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~~Teacher Information~~Groundhog / Woodchuck
Caryl W. reminds us that the latest scientific evidence indicates that bears do not actually hibernate during the winter, they sleep. Wildlife biologists who study  animal behavior now believe that the groundhog/woodchuck, little brown bat and the jumping mouse hibernate.  Bears, chipmunks, raccoons, skunks etc. are considered sleepers. 

There are 3 black & white printable coloring pages associated with this theme. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

  1. Groundhog & Poem
  2. Groundhog  Puppet
  3. Bear Standing
     

    Ground Hog Day Activities
    Meta W. encourages language development, thinking skills, recall and fun with shadows, a pre-science skill during these activities.

    Materials: Cardboard box big enough for a child to fit into.

    Description: Groundhog Day

    Legend has it that on February 2, Mr. Groundhog wakes up
    from his  long winter’s nap and goes outside.
    It is said that if he sees his shadow he is frightened
    and runs back inside his hole and sleeps for six more weeks.
    This means that winter weather will continue.
    If Mr. Ground Hog does not see his shadow he stays outside
    to play, indicating that winter is almost over and that warm
    weather and spring is coming soon.
    Explain this legend so children  can understand and then try these related activities.

    Action Rhyme
    Directions:  Select a cardboard box that a child can fit into.  Decorate the box if desired.  Have a child use the groundhog box to act out the following rhyme.

    Ground Hog, Ground Hog popping up today.
    Ground Hog, Ground Hog can you play?

    If you see your shadow inside the hole you stay.
    If there is no shadow, come out to play.

    Ground Hog, Ground Hog popping up today.
    Ground Hog, Ground Hog, can you play?

    Language Activity & Recall:  Discuss questions like these with your children.
    What will the ground hog do if he sees his shadow?
    Go back inside the hole.
    What do you think his home underground might be like?
    A dark hole.
    What does he do underground?
    Hibernate / sleep.
    What will the ground hog do if he doesn't see his shadow?
    Stay outside.
    What does this mean?
    Spring is coming. 
    What are some signs that spring might be coming?
    Birds singing and flowers growing.
    Shadow Fun:  When the sun is out, bundle up and go outside.  Help your children find their shadows.  While looking at the shadows, do a dance.  What is your shadow doing?  Jump up and down?  What is your shadow doing?  Stand very quietly and then peek at your shadow.  Is it moving?

    Groundhog ShadowShadow Play for Groundhog Day
    Donna P. suggests this activity for older preschool & kindergarten children saying,
    "Visually track objects as they move and then move your body."

     Materials: flashlight and darkened room

    Description:  This activity is good to use around the time you are talking about 
    Groundhog Day & shadows. During group activity time, when the children are 
    seated on the floor, turn out the lights and describe the activity. A child will 
    jump on the flashlight's beam that shines on the floor. Each child takes an 
    individual turn to follow the light as the teacher moves the light from spot to 
    spot. The teacher should insure that the light is close enough for the child to 
    successfully jump with both feet and land on the spot. 
     

    Groundhog Day: Fact or Fiction
    Discuss the difference between fiction and fact and investigate shadows during this activity by Roxanne.

    Materials: Pictures of groundhogs and depending on the project used, styrofoam cups, craft sticks, small pictures of groundhogs to color, glue and markers. A screen and 
    overhead projector, transparencies with shadows of different kinds and, if possible, 
    silhouette paper.

    Description: I show the children pictures of groundhogs at the beginning of circle 
    time.  I tell them the legend of the groundhog, and then, I ask them if they 
    feel this is a true story or not.  We discuss fact and fiction.

    We either do the cup project, where the children color their groundhog and glue him to a craft stick. We cut a slit in the bottom of a cup, they decorate their cup to look like grass and dirt, then, put their groundhog down into their cup, so that the stick comes out of the slit.  They can make their ground hog "peek" his head out, and go back down.  We also talk about above and below, up and down as we do this project.

    We also show the children shapes on a screen and they must guess what shape it is.  They love this.  Then, we let them make some shadows on the screen for fun. We talk about shadows and then we make the silhouette of each child, and give it later as their Mother's Day gift. 

