Groundhog Day Videos for Elementary


Groundhog Day Videos for Elementary

If you follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, then you know just how much I love bringing the holidays and seasons into my classroom to engage my upper elementary students.

The key to using any holiday or season to motivate students is to tie it together with meaningful learning tasks. Creating a craft is not enough. Instead, have students utilize their close reading skills while they read a nonfiction article or watch a video about the focus topic. Go a step further and have students compare what they have read with what they watched. You can easily do this with just a piece of paper. Have students create a Venn diagram and then take notes as they read and watch!

I also love using more structured activities focused around holidays to tie together writing standards. During the week of Groundhog Day, our classroom turns into a courthouse while my students debate over which should happen: an early spring or a longer winter. This activity engages students, sharpens their writing and speaking skills, and build excitement for the big day on whether Mr. Groundhog will see his shadow or not!

No matter how you involve your students in learning about Groundhog Day this year, these FREE Groundhog Day videos will inspire, educate, and motivate your students to learn more about popular holidays. Be sure to grab a set of note-taking graphic organizers for free at the bottom of this post. These are perfect to help your students take notes as they watch these educational videos.

Kindly Note: As with any video, website, or resource that you bring into your classroom, be sure to preview each video before sharing it with your class to make sure that they are appropriate for your cohort of students.

Groundhog Day Videos for Elementary

SciShow: Groundhog Day (3 minutes 40 seconds)

I love the SciShow channel! I love that the videos are short, chock full of information, and highly engaging for students. This one about Groundhogs Day (halfway point of winter) did not disappoint! The story of Groundhog Day is talked about quickly, but the majority of this video focuses on groundhogs and the rodent family. High interest for sure!

Groundhog day video for kids

SciShow: Hibernation (3 minutes 46 seconds)

Another SciShow channel for the win! This episode focuses on hibernation and how groundhogs hibernate for the winter. This quick video is the perfect follow up to the Groundhog Day video by the SciShow team. Another must-watch. 

learn about groundhog day free video

National Geographic: Getting to Know a Groundhog (about 3 minutes)

This video follows a zookeeper as she learns how to take care of a baby groundhog named Priscilla. This is set in an animal sanctuary in Maryland. Students will learn where groundhogs like to live and what they like to eat. This is a fun, short video that will engage students.

history of groundhog day

All About Groundhogs (about 6 minutes)

This video gives information about the life of a groundhog! It tells about its habitat, what it eats, and its predators. With bright images and clear, easy to follow narration make this a must-watch this February. I love this video also as an introduction to animal report projects, too!  

upper elementary groundhog information

History of Groundhog Day (5 minutes 30 seconds)

This video tells the history and traditions of Groundhog Day and how it began. Students will learn about the famous town of Punxsatuny. The last few minutes gives fun facts about groundhogs, too.

Groundhog Day song for kids

Jack Hartmann Music Video (2 minutes 7 seconds)

If you teach young kids, you know how much they love Jack Hartmann. This video is perfect for students in K-3. It is fun and informative without being too silly. This is a fun one to watch to kick off or wrap up lessons about groundhogs and Groundhog Day.

Other notable videoes:

free print and digital nonfiction activity for kids

Print and Digital Nonfiction Note Taking Pages

Grab print AND digital FREE pages below to encourage note-taking from your students while they watch these videos. Use students' notes to engage in class discussions about groundhogs, the history of Groundhog Day, and hibernation.

No matter how you decide to celebrate Groundhog Day (and other February holidays) in your classroom, try including these videos. Need more website ideas to use with your students? Search through these websites.  Have students take notes, summarize, discuss, or just enjoy the information they are learning through different forms of media. Happy Groundhog Day!

Love this post? Read this post about Valentine's Day in your classroom.

You might be interested in:

groundhog day reading comprehension activity

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groundhog day writing and debate activity

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groundhog day activities for upper elementary


Simple Tips for Starting Book Talks in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Simple Tips for Starting Book Talks in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Looking for a high-interest, simple, yet meaningful way to try something new in your classroom AND help students grow as readers? Try having book talks!

