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Groundhog Day lessons for your homeschool

Where is my shadow?
Where is my shadow?
Courtesy of Super Stock Images

Groundhog Day, celebrated February 2, might seem like a trivial event on the calendar, but it can be a wonderful reason for digging into some history and science with your homeschooled children. Even if you tend to shy away from ideas that require some imagination, Groundhog Day can bring fun to your classroom at home.

First of all, go with it. Embrace the spirit of predicting. Create a chart or even just take a piece of paper and have family members sign it with their predictions. Don't stop with the topic of weather. Predict when Dad will arrive home from work, down to the second. Wager a guess as to when then next blue car will pass your home. These are not activities of rocket-scientists, but they do open up conversations about educated guesses and hypotheses. Who will predict Dad will arrive at 8:00 pm when he usually comes through the door around 5:00? We use our past experiences to predict future outcomes.

Have fun with younger children and the science of shadows. If there is no sun in your backyard, use a flashlight to demonstrate how the angle from which the light source comes determines the length of the shadow. Use the Shadow Length Calculator to give accurate, personalized measurements.

Don't forget to discuss with your kids the history of Groundhog Day, which goes back hundreds of years. Long before Punxutawney Phil arrived in our hearts, people celebrated Candlemas Day where clergy would hold celebrations blessing candles, and the weather on that day was thought to foreshadow future weather patterns. People brought this tradition to American settlements and over time it transformed into our own Groundhog Day.

Celebrate with predictions, the science of shadows, and the long-lived traditions that help influence our heritages. Groundhog Day activities can help give your homeschool day a fun boost, while encouraging learning, a great combination.