Groundhog Day Ideas

Every February 2nd, the United States of America holds its breath as Punxsutawney Phil up on Gobbler’s Knob gets awakened, taken out of his den and made to look for his shadow. If he sees it, it means six more weeks of winter. Why do Americans let a hibernating rodent make their long range weather forecasting? No one really knows, but most likely because it is a lot of fun! The whole idea can be used as a great excuse for a bulletin board.

This is about groundhogs, one of the few animals that truly hibernates rather than just sleeps, and it lives in a hole in the ground, so make the board as a cut away from the soil, showing the groundhog den. Put plants and snow on top with Punxsutawney Phil napping below. It sounds simple and it is, but now get the students involved.

Along the bottom of the board, place a time line and show how long animals such as Punxsutawney Phil have been used for weather predictions. The custom of using animals and the light and dark on February 2nd actually goes back a long way and has been the subject of poets for centuries. The old day was known as Candlemas. You can find a few of the poems on the website. Get the class to make up some more and post them on the board! Get other teachers involved, that way it will be fun and educational for the whole school.

Then at one side there should be groundhog facts mixed with groundhog myths. This can be done two ways, either presented straight or have students look them up and decide which are true and which are false! There could be questions such as how much does an average groundhog weigh (And how much does the current Punxsutawney Phil weigh, he is rather plump). What term means a baby groundhog (it is not Phil junior)? How long do groundhogs live? How accurate is Punxsutawney Phil? What President had Punxsutawney Phil come to the White House? The are fascinating facts and creatures and the students should find them intriguing to research.

Is this too simple a bulletin board? For some it may be, but for others it may be not. What everybody must realize is that Punxsutawney Phil is just a simple weather forecasting rodent that comes out to look for his shadow, nothing complex about that! Simple boards are some times the best.