There is nothing more powerful to help turn students into readers, than student to student book recommendations!

As teachers, we are always reading and recommending books to our students. We organize our library, display popular books, and share read-aloud books to hook our students. But what kids rely on most of all when it comes to picking up a book to read, is a recommendation from a peer.

This is because reading is contagious!

We all know those books and series. The ones that the kids flock to! Each year it may be a new series, but once one book is read by one student or during a read aloud, you can bet that all kids will want to read that book, that series, and more from "that author" that all the kids are talking about!

One way to encourage positive and meaningful discourse about high-quality books is to start using book talks in your classroom.  Book talks are not structured like a book report. The goal of a book talk is to get others excited to read the book that is being shared. The excitement that a student has about a book or series will engage and interest readers of all levels in your classroom.

So what is a book talk?

A book talk is a structured time in your day for students to share and talk about the books that they are reading. Through the students' short oral presentation, they are trying to sell or persuade their peers to read the book. This means that the students are combining their reading, opinion, and persuasive skills in one short assignment. Yay! #teacherwin

Simple Tips for Starting Book Talks in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Benefits of Book Talks

By bringing books talks into your classroom you are encouraging your students to:

  • Read a variety of books, genres, and authors throughout the year
  • Recommend books to friends
  • Engage in meaningful discourse about books
  • Practice persuasive writing skills
  • Increase speaking and listening skills
  • Participate in group discussions regularly and appropriately
  • Prepare, practice, and deliver a presentation

In addition, students have fun!  They really get into our weekly book talks and can not wait to hear what their peers have to share. Over the many years that I have used weekly book talks, I have seen friendships blossom and nonreaders love books! There are so many benefits to include book talks into your weekly plans.

The How-To of Book Talks

There is no right or wrong way for students to give a book talk! I love using templates so that students can stay on track, focused, and have a guide of what to talk about, especially when they are first beginning to give a book talk. 

While the templates I use are mostly open-ended to allow students to bring up the positive points of the book, the prompts do help all readers stay focused, especially struggling readers and shy students. I use different templates for fiction, nonfiction, and series books.

digital book talk templates for upper elementary

When first introducing book talks in my classroom I make sure to explain what a book talk is, what should be included, and what should NOT be included. I also model how to give a book talk with a book that we have already read together as a class. We set the timer to decide on how long our class book talks should be.

I have students follow these guidelines when giving their own book talks:

  • Select a book that you have finished reading and loved.
  • Be sure to know a lot about the book so that you can recommend it to a classmate.
  • Complete a book talk page that includes the title, author, and book genre.
  • Follow specific prompts that I have included in my template page to keep them focused.
  • Include book-specific information about the characters, favorite events, memorable parts, problems the characters faced, facts learned in a NF book, repeated themes in series or books by the same author.
  • Share a favorite quote from the book.
  • Go beyond the words and share adjectives to describe the setting, plot, or favorite characters.
  • Explain WHY your classmates should read the book.
  • Tell about the book to get others HOOKED, but do NOT give away too much or share the ending in any way.

We also talk about how to present and keep their audience engaged. I share these tips:

  • Make eye contact.
  • Speak with a clear and slow voice.
  • Be enthusiastic to "sell the book."
  • Refer to notes or template used, but do not read word for word.
  • Answer any questions your audience may have following your presentation.

Excited to try out book talks in your classroom? Grab the templates I use HERE or use the tips below to create your own templates for your students to use.

Create your own template with these tips:

  • Think about a skill or strategy you want to reinforce (like character traits)
  • What type of books are students presenting on (fiction, NF, series)
  • What questions  you want them to answer (Why are you recommending this book?)

Organizing a Book Talk Schedule

You might be thinking that this is just one more thing to fit in your day! I get it and hear you! However, the benefits of using book talks in your classroom are worth the time that you use to teach students how to hold a book and to actually hold book talks!

