Each year, on February 2nd, people in the United States and Canada celebrate Groundhog’s day. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
In honor of Groundhog’s Day we thought that you might enjoy these fun and free (or almost free) speech and language activities:
- Pop up Groundhog Puppet Craft: Use this activity for children to work on Groundhog’s Day vocabulary: “hole”, “groundhog”, “shadow”, and the concepts: up/down and in/out. You can use a template such as this one from DLTK or this one from Enchanted Learning to make your Groundhog pop up puppet. After making the pop up craft you can talk about the concepts in and out and up and down while playing with the puppet. Then, for some added fun, turn off the lights and grab a flash light. Hold the puppet a 1-2 feet away from the wall and shine the flashlight at it. Show your child the groundhog’s shadow. Talk about how the groundhog’s shadow looks when he pops up, and what the ground hog does when he sees his shadow. For a challenge you can have the groundhog face the shadow and then face away from it. See if your child is able to understand the groundhog’s perspective by asking “can he see his shadow now?”. Understanding another’s perspective is an important social skill, and this is good practice.
Groundhog’s day cooking activity: A great snack for this fun day is Groundhog’s Day Dirt. Don’t worry…this is easy! Use a box of chocolate pudding mix to represent dirt. You can work on concepts wet/dry, empty/full, open/closed, and some/all and rest while making the pudding. Some sample questions to ask are: “Is the bowl empty or full?”, “Is the pudding mix wet/dry?”, “What do we need to do with the box? (open), “Can you pour some/all of the ___/the rest of the __ into the bowl?”. You can also work on turn taking when pouring and mixing the ingredients and following directions while making the pudding. Once you have made the pudding you crumble up graham crackers or Oreo cookies and put it on top. Kids usually like crushing the cookies. Put the whole cookies into a zip-lock bag and seal it. Have your child use a block to crush them. See if he/she can follow directions and turn taking while doing this (i.e. “Count to five and then stop”). Once the cookies are crushed you can pour them on TOP of the pudding. Put extra in the middle to make a “mound”. To add to the dirt look, you can add some gummy worms to the bowl. To complete Groundhog’s day theme, you can insert a Popsicle stick with a picture of a groundhog attached to make it look like a groundhog on his mound. You may have children color their own groundhog using a template such as the one found here. When it is finished you can enjoy a tasty treat! **Tip for children who are picky eaters- Try encouraging your child to taste the textures separately first (present a whole cookie, some crushed cookies, plain pudding, and worms separately so your child can explore and become familiar with the different textures). Mixing all of these different textures together at the same time may make this snack overwhelming and difficult for some children to tolerate.**
- Make your own Groundhog Burrow: Get a big cardboard box (either from your grocery store or a big appliance dealer, etc.). Make sure that it is big enough so that you and your child can crawl in and out of it easily. Using markers, stickers, paint, leaves, sticks, or cut up pieces of paper, have your child follow directions containing prepositions (i.e. top, bottom, middle, corner, front, back) to decorate the box so it resembles a burrow. Pretend you are groundhogs and crawl in and out of your burrow! Use a light to make a shadow. Practice making a “surprised face” if there is a shadow, or a “happy face” if there is no shadow. For added fun you can have your child make a Groundhog mask using this template. Use this activity to target turn taking, Groundhogs Day vocabulary, prepositions, following directions, and understanding of the facial expressions/emotions surprised and happy.
© 2012, Tina M. Rocco, M.A. CCC-SLP, HPCS. All rights reserved.