Groundhogs and Shadows

February is upon us, some people are already tired of winter. What can we do to have some fun? Why, celebrate Groundhog Day of course. What could be more fun than trying to figure out how long winter weather is going to last? And of course, let's throw in some folk culture and a chance to learn about shadows. But don't think this page is only good in February! Shadows and folklore are interesting any time of year.

Groundhog Day gives the basic background of this odd holiday (adult reading level). Can you find any other nature holidays?

The Official Ground Hog Day Site in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is a good site to visit. Can you find Punxsutawney on a map? It's about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Education World's Come to the Groundhog Day Party has lesson plan ideas.

Canadian teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador have set up a research project for classes to observe the weather following Groundhog Day and compare it to the groundhog's prediction. Visit Project Groundhog find out how to get involved.

Another project would be to look for evidence that local groundhogs or woodchucks have come out of hibernation. If you live near woods, look for large holes, about 9 inches (22 centimeters) wide, in the ground in the woods. Visit them at least once a week during February. Any muddy animal tracks in the snow at the mouth of the hole mean a woodchuck has awakened and come out, probably looking for a mate, not a shadow.

For information about groundhogs, visit groundhog facts.

Researchers at Cornell University who have been studying groundhogs have discovered that groundhogs have a very definite cycle of hibernation. And when do they come out of hibernation? Usually in early February. For more, visit Groundhog Seasonal Cycles (adult reading level). 

Jay Myrdal's site shows you how to make some hand shadow pictures. Ashely has some hand shadow ideas and Project Gutenberg has a whole book you can download for free. has some shadow puppet ideas.

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