    Hibernation: "Ground Hog Day Puppet"
    This hands on approach showing children how some small animals hide as they hibernate for the winter is from Jessie H.

    Materials: Toilet paper tube, cut out template in shape of groundhog / woodchuck or mouse,  yarn, eyes, glue and popsicle sticks.

    Description: The toilet paper tube is used as a "hole" that a small animal would use to
    hide and hibernate in during the winter months.  Have the children decorate the groundhog / woodchuck or mouse with yarn. Add google eyes and allow glue to dry.  Attach a popsicle stick to the back of the animal.  Slightly fold sides of animal together and stick the groundhog / woodchuck or mouse up into the toilet paper roll.  The animal peaks out of the top of the toilet paper roll by moving the popsicle stick up into toilet paper roll. 

    Comments: Children love this!  It is fun to make and the children can demonstrate 
    the groundhog's actions.

    Groundhog ShadowGroundhog Mask
    Barb K. and her classroom of youngsters make masks for Groundhog Day during this activity.  You can use this fun idea when discussing animals that hibernate.

    Materials: Paper plates, brown crayons, string,
    mouth and nose out of  construction paper.

    Description:
    Allow children to color the paper plate brown.  Cut out two eye shapes.  Glue the mouth and nose on the paper plate.  Tie sting to fit child's head.  Pretend that you are ground hogs.

    Comments: You can act out that you see your shadows.
     

    Shadow Printing
    Enhance the theme of Groundhog Day by talking about shadows and tracing them.
    This activity by Lissa promotes teamwork for kindergarten & first grade children.

    Materials: Large paper, markers, and things to decorate the shadow print i.e. glitter, stickers, yarn etc. and glue.

    Description: Working in partners, ask each child to trace their partner's shadow onto the paper. A very bright day is good for this activity. Tell the children,
    "After your shadow has been drawn, you may decorate it any way you want."

    Before this activity talk about shadows.
    "Do you see any shadows in the room?" 
    "What happens on Groundhog Day?
    Make a chart of who thinks the Groundhog will see his shadow and who doesn't.

    Comments: Children start making other shadows with their hands as they enjoy 
    decorating and being creative.
     

    Teddy Bear Cave
    Susan K. introduces children to the idea that bears sleep during the cold winter months with this activity.

    Materials: Book: Bear Snores On  by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman,
    For Art Activity:  Large brown grocery bag, fiberfill, stapler, white glue, scissors,
    white paper and marker.

    Description:
    1.    Cut about 4 in. off the top of the grocery bag.

    2.   Cut an arched cave opening from one side of the bag.

    3.   Fold the two sides of the bag together and fold 1 inch of the edge over.
          Staple along the edge to hold the fold in place.

    4.   Pop the bag open to form a cave for your teddy bear to winter in.  Children 
          glue some fiberfill snow along the top of the cave and along the bottom opening.

    5.   Make a sign for the cave that says...
        Good night, Mr. Bear!  See you in the Spring!
          Children paste it on the outside door of the cave.

    6.   The children can go outside for a nature walk, collect pine cones and dry leaves
          and also some sticks to put in the cave.

    7.   Children put their own teddy bears into the cave.  If they don't have teddy 
          bears, they can put any small stuffed animal inside, preferable one that also 
          hibernates.

    Comments: My 3 year olds love this sleeping bear to take home. We don't have 
    enough room in the class to keep them till spring. The children do the pasting 
    of the snow, adding nature items and then, their Bear!

    Game: Hibernating Animals
    Help teach preschoolers the concept of animals hibernating through the winter months with this game by S.T. that encourages large motor development.

    Description: Children are accustomed to playing "Duck, Duck, Goose".  Use this to introduce the concept of animals hibernating through the winter. After the children form a circle, reintroduce the idea of animals sleeping through the cold winter months. Have them drop to the floor, put their heads down and pretend to sleep.  Choose one student to go around the circle saying "sleep, sleep, WAKE UP!"
    Everything follows just as in a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose".
     

    Bulletin Board: Sleeping
    Angela P. helps children create this bulletin board as they learn about animals that sleep during in the winter.

    Materials: Construction paper, yarn, hole puncher and cave drawing.

