Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day activities

A groundhog poem we read together
Groundhog day seemed perfectly timed for our exploration into shadows. Our discussion today about the significance of groundhog's day created a lot of connections for the students about shadows and our previous thematic study on hibernation.

We made predictions about whether the groundhog would see his shadow or not today. Every one got an opportunity to place their prediction on our chart.
T.D thinks that the groundhog will see his shadow
J.A thinks that the groundhog won't see his shadow
A.R thinks the groundhog will see his shadow
T.S thinks the groundhog won't see his shadow
I asked each student the question on our chart, "Do you think the groundhog will see his shadow?" and they had to respond orally each time they came up to place their response. When K.W answered, he explained why he wanted the groundhog to not see his shadow. I had him repeat his response so I could record it--

The class have become experts at creating bar graphs together. It's a frequent method we use to count up votes and make decisions as a class, but I wanted to introduce another way to illustrate data. So today, we learned about creating tally marks (sticks). Each student came up to our chart to replace their post-it with a tally mark.
J.C makes a tally mark for his choice
After modeling the first couple of tally marks, the students easily got the hang of creating tally marks. At the end, we counted up the tally marks and I hade students come up to write the total for each. Nine students in the class predicted that the groundhog would see his shadow and eight predicted that he wouldn't--it was close! We talked about which was more/less. 
Our final count
I wanted the class to see what the actual result was so together, we watched a short clip of groundhog Phil and if he saw his shadow or not. We also looked at some photographs of groundhog Phil.

Groundhog Phil saw his shadow so it seems we'll be having six more weeks of winter. Following this, we talked about whether our own guesses/predictions were correct.
We created our own groundhogs along with their burrows, to demonstrate it popping out of his burrow! I didn't get any photos of the class completing activity-I had a lot of brown paint on my hands! The directions to the activity can be found here (I substituted paper cups for the toilet paper rolls) I do have some of the students holding them all ready to go home--

The students went home with their groundhogs today (some may need extra drying).

In my experience, I always found it difficult to find early childhood appropriate texts for groundhog's day but I have one I always go to and read in previous years -- 
Who Will See Their Shadows This Year? by Jerry Pallotta
The book not only explains groundhog's day in a simple manner, but it has great illustrations of a variety of other animal shadows! Tomorrow, we'll be using the overhead projector to see other animal shadows and possibly creating stories with the shadows. I was very much inspired by this teacher's activity. I'm excited to see what the class comes up with!

Reminder-tomorrow is also school spirit day so wear your TOAST tshirt if you have one or any TOAST apparel- could be a TOAST wristband too! Also, we'll be making more predictions tomorrow when we predict as a class who will win the superbowl (more practice with tally marks!).