Groundhog Day is one of those holidays that can sneak up on you. After all, who wants to remember that winter is still here and those cold days are going to hang on for a few more weeks. Plus, it falls on February 2, when you're probably busy getting ready for Valentine's Day, a holiday that at least brings candy. Shake off this attitude and do a few entertaining activities that celebrate Punxsutawney Phil emerging from his burrow to look for his shadow.
Preschoolers really don't have a concept of time, so they couldn't care less that when the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of cold wintery weather. They are interested in books though, and you can read some interesting stories to teach them more about the holiday. Try "Go to Sleep, Groundhog!" by Judy Cox. It's a story about a groundhog that can't sleep so he gets to experience all of the winter holidays, but then he falls asleep before he checks for his shadow. "Substitute Groundhog" by Pat Miller is a hilarious account of a groundhog who gets sick and can't check for his shadow. He interviews other animals to take his place instead.
Draw a picture of a groundhog on a piece of brown paper. If you lack drawing skills, find a picture of a groundhog on your computer and print it out. Have your preschooler cut it out and glue it to a wooden craft stick. While it dries, ask your child color a foam cup to look like a groundhog burrow. Put the stick inside the cup and poke it through the bottom. Your child can push the stick up to have the groundhog come out of his burrow to check for his shadow. Take this craft to the next level by making it larger. Cut the flaps off of a large cardboard box and let your child paint it to look like a burrow. While it dries, use a paper plate to make a groundhog mask for your preschooler. Cut eye holes, have your child color it brown and attach brown paper ears. Poke small holes on each side and tie stretchy elastic string through the holes. Put the mask on your child, have him get in the painted box and pretend to be a Punxsutawney Phil.
Grab a flashlight, head to your child's bedroom and turn off the lights. Close the curtains or hang a dark blanket over the window to make the room as dark as possible. Turn on the flashlight and show your child how to move his hand across it to make shadows on the wall. Hold small objects in front of the flashlight and see if your kiddo can guess what he's seeing. For a good laugh, switch and let him hold items in front so you can guess. Try making a few shadow puppets too. They might not look like animals, but you'll have a blast sharing the activity with your preschooler.
If you're close to an area where groundhogs live, take your little one to watch them in action. Don't get too close or they'll hide in their burrows. Plus, you probably don't want your child trying to touch one or turn it into a pet. Bring the world of groundhogs home with you. Use several clean sheets to create a burrow on your living room floor. Snuggle up with your child in the burrow and read some stories. Head outside for some shadow fun. Have your child stand still while you trace his shadow with sidewalk chalk. Let him strike a few funny poses and trace his shadow each time. Switch and let him capture your shadow with chalk.