Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Groundhog's Day

Today was Groundhog's Eve... Don't you wonder where some of our cultural traditions come from? We learned in preschool today that Groundhog's Day has been around since 1886 but originated as a combination of several rituals over that last several hundred years. In Europe, it was marked mad the halfway point in winter, with the celebration of Spring 6 or so weeks after.
But, as Americans, I think we just need any reason for a celebration.

So we made a puppet to learn about how our little groundhog friends (aka--marmots) hibernate during the winter in their caves and come out looking for their shadows. It started with a cute cartoon of a groundhog for the kids to color, some Easter grass, a plain paper cup, a tongue depressor, and coloring markers. I cut a little slit in the bottom of the cup to allow the groundhog to pop up and down for demonstration purposes.

The preschoolers did some colorful artist depictions of winter scenes on the outside of the cups. I added the grass with a hot glue gun and adhered the groundhog to the tongue depressor.

The kids were so excited for the final product that they made a line by the gluing station to wait their turns.

The tradition of groundhogs seeing their shadow is a little tricky to understand. If there is sunny, clear weather--that means it's going to be a long, cold winter. But if it's overcast, causing the shadow of the rodent to be cast immediately--that is what means there will only be 6 more weeks of winter. [I know. I don't get it either...I'm just telling you what I know].
Shadows are tricky little things that everyone has and yet can't seem to catch. We worked on a matching sheet pairing up the shadows. This one would be a great activity to repeat occasionally, as a matching game, to get the kids in the habit of visually sorting likes and differences. I loved the hand-out I got from http://www.kidssoup.com/. They have great activities and craft ideas for many of the topics we do throughout the year.

Ah...the things we celebrate!!

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