Woodchucks Under the Porch
Woodchucks chuck wood and groundhogs determine the coming of spring. They eat your garden, dig holes under the porch but look adorable when they are first born and start to venture out of their dens.
Watching the woodchuck babies venturing out from under the porch inspired us to study these cute little rodents. So don't just hibernate, pop your head up and find out about woodchucks.
You will find dozens of ideas for learning centers, Word Walls, games, activities and literacy bags. Sharpen your claws and dig into learning...
Woodchucks Live Under Our Porch
We have a family of Woodchucks living under our porch. There is a big fat papa Woodchuck, a middle sized Mama Woodchuck and four wee little baby Woodchucks.
I believe there are Uncles, Aunts and cousins living under the barn, chicken coop and woodshed.
The babies are adorable and are not shy at all. I have gone right up to them and looked them right in the eye, observing their shiny noses and round furry bodies.
Woodchucks are also known as groundhogs and have quite the reputation for weather divination in February. It's a fun holiday to celebrate!
Watch the Baby Woodchucks
What is it?
Language Arts Lessons with a Woodchuck Theme
The Adventures of Johnny Chuck
I like to read a chapter book to the children after lunch recess . These books have very short chapters of one to two pages and I haven't found a child yet that doesn't love them. Allowing each of the children to pick a stuffed animal to snuggle with as they sit or lie on the rug helps them to stay quiet and focus on the story.
Thornton Burgess was a naturalist who wrote stories about all the Animals of the North American Woodlands.
Despite the fact that the animals are named and wear clothing, the animals are basically true to their animal ways. In the Adventures of Reddy Fox, for example, Reddy hunts and eats chickens from Farmer Brown's Chicken House.
Reddy has to watch out for Bowser the Hound.Chickens may be killed and eaten because no chickens are characters nor do any have names.
In The Adventures of Johnny Chuck, spring has arrived and Johnny Chuck goes wandering, gets in a fight, and sets up housekeeping with Polly Chuck. Will there be baby woodchucks soon?
Second Graders and up should be able to read these books easily on their own and they are so inexpensive that I suggest that you get several copies for the children to read together.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck? If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He'd chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Tongue Twister and Woodchucks
Write ""How much wood..." on a poster board and laminate it. Read and recite it often with your students until they know it by heart.
-1. Use highlighter tape to highlight words or letters that are repeated.
-2. Try changing words such as logs instead of wood. How does it change the rhythm of the tongue twister?
-3. Try changing animals. What about groundhog instead of woodchuck?
Woodchucks for Beginning Readers
Puppets in the Reading Nook
A Stuffed Woodchuck Puppet would be a great addition to your Reading Nook.
Over the years I have collected quite a few stuffed woodchucks.We keep them in a tall round laundry basket that we call the Woodchuck Hole.
The children use them in many different activities described below.
Which Woodchuck Will Go? - A Beginning Reading Game
Find out which woodchuck will be the one to go all the way to the end of the tunnel and check for its shadow.
-Use the tiles on the floor, two stuffed woodchucks and a deck of "Who Will Go?" cards.
-To make the cards write the following sentences on 2 or 3 cards each. Laminating the cards will make them last longer.
I will go.
You will go.
We will go.
I will not go.
-Shuffle and divide the deck of cards evenly.
-Children take turns drawing a card, facing the other person and reading the card.
-Then the child moves his or her woodchuck according to the sentence.
The first woodchuck to get all the way across the floor is the one to see its shadow.
Woodchucks All Around
Poem by Evelyn Saenz
Woodchucks in the garden,
Eating all our food.
Woodchucks in the flower beds.
Do you think that's good?
Woodchucks by the back porch.
Woodchucks in the ground.
Woodchucks by the barn door.
Woodchucks all around.
Groundhog Themed Math
Woodchuck Tunnels, Burrows and Holes - How deep can a woodchuck dig when a woodchuck digs its hole?
