Today is Groundhog Day! It’s the day when groundhogs come up out of their holes in the ground, look around, and then either see their own shadow or miss it. What they’re really doing is sniffing around for a snack. But we pretend that if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow (because it’s cloudy), it means spring weather will come early; if he does see his shadow, it means winter weather will last another 6 weeks. There are many famous groundhogs, including Queen Charlotte, Dover Doug, and Chuckles. But the one who really matters is Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania. Many folks plan their lives around his decision — or at least their vacations.
Wee ones: Groundhogs have 4 legs. Get down on your hands and knees like a groundhog. Now step forward with your left hand, then with your right hand.
Little kids: If the groundhog takes 2 seconds to pop out, 3 more seconds to notice his shadow, and 2 more seconds to dive back into his hole, how many seconds did that all take? Bonus: How many legs do Queen Charlotte, Dover Doug and Chuckles have together?
Big kids: If today it’s 56 degrees for Smith Lake Jake in Alabama, but just 19 degrees for Jimmy the Groundhog in Wisconsin, how many degrees chillier is Jimmy? Bonus: What date actually falls 6 weeks from February 2? (You can use this year’s February, which has only 28 days.)
Wee ones: “Walk” with your left hand, then with your right!
Little kids: 7 seconds. Bonus: 12 legs.
Big kids: 37 degrees cooler. Bonus: March 16. It’s 6 x 7 days later, or 42 days. Counting 26 more days takes us to February 28, then we count another 16 into March.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.