These FREE Groundhog Day activities for kids will help you explain Groundhog Day and its accuracy and make your own predictions. Perfect for preschool, kindergarten, and more.
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, so maybe I have a skewed vision of Groundhog Day. I mean the day, not the movie.
Groundhog Day is a big deal here, as the whole world looks to the little town of Punxsutawney, PA every February 2. Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather for decades. And we have his brother Gus, a famous TV commercial actor.
When is Groundhog Day?
Groundhog Day is every February 2. It’s when Punxsutawney Phil predicts whether the East coast will have six more weeks of winter or if spring is coming early.
The Origin of Groundhog Day
The concept of acknowledging Groundhog Day has Pennsylvania Dutch origins. The PA Dutch are not really Dutch, either. They have German ancestry. Germany, or “Deutschland,” became abbreviated to Dutch and led to the PA Germans being referred to as the PA Dutch.
The earliest mention of Groundhog Day is an entry on February 2, 1840. This occurred in Morgantown, PA which is about a half-hour from where I live. That region is known for having a large PA Dutch presence and many Amish and Mennonites.
Punxsutawney Phil – The Weather Predicting Groundhog
Punxsutawney Phil, who lives on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney Phil, is the “OG” weather-predicting groundhog. He’s been predicting the weather since 1886. He lives in a climate-controlled burrow, and you can actually visit him year-round.
If you want some entertainment, read through the FAQs on the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club site. While not everything is accurate, it’s fun to read. According to the site, there’s only been one Phil, as he drinks an “elixir of life” each summer, and he has a wife, Phylis, but no kids.
Groundhog Day Predictions
Many are unclear as to how Groundhog Day is supposed to work. First, you must be around a groundhog and his den/burrow at sunrise. That is why you see the TV crews up super early.
The Pennsylvania Dutch superstition states:
- if the groundhog comes out of its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, it will retreat to its den, and winter will persist for six more weeks; if it is sunny that morning–a longer winter
- if it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early; if it is cloudy that morning–an early spring
Is Groundhog Day Accurate?
Of course, we all know that this is just for fun. But how accurate is Punxsutawney Phil? Can he really predict the weather? At least here in PA, we have lots of crazy folklore and superstitions about caterpillars, fat squirrels, and the weather, to name a few.
One thing that has never made sense to me–aren’t both predictions really the same? If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter. February 2 plus 6 weeks=about March 16 or so.
The first day of spring is March 20. So isn’t he going to be right? If you use the ‘early spring’ prediction, it really stays the same.
So, in that regard, Groundhog Day is accurate because both results are basically the same.
Groundhog Day Statistics
And statistics will vary based on where you live. Here in Pennsylvania, we have four defined separate seasons. Albeit, climate change is making them less distinct. It’s in the 60s this week, as I write this post, and it’s supposed to be winter. But I digress.
But let’s talk about Punxsutawney Phil and how accurate he is.
Punxsutawney Phil and his accuracy are monitored by Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Club, which also cares for the animal.
Phil has predicted 103 forecasts for winter and just 17 for early spring. That means when he woke up and crawled out, it was sunny out 103 of those times. I guess facts are facts, but having a clear day in western PA that many times sounds doubtful to me. Winters here are typically cold and gray.
That being said, the National Geographic Society reports that Punxsutawney Phil is correct only 28% of the time. I could not find how they define success or what “an early spring” means. We have had March days in the 80s here (again, climate change!), but it doesn’t stick around. It’s always just an anomaly that doesn’t last more than a day or two.
Other Groundhog Predictions- Canada
While most turn to Pennsylvania and Punxatawney Phil for their Groundhog Day predictions, Phil isn’t the only groundhog predicting the weather.
Canada actually has a few weather-advising groundhogs, most notably Shubenacadie Sam from Novia Scotia and Wiarton Willy from Ontario. With his location in the Atlantic time zone, Shubenacadie Sam is actually the first to predict the weather each year, and Wiarton Willy holds the title of the only albino weather-predicting groundhog.
How Do You Explain Groundhog Day To Kids?
Groundhog Day is a fun “holiday” to celebrate with kids. The easiest way to explain it to them is to say that if the groundhog sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter, but if he doesn’t, spring is coming early.
Depending on their age, you can go into some of the other things I noted above, like how both predictions are essentially the same based on when spring officially begins in Pennsylvania.
It’s also fun to talk about it the day before and allow the kids the make predictions (maybe using the Groundhog Day worksheets for kids below) and then report back the next day. If you can’t catch the newscast live, you can usually find it online later in the day to watch together.
Groundhog Day Activities for Kids
Here are the free Groundhog Day activities for kids. These are adaptable for any age group. It’s not a holiday that needs a lot of time or discussion. You can review the history, and the accuracy and make predictions.
These worksheets might be fun to put on a bulletin board somewhere or keep for six weeks to see if they are accurate.
Have fun, and Happy Groundhog Day!