ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Teaching with Ticia: Groundhog's Day

Monday, January 31, 2011

Teaching with Ticia: Groundhog's Day

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

I traded days my post was supposed to come out, so I could write this one. This is a super fun science experiment for Groundhog's Day, and the great part about it is it's very simple.

First a few book recommendations:

Gregory's Shadow- Gregory's best friend is his shadow, and he loves to go everywhere with it, but one day he gets separated from it. He finds his shadow again just in time for Groundhog's Day, but realizes not everyone wants him to see his shadow then.

Extension activity: make silhouette pictures with flashlights or an overhead projector.

It's Groundhog Day!- Godfrey Groundhog at a fall picnic says he won't see his shadow this Groundhog's Day, and his friends are very happy. But, a local ski lodge owner isn't happy, and he decides to do something about this. Godfrey must find a way to escape before Groundhog's Day.

Extension activities: Draw how you would escape.

Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day!- Gretchen has to follow the family tradition of stepping out to see her shadow on Groundhog's Day, but she's very shy. She gets letters and emails from all over encouraging her to go out. Then she finds a box of notes from all of her family and many of them were afraid too. She decides she will be brave too.

Extension activity: write a letter to Gretchen.

Now that you've seen a few books you could use (by the way, the last one is my favorite); here's the experiment.

Supplies: a stretch of sidewalk or pavement you can draw on, a timer or clock, your student

1. Set up a control line at the start of this experiment. For us, I drew a box for each child to stand in each time we came out.

2. Then I drew a line where each child's shadow stopped and had them predict what would happen to their shadows the next time we came out. It was very mixed on their guesses. If you look at the picture you can see Princess and Superman both thought their shadows would shrink and Batman thought it would grow.

3. We came out again an hour later, measured their shadows again. And of course they had grown.

4. Ideally repeat this all day long every hour. You should see your shadow lengthen and shorten and change where it is. On the day of our experiment halfway through the sun was blocked by clouds, and it started raining at 1:30. Effectively ending that experiment.

I look forward to trying it again this year, and we'll read the books mentioned up above and probably do at least one of the extension activities I mentioned with those books.


  1. We are planning a shadow play day on Groundhog's day, too! Great minds think alike! ;)

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations. I love when people do silhouette pics (although I haven't done it with my daughter yet).

  3. Ticia, great experiment. We'll be filing this away for a sunny day (and no snow on the driveway!)

  4. Love this experiment! Just featured this!