According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow (a sunny morning) there will be 6 more weeks of winter. He then goes back to his den and goes back to sleep. If he does not see his shadow (cloudy day), spring is just around the corner. This legend began with the tradition of Candlemas, the day that is the midpoint between Winter and Spring. A famous Candlemas poem goes like this:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
On this day…
- learn about groundhogs,
- make paper cup groundhogs,
- have fun with shadows,
- make groundhog cupcakes.
Books & Videos
Groundhog Fun Facts
- The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick. Their jaws are exceptionally strong!
- A groundhog’s diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.
- A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting.
- Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness.
- Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.
- Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.
- A groundhog’s life span is normally 6 to 8 years.
Paper Cup Groundhogs
What You’ll Need:
- Paper Cup (1)
- Popsicle Sticks (2)
- Brown Construction Paper
- White paper or foam
- Googly eyes (2)
- Black pom-pom (1)
- Cotton balls
How To Make:
Tape or glue 2 popsicle sticks together to make one long stick. Cutout 2 shapes to make a groundhog head (front and back). Glue the shapes together just on the edges, so the head can fit over the stick. Cutout ears from brown paper and teeth from white paper or foam. Glue on ears, teeth, eyes, and nose. Glue groundhog onto the stick. Poke the stick through the cup and put cotton balls in the cup for snow. Now you can have the groundhog peek out of the cup to look for his shadow!
- Fun With Flashlights -This is like regular I Spy except in the dark. Wait for nightfall or darken a room by turning off the lights and blocking off the light from any windows. Give each player a flashlight.Select someone to go first. That player will pick an object in the room and will say, “I spy something _____.” The player should say the color of the object or a description of the object. Older children can describe the shadow of an object in the room.The other players will use their flashlights to try to find the object. Whoever guesses correctly will be the next person to spy an object.
- Shadow Play -Create your own shadows on the wall. In a dark room, shine a light on the wall. Put your hand in front of the light to create a shadow on the wall. Hold up your first two fingers to make a bunny. Snap your thumb together with your fingers to make a crocodile.You can also place other objects in front of the light to create strange shadows. Have the kids try to guess what the object is. Move the objects closer to the light and then farther away from the light. How does the distance from the light change the shape of the shadow?Older children can put on a shadow play. Cut out figures from construction paper and glue them to a Popsicle stick to make puppets. Use those as your shadow puppets. Make up a story to go along with your shadow creations.Kids can also put on a shadow play by placing a white sheet or translucent tablecloth over a table or hanging it from the ceiling. Shine a light toward the sheet. The performer stands in between the light and the sheet. Have the audience sit on the other side of the table.
- Shadow Shapes -Make shadow shapes by cutting shapes from the middle of index cards. Fold the index card in half and cut half the shape you want. When you reopen the index card, the full shape will be there.Tape the index card over the flashlight. Now turn on the flashlight and you will have a shape shadow. You could also cut numbers, letters, a groundhog, a pumpkin, or anything else you want. This is a good way to incorporate other things your child is learning into a shadow lesson.Have children describe the shape shadow. For example, how many sides does it have?
- Tracking Shadows -Be shadow detectives and track shadows on a sunny day. Begin your observation in the morning. Trace shadows either through a sunny window on a large sheet of paper or using sidewalk chalk on a concrete surface.Find interesting shadows to track. Trees, playground equipment, and toys have interesting shadows. If you have a helper, stand facing the sun and let the other person trace your shadow.Come back every hour or two and trace the shadows again. Track the shadows throughout the day to see the way they change as the sun moves through the sky. Stand in the same spot each time and have someone trace your shadow.What did the shadows look like in the morning? In the middle of the day? In the afternoon? Older children can use rulers to measure the changes in the shadows.
What You’ll Need:
- Favorite cupcake recipe
- Frosting (white and chocolate)
- Oreos or other brown cookie
- Brown M&Ms
- White candies (jellybeans)
How To Make:
- When cupcakes are cool, frost with white frosting.
- Decorate cookie by attaching candies with chocolate frosting. Ears – M&Ms, eyes – white jelly beans cut in half, nose – M&M, teeth – cut a rectangle from a white jelly bean.
- Stick cookie into cupcake.
- Sprinkle cookie crumbs on top of white frosting.