How would you explain Groundhog Day to a classroom of first graders? Last year, Lia and I had the pleasure—and challenge—of doing just that. Though a program called Scholastic Reads, we visit a local NYC classroom each month and read to them. This time last year we set out to our designated elementary school on the Lower East Side to lead a read aloud about Punxsutawney Phil.
Here are some of our favorite Groundhog Day memories:
- Learning the proper pronunciations for “Punxsutawney.” It’s a lot harder to say than it looks!
- Summarizing the history behind the tradition and what it means if the groundhog does or does not see its shadow
- Explaining to the students what a groundhog is. It’s like a gopher (no, not a golfer!)
- Trying to tie in an explanation about New York’s very own celebrity groundhog, Staten Island Chuck.
- Pretending we knew the answers to questions like:
- “What does ‘Punxsutawney’ mean?”
- “How do you know when the groundhog will come out of its hole?”
- “How can an animal predict the weather?”
As you prepare to teach students about Groundhog Day, take a lesson from us and be sure to check out these activities (we wish we had!).