These furry, grizzled, brown to gray mammals have long curved claws that are ideal for digging and climbing.
The Woodchuck's Tunnels can be up to 5 feet deep or about 3 Woodchuck Units deep.
To visualize how deep a woodchuck's tunnel really is try to find places that are actually 3 Woodchuck Units deep.
1. Window ledge to the ground
2. Top to the bottom of the slide
3. Reading Loft to the floor
Woodchucks are Great at Digging
Woodchuck Sensory Table
Garden tools imitate long curved woodchuck claws. Try digging in the playground or garden.
Children will discover about the structure of the dirt, how grass roots help to hold the soil together, and conservation of matter. (The dirt they dig out of the hole must go somewhere.)
1. Fill a Rice Table half full of dirt.
2. Add grass seed or birdseed and sprinkle with water.
3. Cover and allow the grass to grow and get thick.
4. Give the children miniature garden tools to try to dig tunnels like woodchucks.
You may need to limit the area or have several tubs of grass growing to provide enough untouched ground for all of the children.
Groundhog Day! is about the traditions that led to the big celebration now held each year on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, PA.
Gail Gibbons includes information about the groundhog's diet, habitat, burrows, and newborns kits and looks.
She also explains how past cultures depended on hibernating animals to help them determine the arrival of spring.
"If a groundhog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter," is explained in terms that are perfect for a child's level of understanding.
The Woodchuck is a True Sleeping Beauty - Woodchuck Hibernation
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
What's happening down in the burrow?
Where do woodchucks sleep in the winter?
Groundhogs go into a deep sleep called hibernation. Their bodies slow down and their body temperature drops to just a few degrees above freezing.
Because their sleeping den, called the hibernaculum, is below frost line in the deepest portion of the burrow their body temperature goes down to as low as 39-40 degrees F. This is about the same temperature as the inside of a refrigerator.
Woodchucks are one of the few mammals that enter into true hibernation.Woodchucks begin their hibernation in mid-November, and wake up in late February.
During the beginning months of school when the woodchucks are actively preparing for winter we read Every Autumn Comes the Bear and Blueberries for Sal. We read the couple of chapters of The Hobbit to get a feel for how the woodchuck may feel in his burrow.
In October we read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and in mid-November we read the story of Sleeping Beauty
What do Woodchucks dream about?
Writing about Woodchucks
You might post an illustration such as this one by Anna Myers to start brainstorming ideas for writing stories about woodchucks.
Ms. Myers wrote and tells us that:
The woodchuck was a lot of fun to draw, it went to illustrate a story about a woodchuck who lived in the author's backyard. This particular woodchuck is dreaming about Bok-Choy.
What's the wake-up call?
Theories abound from the amount of daylight to hormones but in any case the woodchuck wakes up and we humans like to celebrate.
Fictional Tale of a Hibernating Groundhog
Time to Wake Up the Groundhog!
In February, reread the books that you read in November. Make a list of all the things that the Woodchuck missed in your class while he/she was sleeping. Notice how much more the children can read than back in the fall.
Write weekly sentences on the woodchuck calendar about what the Woodchuck is doing now that he or she is awake. ie: "The woodchuck wakes up." "The woodchuck nibbles on the tulips." Etc.
Where does a Woodchuck Live?
Woodchucks prefer to live in open farmland and surrounding wooded areas.
Reading books by Thornton Burgess such as The Adventures of Johnny Chuck or Old Mother Westwind will help children get a feel for the Woodchuck's habitat and neighbors.
Every day after lunch recess we have story hour where the children pick out a stuffed animal to snuggle with, curl up on the rug and listen to a chapter book.
Groundhog Bulletin Board
Make a bulletin board with a meadow scene.
You might add a title such as Woodchucks are Vegetarians or I'm a Salad Lover
Make a groundhog peaking out of its hole looking for something to eat.
As you read about woodchucks you can add vegetation to the bulletin board so that your woodchuck has plenty to eat.
