Groundhog day is sort of a big deal in the town where I work because this happened here:
Do they license groundhogs in this state?
Groundhog Day was filmed here 20 years ago and the town celebrates this holiday in grand style - and I knew I had to bring my A game to Groundhog storytime.

One problem:
Every. single. Groundhog's Day story. is a flippin'. NOVEL.

Some books are just too long for use in storytimes - especially when your audience is two- and three-years-old. Don't get me wrong - you can get away with a longer story once in a while, but groundhog books? It seemed like they were ALL too long!

I made some adjustments and all in all, I think I did pretty well. :)

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello, Everybody'

Welcome: I really wow'ed the crowd with my groundhog knowledge. I asked the kids if they knew that groundhogs were also called whistlepigs and woodchucks - then told them that though they look like bears or beavers, groundhogs are actually closely related to squirrels! Groundhogs all make their homes in a very similar way - it a 'W' shape with two "rooms" and a "backdoor". Groundhogs go to sleep (hibernate!) for the winter and we watch for them waking up to tell us if winter will continue (for six more weeks) or if spring is coming early. A groundhog will peek out from his hole in early February - we say that if he sees his shadows, he'll duck back in and winter continues. If the groundhog stays up above ground, it's a sign that winter is over. (It was important to keep reiterating this as it tied in well with our craft.)


Punxsutawney Phyllis by Suzanna Leonard Hill
I actually only read this book to my drop-in storytime group. Because I don't do a craft with drop-ins, there is more time for reading, so I was able to work in two long stories (at the beginning and the end). Phyllis is a spunky little groundhog and a grand-niece of a very important fella - Punxsutawney Phil! When Phyllis gets it in her head that she'd make a *great* Punxsutawney Phyll, she has to overcome her family's narrow view that only a BOY can be that special groundhog.

Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox
This was the best story for length and it was very cute. I mean, look at the cover up there - a groundhog in pajamas? Uh, adorable! Groundhogs usually go to sleep in the fall and wake up in February, so they miss a lot - Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas. Our groundhog, however, is having trouble staying asleep. His alarm clock is set for February 2, so his friends try to help him get the rest he needs to kick off spring.

Ten Grouchy Groundhogs by Kathryn Heling
This simple rhyming story is more of a transition book; it helped bridge me to the song I used next. We visit a very crowded den of ten cooped up groundhogs and count them down and they shout, "Let me out! Let me out!" When only one is left, he decides to poke his head out and look - what does he find?

Song: 'Ten Little Groundhogs' ('Ten Little Indians')
One little, two little, three little groundhogs; (count 1,2,3 fingers)
Four little, five little, six little groundhogs; (count 4,5,6 fingers)
Seven little, eight little, nine little groundhogs; (count 7,8,9 fingers)
Ten little groundhogs sleeping underground. (lay your head down on your hands)

Ten little, nine little, eight little groundhogs; (countdown 10,9,8)
Seven little, six little, five little groundhogs; (countdown 7,6,5)
Four little, three little, two little groundhogs; (countdown 4,3,2)
One little groundhog pops up and looks around! (put your hands up like a begging dog and pop up!)

Song: 'If You're Happy & You Know It'
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

If you're happy and you know it, shout 'hooray!'(shout twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, shout 'hooray!'

If you're ready for a story, take a seat. (sing x2)
Clap your hands (clap twice), stomp your feet (stomp twice),
And make sure your hair is neat (smooth sides) -
If you're ready for a story, take a seat!
Good job!

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller
This is a cute, fun story, but at this point in the program, I couldn't read another one this long. So what I did here was I told the story with the illustrations. Groundhog has a sore throat and Dr. Owl tells him he must stay in bed for two days - but Groundhog Day is tomorrow! Groundhog gets an idea - he puts up a want ad at the Hidey Hole Cafe and soon, he has Mole, Eagle, Bear, and Squirrel lined up for interviews. When a strange animal arrives and claims she can do the job, Groundhog is forced to take a leap of faith - and a vacation!

Craft: Groundhog Holes
I found green paper cups at a party supply store - figured that it would simulate the ground that the groundhog is popping out of without requiring the kids to decorate the cup. I could see using white paper cups (no coating) and having the kids decorate those, though - maybe next time! I used an Exacto knife to cut slits into the bottom of the cup.

I used a bear diecut we have to make the upper half of the groundhog. A small brown pom-pom and a small square of white paper with a black line down the middle made a nose and teeth. Googly eyes topped off the look. We glued the groundhogs to tongue depressors and slipped those through the hole in the cup...

Voila! A groundhog puppet who can pop up and drop back down - and a big hit with the kids and parents alike. :)

Hope you had a very Happy Groundhog's Day!