Celebrating (and explaining!) Groundhog Day

Alexandra Wladich  //  Feb 2, 2015

Celebrating (and explaining!) Groundhog Day

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!).