the matching shadows.
Option 3) Print 2 copies of the color cards and play the classic memory game!
Groundhog Hand & Foot Print Craft
At Mary, Mother of the Light Academy, we love personalized crafts, and what better way to personalize an art project than to stamp it with handprints and footprints! To make this craft, you will need:
- Construction paper
- Brown and green paint
- Permanent marker
- 1 little foot
- 1 little hand
- Print (or write) the following poem on a piece of construction paper: "Here's a little groundhog furry and brown. He is coming up to look around. If he sees his shadow, then down he'll go. Then six more weeks of winter - OH NO!"
- Paint your child's foot brown and have him or her stamp it on the construction paper.
- Clean up your child's foot and paint one of his or her hands green and have them stamp 2 or 3 prints along the the bottom of the footprint (at the toes). Now the groundhog is in the grass!
- Once the paint is dry, use a permanent marker to draw the face and body details.
Groundhog Shadow Craft
What you'll need:
- Brown paint
- Black construction paper
- Lightweight cardboard ie: old cereal box (optional)
- Old toothbrush or paintbrush
- Glue stick
- Brass brad
- Print the groundhog template. Cut it out and trace it on a piece of black construction paper. Cut out the image on the black paper. This will be the shadow.
- Glue the original groundhog to a piece of lightweight cardboard to give it some strength (optional).
- Let your child paint the groundhog brown with an old toothbrush or paintbrush. Once the groundhog is dry, cut it out of the cardboard piece. Lay the groundhog’s shadow under the painted groundhog and push a brad through towards its tail-end. Use a hole puncher if it's too thick.