I have always been employed within religious private schools, so Halloween ? activities were pretty much off limits. Not a big deal, but I still wanted to do things that were at least a little bit “creepy.” It worked to my advantage that we taught on types of homes during the month of October. Owls have nests, bats live in caves and crevices and spiders weave their webs.
I was introduced to this fun lesson during a breakout session about science at one of the conferences I attended. Let me be completely honest though, I am terrified of spiders. Something a friend of mine said early on in his parenting journey stuck with me – children will model their response to things by how they’ve witnessed your reaction. Such an astounding thought. I decided that I wanted my students to be intrigued while learning, not afraid of whatever it was we were observing. Whatever I would encounter would call for my brave girl pants.
Our week of observation began with a spider hunt ? where we’d walk around the playground or outside perimeter of the school. Daddy Long-legs are pretty easy to come by and are non-aggressive enough to have “loose” in a classroom full of young children. Once we found and captured our guest (in a bug catcher), we would release “him” onto the previously constructed island.
The whole set up doesn’t require much. It consists of a sensory bucket partially filled with water, a coffee can/tub (or other form of container) full of sand/gravel and two sticks standing out of the sand about an inch apart. The water is important to remember; it’s what gives us the official island, making an escape impossible. Keep an eye on the spider for awhile after the initial release, it may unknowingly choose drowning over entrapment.
What takes place next is the best part. Once the spider realizes there is nowhere to go, it will survey the layout of the land and quickly begin spinning its web. Before the middle of the day has arrived, your students will have witnessed from start to finish, the perfect little spider home.
I only ever hosted our little guest for a week for a couple of reasons. The first, I was in a classroom that was used by other people during the evenings and on the weekends – it was at a church. Secondly, we didn’t have it’s food of choice and I wasn’t planning on providing it. Lastly, I wanted the observation to end full-circle by having the kids participate in releasing our friend back into the wild. As sad as they were to say goodbye, they were hopeful at what the future would hold for the eight-legged adventurer; obviously building a new home, finding a spouse and starting a spider family.