Sunday, January 30, 2011

Groundhog Day is Coming

February is such a fun month.  Groundhog Day which is one of my favorite times of the year in the classroom begins the month.  Children love exploring their shadows and the shadows of objects outside.  If you lay different shaped objects on dark construction paper outside (easy to do in sunny Florida) and leave it for an hour then you get shadow prints. Letting  children pick the object they lay on their paper is fun because afterward they can let the other children guess what their object was.  We use different shaped blocks, combs, small plastic skeletons (left over from halloween) and anything else the children find in the classroom and want to use.  I'll try to get a photo of one of these awesome pieces of art so you can see how cool they are.
 Graphing whether or not Punxsutawney Phil, the great Groundhog Day Prognosticator, will see his shadow is a great math experience.  Let children choose whether they think the groundhog will see his shadow or not and add to the graph and then encourage them to survey other staff members and add that to your graph.  Have the children and their parents listen to the radio before coming to school the next morning (Groundhog Day) and have them announce whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not.  Children get so excited when they hear the answer on the radio. 

The children also really enjoy making little groundhog stick puppets and planting them outside in the grass on a sunny day. It wasn't very sunny when I took this photo of all our little groundhogs poking up from the ground.
We monitor and mark where the groundhog shadows fall at different times during the morning.  The children are amazed to see their groundhog's shadow move even though the little guy is still standing in the same place.  You can use any groundhog image and let the children decorate it and glue it firmly to a popsicle stick. In the photo you can see that there are a few groundhogs up against the building.  I do  not put stipulations on where they put their groundhog, we learn as much from the groundhogs "in the shade" as we do the ones in the sun. 
Did you know that groundhogs are also called woodchucks, whistle pigs and marmots?

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