It can be difficult to find a good middle school Groundhog Day lesson plan for students. I see a lot of crafts and picture books when I search for lessons. Groundhog Day is an interesting North American celebration for many people.
I think it is important that my students develop good background knowledge about a variety of topics. I use the Article of the Week format to help my students build their background knowledge. To help with this knowledge building, you can use this middle school Groundhog Day lesson plan that is focused on a non-fiction article. Students will learn about the history of Groundhog Day and its past and present traditions.
Groundhog Day Background Information
What is Groundhog Day, and Why is it Celebrated?
Groundhog Day originated as “Badger Day,” known by the Germans as the day when a badger, emerging from its den, can predict the coming weather based on whether or not it sees its shadow. The day was celebrated on February 2nd, which was originally the day marked as “Candlemas” by the Catholic religion.
The tradition goes that if the badger were to see its shadow as it emerged, it would go back into its den, and there would be 6 more weeks of winter. If it did not see its shadow, then there would be an early spring.
But why a badger, and when did the groundhog become the predictor? Well, in some places, a bear was initially used to predict the coming weather, and in others, badgers and hedgehogs were used.
In America, a groundhog (also known as a woodchuck) was used because they were extremely common and they hibernated.
While the tradition remains in various parts of the world, the groundhog isn’t actually very accurate when it comes to predicting an early spring. According to the Stormfax Weather Almanac, Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog in the United States, has been correct about 39% of the time. (Source)
Groundhog Day Lesson Ideas
In this lesson plan, students work on their pre and post-reading strategies by using graphic organizers and comprehension questions.
Middle School Groundhog Day Lesson Plan
- Have students complete a K-W-L graphic organizer about this holiday.
- Watch a background information video like Groundhog Day for Kids or Fun Facts About Groundhogs! – Groundhog Day – SciShow Kids. This will help students who struggle with reading comprehension activate their prior knowledge.
- Read the Groundhog Day comprehension article.
- Complete the comprehension questions.
- Complete the multiple-choice standardized test prep format questions (paper or self-grading Google Form options).
- Have students return to their K-W-L graphic organizer and complete the last column.
- In the next class period, have students complete a follow-up writing assignment. Depending on the grade level you may ask students to write a paragraph or an essay.
Want to purchase this lesson plan ready to print and go?
Groundhog Day Non-Fiction Article: This resource contains 1 non-fiction article and 3 reading activities to assist with reading comprehension, standardized test prep, and cross-curricular learning. It contains both PDF and digital formats.
- Teacher lesson plan
- Pre-reading K-W-L chart
- Non-fiction article (modified and regular text)
- Audio file (mp3) of each article
- 3 Post-reading activities: comprehension questions, grammar questions (2 options: paper and self-grading Google Forms), long answer writing response
- Individual PDFs of student pages to assist with online learning i.e. Google Classroom
- Google Slides formatted lessons for 1:1 schools
Additional Middle School Groundhog Day Lesson Plan Resources
If you need to be away around Valentine’s Day these sub plans are easy to leave for your substitute teacher.
If your school or local library has some of these picture books it would be fun to celebrate this day with a younger grade and have your students read them a book about Groundhog Day.
More ELA Resources
- 10 Tips for Making English Class Fun
- 10 Tips For Teaching Middle School Students
- February Lesson Plans for Middle School ELA