    Description: Children cut out 2 bears from construction paper and then color them. Next punch holes in the bears, making sure to do both bears at once so that the holes line up.  Now children take yarn and lace up the bears.  The teacher can then call the children up to the cave to "put their bear to sleep".  I make a bulletin board with a cave that says Shh, Bears Sleeping!  The children love this!

    Comments: We wake them up in the spring.
     

    Science Activities: Hibernation
    During this collection of preschool and kindergarten activities Pam D. focuses on
    hibernation.

    1. Science Sun Power: Pre-Hibernation 
         Objectives: Teach children about the power of the sun.  It is actually the 
          radiation not the heat that causes the paper to fade.

         Materials: Construction paper (the cheaper the better), cut out shapes that will
         lie flat, a sunny window.

    Procedure: Have children predict what might happen when the shapes are  placed   on the paper in the sun, record responses on a chart.  Lay shapes on the  construction paper in a sunny location.  After several hours check and see if the paper has faded by lifting up a shape.  Review predictions and discuss the results of the investigation.  Teachers can set the papers aside with their shapes for matching activities.

    2. Investigating Acorns:  Hibernation ~ Harvest
          Objectives: Guessing,  predicting and recording.

         Materials: Enough acorns for each child to have a few, a clean plastic tub with a 
         lid for each child, a sheet of paper for recording information.

    Procedure:
    1st Activity: Place acorn in container, have children try to guess
    what is inside (predictions) Teachers post this poem near the center and  read it to the children to help them guess:

         You can find them on the ground,
         Or growing on a tree.
         Squirrels like to eat them,
         Or bury them you see.
    2nd Activity: Give each child a recording sheet of paper and  several acorns.  Help the child record information about caps/no caps.  Then  remove caps and pour water over acorns and let soak over night.  The next day record float/sink.
     

    3.  Nut Seek: Squirrel Harvest

         Materials:  Assorted nuts, a container for each child, paper for creating a graph.

         Objectives:  Counting sorting, making sets and graphing.

    Procedure: In advance teachers count the nuts before setting them out so that you will know that they are all (most) found.  Place the nuts around the classroom then
    talk to the children about squirrels and how they hide nuts away to eat later in the winter when they are hungry.  Give each child a container and tell them they are to be busy little squirrels and find all the nuts in the classroom.

    After the children have found the nuts, gather the children together and help them count the nuts they've found, sort the nuts by type and count again.  Make a graph of who found how many of each nut.
     

    4.  Hibernate, Migrate or Stay Active
         Materials: Animal cut outs prepared for flannel board, flannel board, poem:

         The bear, groundhog and skunk eat without care,
         Then sleep through the winter in cozy dens away from frosty air.

         The duck, robin and goose fly south with all their brood,
         They flock to where there's lots of sun and more delicious food.

         The moose, squirrel and fox stay home throughout the year,
         They grow thick coats to keep them warm when winter's cold is here.

    Procedure:  Gather children around and have them name the animals as you put them on the flannel board.  Then read the poem and sort the animals into groups specified.  After the animals are sorted take a few minutes to discuss how each animal gets ready for winter and why that action is important for their survival.  You can also discuss what signs they get from nature so that they know it's time to prepare.
    Sing the following to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.
         Bears are growling, Eat lots of food, eat lots of food. Growl, growl,
                                      growl.
         Bears are growling, Eat lots of food.  It's time to sleep!

         Geese are honking, Let's fly south, let's fly south, honk, honk, honk.
         Geese are honking, Let's fly south.  It's time to migrate!

         Fox are barking, Let's run and play, run and play. Bark, bark bark
         Fox are barking, Let's run and play.  We're staying  for the winter!

    Groundhogs murmur, Skunks squeak. Ducks quack, Robins chirp.  Moose grunt.
    Squirrels  chatter etc.
     

    Literacy: Brown Bear & Squirrels
    Pam D. uses 2 books, Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle and Squirrels by Brian Wildsmith, to encourage listening skills, predictability and story structure. 

    Materials: book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle and pre made pages of class book “Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, crayons or craypas.

    Procedure: Have the children listen to Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming during 
    center time.  Review the book at circle time, asking the children to recall which animals got ready to sleep.  Then read Brown Bear and ask the children to make their own book about animals that hibernate.  Have them each make an animal that hibernates on their page.

