Spiders and other creepy crawlies have never been my favourite things however, my children have taken a real liking to spiders as they have spent time playing in nature and engaging with the beautiful world around them. Surprisingly, my children are teaching me that spiders are not so bad and are actually really interesting.
An interest in spiders started earlier this year when we read Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. This beautiful story captivated my children's imagination and their hearts as the unlikely friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider grew. After reading this story, we watched the movie Charlottes Web to see the story come alive. We even learnt different things about spiders and how they build their web from watching this movie.
Over the next few weeks, my children found different spiders around our garden. We talked about only observing spiders because some spiders are poisonous and we should never touch them...the "look but don't touch" approach. Plus, we don't want to disturb their web. Mother Natured has a great post that talks about teaching kids to be snake safe so I applied some of these suggestions with my children such as role playing of what to do if we saw a spider.
Sometime later, a discussion started about spider homes, their webs. My daughter wanted to make a web so using two sticks and some wool, we made a spiders web that we were able to use for play. I had purchased the Arachnid Clampack (spider figurines) from Mini Zoo when an interest in spiders first started. My daughter (4yrs) added the spiders and some leaves to her web as she played.
Meanwhile, my son (8yrs old) researched about spiders in order to find the answers to his questions about why spiders build webs, what they are used for and why are there different types of webs. He used our National Geographic book Australia's Most Dangerous Spiders to find his answers. This book has some pretty awesome pictures and some very interesting information.
To help identify spiders and their webs, I made these three-part cards for my children so they could learn their names, compare the different features of the spiders as well as learn what the spiders webs look like.
We talked about how sometimes spiders are not in their webs (some don't have webs either) and can be found hiding under leaves or branches in the garden. We had seen some spiders in our garden among the rocks so I felt it was important to talk about this. My daughter (4yrs) brought some leaves inside and role played with our spider figurines how they can hide from us in the garden.
We watched David Attenborough's documentary Life In The Undergrowth that talks about The Silk Spinners, spiders from all over the world. It also talked about the Red Back Spiders that we have here in Australia.
We had spent sometime visiting relatives so my children had a new garden to explore and of course, they found more spiders! We spent a few days watching one spider build a web, little bit by little bit. It was wonderful to watch my children's excitement every morning as they raced out to see what the web looked like and how much work the spider had done overnight.
Our learning about spiders continued with some Homemade Modeling Clay. I used this recipe from Paging Fun Mums! which we made together before my children explored it further. This turned into an opportunity to learn about the different parts of a spiders body.We also talked about why spiders are called arthropods and not insects.
There are some really great picture books that are perfect for young learners who are interested in spiders. Honey Bee Books has selected 6 Pictures Books about Spiders! that young learners would love to read.
Mother Natured also has a great collection of spider related learning activities for kids as well as some important information on Catching a Spider: Catch and release for kids if it is found inside your home. Some of Mother Natured activities include:
- How to Make A Spider Web Obstacle Course
- Spider Web Games and Activities
- Spider Deserts
- A Nature Crafted Spider Web
If you'd like to see more learning ideas about spiders and other animals, pop over to my Zoology pinterest board.