Every February 2nd there’s an event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania that attracts the attention of people from all over the world. The early morning event is centered around a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, who forecasts how much more winter weather there will be. If Phil sees his shadow on Gobbler’s Knob, it means six more weeks of winter.
Check out the website of Punxsutawney Phil, the official Groundhog for today’s official forecast.
Nicholas had never heard of Groundhog Day so we talked about it some.
I started off talking to him about hibernation and how a groundhog sleeps underground during the winter. Always inquiring, Nicholas asked, “But how does the groundhog know when winter is over and spring is here?”
Wow, thanks for the perfect lead-in. I couldn’t have planned a better transition myself.
So we talked about Punxsutawney Phil looking for his shadow. We talked about what makes a shadow. We talked about the seasons, particularly winter and spring.
Nicholas and I decided to make some groundhog cupcakes. Yes, I admit – I will look for any excuse to eat chocolate cake!
Nicholas helped me make a batch of chocolate cupcakes and he got the special job of licking the whisk when we were done.
Good job, little buddy!
After they cooled, we covered the cupcakes in vanilla frosting, cut a slit in the cupcake and scooped out a little bit of “dirt”, and inserted a groundhog. The groundhogs are made of Almond Joy, white chocolate chips for the eyes and teeth, mini chocolate chips for the ears and face, and pink gummy worm pieces for the nose.
Since Groundhog Day is all about shadows, we decided to do some experiments with to see how shadows might change depending on the time of day and location of the sun. I explained how shadows in the middle of the day are most accurate and how they get longer later in the afternoon because of the angle of the sun. We started our experiment at 12:30 and drew Nicholas’ shadow on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
Then we drew it again at 2:30 and again at 4:30. Each time, Nicholas was standing in the same spot with his arms out to his side. Nicholas said, “WOW!” when he saw how different his 4:30 shadow looked. You can’t even tell that it is a person and it is about three times as long as the 12:30 shadow.
During dinner, I had a small plate with three groundhog cupcakes sitting on the table. The groundhogs were just happy as could be watching us eat dinner.
However, as soon as Stuart finished eating dinner, I happened to look over at the plate and noticed that one of the groundhogs was gone. Stuart had a funny grin and mumbled something about the groundhog going back in his hole.
I had tons of chocolate cupcakes left over so I went ahead and decorated the whole batch and we’ll bring them to school with Nicholas in the morning for all of his classmates to enjoy.
Here’s our little groundhog army, all ready to go.