“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
It’s hard to believe January, 2021, with Jack Frost, is blowing away on Sunday and Feb. 1 arrives on Monday. As a teacher, I always look forward to Feb. 2.
Yes, this is Groundhog’s Day. Groundhog’s Day is celebrated every year on Feb. 2. The official groundhog lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. His name is Punxsutawney Phil. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow (the day is bright and sunny) there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow (the day is overcast), there will be an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob-in front of thousands of followers from all over the world to predict the weather for the rest of the season.
One thing young children love to do is be amateur meteorologists. Have children as young as three look outside and to predict what they think the weather will be like that day. This can make for early-morning-conversational learning and using appropriate thinking skills as children take what they have learned to decide what clothes they need to wear that day or do I need an umbrella?
Young children at home and in the classroom love to be weather helpers. They love to look outside and draw what the weather looks like. Children love to study the different shapes of clouds, such as cumulus which look like cotton candy, cirrus clouds which look feathery and stratus clouds which are black and gray. An all time favorite for young children is to make out shapes out of clouds. You would be surprised at how creative your little one is.
Young children love to observe and learn about different kinds of precipitation of rain, sleet, snow and hail. Children love to do experiments with evaporation by wetting a surface like a blackboard and watch the water disappear. They wonder where the water goes. This gives the parents the opportunity to talk about the water cycle in which water drops evaporate in the air and go up into clouds to make different forms of evaporation, which falls back to the earth.
Outside thermometers are valuable teaching tools of how cold or hot it is in degrees.
Going back to our groundhogs, you can explain hibernation. Ask your young child what they like to do when winter comes and weather becomes really cold? We go on with our business despite how cold it is outside, but many animals choose to stay home and sleep through the entire season. We call this hibernation. Bears, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, bats, snakes, etc. all hibernate.
We all need an incentive to go outside and enjoy God’s World when it is so very cold. Too, this is an activity that we truly can enjoy just looking out our windows. This winter activity that includes nature is “The Greater Backyard Bird Count” from Feb. 12-15. This is so much fun and educational and includes the whole family. This is a wonderful intergenerational activity to have with grandparents. Too, the world comes to our doors because the world engages in this annual activity in bird watching.
Click on to GBBC (Greater Backyard bird Count) site. This is a free, exciting, fun event so you just register and sign in to engage and broaden your understanding of the bird populations. Instructions are very clear on how to get started. Participating bird watchers are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes or as long as they wish on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online and other options listed on GBBC for entering your bird lists.
Beginning bird watchers and seasoned bird watchers can participate from their home, backyard or anywhere in the world. The checklists that are submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society to learn more about how birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment we share.
I would like to share this verse from the Bible: Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow or reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
This is a Bible truth that you can teach your young children as you begin the bird count.
Infants and toddlers are very observant of their surroundings. Parents of younger children can hang an inexpensive bird feeder outside of a window where they can observe birds coming and going to the feeder. Young children scream with joy and delight when they observe birds coming and going to feed.
With your younger children and older children you can buy an inexpensive bird guide or check out different books on birds from the library. If the weather is nice, you can take your children to a park, a wide open space or a pond or lake. Birds with colors such as Blue Jays, Cardinals and Green Mallards are ones that your child can quickly see and identify them by color and sounds.
Readers let’s be on the look out to see if the Ground Hog sees his shadow this coming Tuesday, Feb. 2 and too start to find those binoculars, find some simple bird feeders and happy bird watching! Hey, Classroom Observer, will be engaging in these fun activities as well!
Beth Pinyerd, Classroom Observer