In the Art Center children can draw and cut out pictures of woodchuck food and then attach them to the bulletin board.
You might provide seed catalogs for ideas.
By adding labels to the Woodchuck Habitat scene you turn it into a Word Wall.
Woodchucks gnaw on Ornamental shrubs and fruit trees. They eat garden vegetables and other vegetation and are considered a pest by most farmers and gardeners.
What do woodchucks eat?
What's for dinner?
Photo Credit: Woodchuck Eating Grass on Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo Credit: Dandelion on Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo Credit: Clover on Flickr, Creative Commons.
Groundhogs gorge themselves on green plants, such as dandelion greens, clover, and grasses.
They also find nearby garden vegetables absolutely delicious.
Woodchucks binge and purposefully put on weight in the summer, reaching their maximum mass in late August.
They become lethargic or tired and prepare for hibernation in October.
By February, hibernating woodchucks have lost as much as half their body weight.
In Gopher It! a scattered pile of Food Cards are put into a pile in the center of the table to form the Garden.
On their turn, players pick any card out of the Garden and pick as long as they wish, up to 4 cards, unless they pick the same type of Food Card twice in a row.
This game encourages basic addition skills, introduces simple strategy, social interaction play, and endless combinations of replay ability.
I used a fine-tipped permanent marker to write the words for the vegetables on the cards.
Woodchucks, being rodents, have front teeth that continuously grow throughout their lives.
As the teeth grow, they are naturally worn down when the animal gnaws on wood and other objects.
If you have a rabbit, hamster or mice in the classroom you may observe them chewing on wood.
Maybe you could go on a field trip to a beaver pond to see where beavers have gnawed on trees to cut them down.
To understand how Woodchuck teeth get worn down:
1. Put out some Woodchuck Teeth (Small pieces of balsa wood)
2. Trees or Logs (Sandpaper tubes that slip over wooden dowels for bird perches.)
3. Children use the teeth to gnaw at the logs.
4. Children could also file their own fingernails.
To learn more about rodent teeth you might like to read about Snaggletooth Stormy , a woodchuck from the Brookfield Zoo that has had to have braces.
Have several skulls with teeth for the students to examine.
The children can observe the differences between rodent teeth and the teeth of other mammals.
Various types of teeth can also be seen and compared by looking at animal x-rays. (See below)
Rodent Teeth Theater
Set up a Computer on your Science Table near the animal skulls and let the children watch a video of a rat going to an orthodontist.
Social Studies and Groundhogs
Woodchuck Geography - Where in the world would you find a Woodchuck?
Woodchucks are found throughout virtually the entire eastern United States and much of Canada.
In the puzzle center put puzzle maps of the United States, Canada and North America as well as a stack of blank maps of North America with each of the states and provinces are provided.
After coloring the Woodchuck range, which is outlined for them, the children put a Fingerprint Woodchuck on each state or province where Woodchucks live.
NOTE: We learned how to make Fingerprint Woodchucks after reading Ed Emberley's Thumbprint book. We used them to mark the states and provinces where woodchucks can be found.
PE Class for Little Woodchucks
Dig Some Holes and Run Around
The primary Woodchuck burrow entrance is usually marked by a large mound of earth, although secondary entrances - dug from underground - may be virtually unnoticeable.
These woodchuck entrances pose a real tripping injury threat to horses, riders and walkers alike.
1. Make a primary Woodchuck burrow entrance in the sandbox by digging a big hole with a huge pile of sand around it.
2. Lay a series of old tires down on the playground and try to run through them to see how difficult it can be for horses, riders and walkers.
Arts and Crafts with a Woodchuck Theme
Woodchuck Paper Doll - Groundhog Paper Doll
Woodchuck Coloring Pages
- Groundhog Day Crafts, Worksheets and Printable Books - EnchantedLearning.com
Groundhog Day Activities and Crafts: Groundhog Day is celebrated in the USA on February 2nd. Crafts for kids. Kindergarten, preschool, and elementary school crafts. Make wonderful, simple crafts about groundhogs using things found around the house.