    Extension:  Photo copy the pictures to use on the felt board.  During book center time, children can “read” the book, or tell the story using the felt board.
     

    The book Squirrels by Brian Wildsmith is used for story recall and descriptive words.

    Materials: Writing easel

    Procedure: Read the story, asking the children to pay particular attention to  how the book describes the squirrel's tail.  Using the easel, ask for the children to recall and dictate words the book used – both adjectives and verbs.

    Extension:  Ask the children to dictate words to describe other animals.
                     For example;  snake skin, dogs ears, turtles shell etc.
     

    Literacy: Sleep or Hibernation
    Elaine T. brings the words "sleep" or "hibernation" to life for preschool and kindergarten children so they can understand it's meaning.

    Materials:
    Bear paw prints
    Cardboard box for a cave
    Teddy Bears for sleeping
    Story strips
    Markers or crayons
    Word Sleep or Hibernation written out for the word wall at the end of the lesson with a picture of a sleeping bear attached.
     

    Description: Before class teachers tape down bear footprints on the floor around the room. In one corner have some stuffed bears sleeping in a cave made from a cardboard box. Ask the children to tiptoe around the room after morning circle to see what they find by following the bear prints. The children will find the sleeping bears. Ask them to listen to the story We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Have them make a story strip about their own bear hunt in the classroom. You can add tracks and other animals native to your part of the country.

    Comments: I have the children bring their own bear to school for a bear hunt 
    party afterwards. We serve berry juice and fresh berries.
     

    Literacy: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?"
    Keri promotes listening skills, color recognition, animal recognition and using the sense of sight during this preschool activity.

    Materials: The book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?
    by Eric Carle; brown poster board; white poster board; contact paper; scissors; markers.

    Description: In advance teachers cut the brown poster board into large bear shape.  Cut the white poster board into 6" squares.  Draw pictures on each square with the 
    markers, to correspond to the colored animals in the book (make 2 or 3 of each, 
    so each child can have one).  Laminate all for durability.

    With the children sitting in a circle, place the bear shape in the middle of the circle. 
    and pass out the cards to the children.  As you read the story, the children will 
    listen for the animal on their card to be read.  When it comes to their part, they hold up their card, then place it onto the bear shape.

    Comments: The cards can also be used later for a "Memory" type matching game.
    This game can also be adapted for Eric Carle's book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear? by using a white bear shape and cards to correspond with 
     what the bear hears.
     

    Literacy & Dramatic Play: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" or
                                   "Polar Bear, Polar Bear"
    Teriann T. offers this activity saying, "Familiarize children with literature, colors, animals, and build individual language skills, self-esteem, sequencing, peer recognition and public speaking."

    Materials: Construction paper, markers, scissors, tongue depressors, Chosen children's books

    Description: Re-create the character animals from favorite children's books. 
    I use Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Polar Bear, Polar Bear for our Bear Week! 
    Cut out each colored animal from construction paper, detailing each with markers and colored paper, and glued them on tongue depressors. With older, more skilled 
    children, they could recreate each puppet! 
    Read the book to the children, and then ask for helpers to help you act out the 
    story. Each child holds one character and takes turns reciting the phrases in 
    sequence.

    Science: Sleep or Hibernate
    Teach young children about hibernation with this preschool education activity by Meredith who encourages preschoolers to let "stuffed" animals hibernate for a portion of the  winter.

    Materials: a  large paper bag, some cotton, some paint, gray  or white.

    Description: To show our 3 year old class how animals sleep or hibernate we made our own individual "caves".  Using a supermarket  brown shopping bag, we had the kids paint them gray to simulate a cave. Then we cut a door in the front, glued some cotton batting on the top and down the sides to simulate snow and put a stuffed animal inside. We let the animal sleep for a month or so until Spring, when we had a  Wake Up  party! Talk with children about why animals need to sleep or hibernate and how it helps them survive the cold weather.

    Comments: It's a bit hard to convince some kids to leave their animal in the cave. But once they get the idea, and know there is a  party involved when Spring Arrives, it's a great Hit with them.

    Related Winter Theme:  Penguins

     


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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