Itsy bitsy spiders- lessons in zoology and nature

We have been fortunate to stay in places with enough greenery. This has always ensured that we have plenty of live specimens to study, mostly ants and spiders. The latter was one of the first interests V had, primarily because of their multiple limbs.

What can we learn from spiders?

Soon, I stopped dusting off spiders immediately, and we got to see a small web in our balcony. The fact that the web practically came out of nowhere was nothing less than magic to us. As always, we researched ( I highly recommend the I wonder why book) and learnt that it is mainly to catch its’s food. Below are some play ideas to take our learning further.

SENSORY PLAY

Bugs sensory play- Did you know spiders are not insects?

We love using transparent slime, rainbow rice, black urad and cooked spaghetti as play-bases. Sensory play is a wonderful way for the child to explore or learn to play on her own. She also develops her vocabulary, imagination and motor skills in this process. Seen in the image is a sensory match and differentiate activity we did, when we had just learnt that spiders are NOT insects, because of their body segmentation.

WEAVING

We found that spiders weave webs from a liquid they produce. The magical fact is that it that turns into solid as soon as it is released, forming the web. The web has sticky as well as non-sticky portions for it’s prey to land and the spider to move comfortably. And in almost all cases, it is the female that spins webs. We did a super simple but super-engaging weaving activity to appreciate the concentration and motor skills required to create a web. V has been wanting to know just how spiders know this skill, ever since!

ART

The more we observe spider webs, the more we understand that not all webs are alike, they have beautiful designs, shapes, symmetries within them. Glue painting webs with chalk dust, salt painting and process art using yarn in the paint are some art work we did on this theme. V particularly enjoyed the latter.

Lessons from spiders

Spiders are persevering and build their webs from scratch without getting frustrated. This is an important lesson for a toddler who can get tired or irritated easily when a puzzle is too challenging or boring. Spiders are also required to eat the smaller pests at home and out. Also, it is super cute to watch them walk.

Books

The Very busy spider was one of our earliest favourites

For the very young, below 2 years, we enjoyed The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. We also love Julia Donaldson’s Spinderella, which I’d recommend after the child has learnt counting and numbers. For older kids, Chalotte’s web is a wonderful book. But my all time favourite book on the topic of spiders that brings out the zoological as well as emotional aspect, is Sophie’s masterpiece.

The great thing about researching topics like this in a child-led manner is the cognitive conversation it offers. When I asked V what she would do if she had 4 hands and 4 legs, pat came her reply, “I will hold 2 books in 2 hands and eat with 2 other hands, at the same time!” Well, atleast her priorities are clear!

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