For Americans, and Canadians, it seems, there is no better predictor for spring than a groundhog and his shadow. Yeah, it’s a bit sketchy, but it’s s fun tradition that would be difficult to find offense in, so we get to have fun with it at school. The kids predicted whether or not Phil would see his shadow, and I found a lot of fun books to share with them. Truth be told, there aren’t a ton of great lower-grade groundhog stories available, but here is what I found:
I have kindergarten twice each week so I started the week with simple nonfiction about groundhogs and shadows.
Then for their second class, they got to watch a Peep and the Big Wide World episode where Peep, Chirp and Quack teach a young groundhog about shadows. You can watch it here.
First grade got to come twice this last week too, so first we read The Black Rabbit about a rabbit who is scared of his own shadow.
There was time to spare so I also read Moonbear’s Shadow by Frank Asch to them.
They loved Moonbear, so I think I’ll find other ways to work his stories in. I didn’t read to them as kindergarteners so they aren’t familiar with him.
For their Friday class, we read a really fun book about a little girl groundhog who doesn’t act like the rest of the groundhogs in her family.
Phyllis wants to be a Punxsutawney Phil, like her uncle, but she is told that Phil is always a fellow.
Phyllis doesn’t deny her instincts though, and one cold day in February, she realizes an early spring is coming, even though Uncle Phil misses the signs.
I really liked this book. I am excited because she has a second book about another hard-to-find holiday: April Fools Day.
We had a couple of minutes after we read about Phyllis so we decided to learn some facts about groundhogs from Gail Gibbons. If you aren’t familiar with her picture-book nonfiction titles, you should go find them!
We learned that groundhogs are also called woodchucks, they live about 3-5 years and there are other groundhog weather predictors besides Phil.
- Chuck Wood lives in Los Angelos
- Unadilla Bill lives in Unadilla, Nebraska
- Sir Walter Wally lives in Raleigh, North Carolina
- General Lee lives in Atlanta, Georgia
There are many more, as I found in this article from Time magazine.