When starting book talks, you can assign book talks for all students to complete once a month or allow students to volunteer and sign up to share. Spread the presentations out throughout the month or have a few students share once a week. I have always used Fridays as our book talk day. Having one consistent day of the week for book talks allows students to prepare ahead of time and it also gives your students something to look forward to each week!

Not sure when to fit book talks in? Try these times:

  • following morning work or morning meeting
  • during snack
  • at the end of the day
  • to kick-off or wrap up your reading block

If you are sharing during classroom time, you can share the students' completed slides in front of the class and invite that student to come to the front of the room to share. If you are sharing virtually via ZOOM or another platform, have students share their completed work with you and then you can share your screen while allowing only the presenter to speak.

When I think of book talks in my classroom, I think of this powerful quote about reading. Nothing brings students more joy about books than a recommendation from a friend and talking about books with their peers. Book talks truly allow more time to introduce children to quality books that they will want to read.

teacher quote about reading

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Simple Tips for Starting Book Talks in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Are you looking for engaging ways to get students talking in meaningful ways about the books that they are reading? These digital book talks are perfect for in-class learning and remote learning, too!

book talk templates for classroom or virtual learning

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)



How To Incorporate Open Ended Math Problems

 How To Incorporate Open Ended Math Problems

I love using open-ended math questions and problems in my classroom. Not only are these types of problems engaging and fun for students, but there many benefits to incorporating open-ended problems into your daily classroom routine.

Simply put, open-ended math problems are problems that have more than one correct answer. By providing students with opportunities that allow more than one answer you not only find an increase in class participation, but you will also find students are more engaged!  Grab a set of FREE digital skill-based open-ended activities at the bottom of this post.

When students engage in math activities that are open-ended they:

Sounds amazing, right? It gets better! When you present students with open-ended math problems you are making it easy for all students to get involved. I like to tell students to "Make it Happen" using the skills that they have. This allows them to draw on what they already know to answer a question or problem that they don't know.  Students solve open-ended math problems using the skills that they already have, making it a natural way to differentiate in the classroom.  

How To Incorporate Open Ended Math Problems

Here is an example.

If you present students with a difference of 114, and ask them to create a matching subtraction number sentence, not only will you potentially get a different answer from each and every student, but you will get answers that represent students' individual abilities. A struggling student might respond with 115-1 while students at a higher level might respond with 200-86, and going further other students might challenge themselves to start at 1,000 and figure out how to get down to 114. 

digital open ended math activities


The real magic happens in the sharing of solutions!

Students are much more engaged in hearing all of the different possible solutions than hearing a "one right way" response to a problem that they might not have been able to solve in the first place. This means that mathematical discourse is higher and step by step solutions are shared. 

Over time, students will begin to challenge themselves and try to come up with more than one way to solve a problem.

I love to begin using open-ended activities by using skill practice activities. It is a great way to engage students of all levels with no prep. They are also easy to incorporate as practice all year long, no matter what math unit of study you are currently teaching.

My favorite skill-based open-ended activities focus on:

Once students get the hang of open-ended math activities with skills that they are familiar with, then it is time to get students engaged in open-ended math problem-solving tasks! Grab a set of FREE digital skill-based open-ended activities at the bottom of this post.

free digital math open ended activities upper elementary

When to incorporate open-ended math problems:

There is no right or wrong way or time during the day to incorporate open-ended math activities. Not sure how to fit in your day? Try one of these ideas:

  • Daily Math Problem of the Day: post it in the morning and discuss it during math
  • Math Chat or Warm Up: whole class activity before math begins
  • Math Centers or Rotations
  • Remote Learning (or in class) Independent Activity
  • Morning Work/Bell Ringer
  • Small-Group Instruction
  • Five-minute filler: use those extra few minutes throughout the day to solve an open ended math problem

If you are still having a hard time finding the time to fit it in, start with one day of the week. Make it a goal to present students with one problem each week. The more students solve them, the more excited they will be to solve more, and the easier it will be for you to fit open-ended problems into your daily routine. 

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How To Incorporate Open Ended Math Problems

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