- Woodchuck Coloring Page
Color the woodchuck.
- Groundhog Day Bookmarks
Groundhog Day bookmarks can be laminated and used to help children keep their places while they are reading.
Gregory Groundhog always feels braver when his best pal, his shadow, accompanies him.
On the day before Groundhog Day, Gregory suggests that he and Shadow go find something to eat. "Sure... I'm right behind you," quips his amorphous companion, whom Gregory inadvertently leaves outdoors when he returns to his burrow.
I like to read this book with Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch. We make a Venn Graph to compare the two books.
NOTE: A portion of the author royalties from this title will go to the Don and Lydia Freeman Research Fund to support psychological research concerning children afflicted with cancer.
Gregory's Shadow was posthumously published by Don Freeman, the creator of Corduroy.
Groundhog's Day Divination
Why is February 2 Groundhog Day?
Every year on February 2 the groundhogs come out of their holes and check their shadows. What does it mean?
There is an Old Wife's Tale that says that groundhogs or woodchucks come up out of their holes to check the weather to see whether it is time for them to come out of hibernation.
There was a time when people needed to guess when spring would arrive in order to begin the planting season. They looked for signs in nature to let them know when that would happen. One of those signs is when the groundhogs begin to emerge from their dens.
We celebrate Feb. 2 because it reminds us that spring is just around the corner. It seems to help when we get those big, 2 or 3 foot snowstorms in the middle and end of winter.
If a Groundhog sees his shadow, what does it mean?
There will be six more weeks of winter.
What's so special about Feb. 2?
February 2 or Groundhog Day lies about halfway between the winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March.
That makes it a "cross-quarter" day.
In some cultures it is celebrated as the mid point of winter. (Remember Shakespeare's Mid-Summer Night's Dream?)
About that time, near the second week of February, that many groundhogs end their hibernation anyway.
Will the Groundhog see his Shadow?
How many more weeks of winter?
Groundhog's Day in Vermont
If the groundhog sees his shadow there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't winter will last for another month and a half.
Vermonters, affectionately known as Woodchucks, have a dry sense of humor, especially when it comes to their notoriously long winters.
Go Out and Chuck Some Wood!
Woodchucks Get Some Exercise
Photo Credit: Woodpile on by Chmee2 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Go out to the playground with a stack of logs and try chucking wood.
It is amazing how much exercise you can get from chucking wood. Try moving a whole woodpile.
- Line the kids up and move the wood a piece at a time bucket brigade style.
- Then form a line the other way and take turns chucking wood from one pile to the other.
- Finally stack all the wood back into a pile to keep it dry for winter.
NOTE: Take turns and watch out for splinters!
Woodchucks for Literacy Bags - Soft, Cuddly, Stuffed Groundhogs
You can find lots of unique items to add to your Literacy Bags at yard sales, flea markets and on eBay. Look for Groundhog Shadow Puppets, Stuffed Woodchucks or other Groundhog's Day games and activities.
Include a couple of books about woodchucks. I like to include a fiction as well as a non-fiction book. Also include a game and a plush animal.
You can ask your children to name your stuffed animal. We named ours Gregory. The children love taking Gregory home for the weekend. They read to him, play games with him, sleep with him, take him wherever they go. Then they write about his adventures in his diary which is also included in the literacy bag.
When we get back together, we read all about Gregory's adventures.
Congratulations Woodchucks! - The Woodchucks just won The Purple Star Award!
Woodchuck Unit Study Award
Lenses on Squidoo received the Purple Star Awards as having been judged one of the very best pages on Squidoo. The woodchucks would like to thank the Purple Star Committee for such a high honor.
This was one of the very first webpages on Squidoo to have received the Purple Star. Sadly, with the demise of Squidoo, this unit study has lost many of its links and images. With time I hope to fill it out with more of the fun, hands-on activities and ideas that you expect in unit study.