Monday, November 3, 2008


I don't really do much of a Halloween Theme during Halloween time, but I do use this time of year to talk about two facets of Halloween celebrations - spiders and pumpkins. My Spider Theme this year went quite well. I think most of my students learned a thing or two, which, of course, is always a goal when teaching.

I use what my mom calls the "Velcro Method" of teaching. I throw out a whole bunch of information, and if some of it sticks, it's all good. When teaching about spiders, I want them to know that spiders have eight legs, and use their webs to catch pesky flies and mosquitoes. I throw out other terms like arachnid, cephalothorax, spinnerets, and the like, and if some of the kids pick up on these I high five myself (and them!)

I use Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider as my book for this theme.

The morning of our first day of studying spiders, a colleague who loves to do face painting with the kids asked what I was studying this week. When I answered, "Spiders," she asked if she could paint spiders on the kids' hands. As she painted each child"s hand, she had them count the body parts (2), and the legs (8) as she painted them. This turned out to be a stroke of genius, because this simple act really helped cement those two concepts in the kids' minds. (Thanks, Katie!)

I made a huge Very Busy Spider and hung it on my ceiling. It was a simple construction paper job, nothing fancy, but the kids figured out right away who it was supposed to be. I told them the spider would be busily spinning a web on our ceiling all night.

For the next day of class, I made a huge spider web constructed from scotch tape on my ceiling, with the sticky side facing down. The kids were absolutely delighted that the Very Busy Spider had really been busy! I gave each student a handful of cotton balls, and told them that the cotton balls were pesky flies and mosquitoes, and that the Very Busy Spider needed them on her web. The challenge was for the kids to figure out how to get the cotton balls on the web. The kids are very small, the web was way up there on the to get those cotton balls up there? The one rule I laid down - no grown-ups could help. The kids had to figure this one out all on their own. And they did. Their solutions were ingenious, ranging from using a chair to throwing up a clump of cotton balls together. I loved how not one of them gave up; they all wanted to make sure the Very Busy Spider got her food.

The next day, the students became Very Busy Spiders. I gave each one of them a skein of yarn, and had them weave their own webs all over the classroom. (I got this idea from Family Fun Magazine). As the room got more and more tangled with multi-colored webs, I told the kids that they couldn't go through the webs, they needed to go over and under them - now we had an exercise in gross motor skills! Although, honestly, it was way easier for the kids to navigate through the webs than it was the adults. Once the room was completely webbed up, I gave each child a pair of scissors to cut the webs down. Now we have fine motor skills practice! What was cool about this was that it didn't take long for the kids to figure out if they held the scissors correctly, the yarn was easier to cut.

I did this activity two days in a row.

During this week we also made Very Busy Spiders. We made webs using marble painting with gold paint on white paper, then constructing spiders to go on the webs. For the spiders I gave each child some red bodies, some green heads, and a whole bunch of red pipe cleaner legs, and let them make the spider however they wanted. Most kids constructed the spider with the correct parts, which I attribute to not only the reading of the story, but the hand painting that took place on the very first day.

I always know that what I am doing has been a success when the kids go home and tell their parents what we have been doing. When a parent asked me, "Why is there a giant spider web on your ceiling full of pesky flies and mosquitoes?" I knew that they had gotten it. Or at least some of it.

The scotch tape web (a mural the class painted is hanging on the ceiling behind the web)

Spinning the yarn webs

More spinning webs; and see all the cotton on the floor?

1 comment:

Amy H said...

I did this to my brothers room once with a 500 foot ball of twine. It was quite fun, I think I was 7 or so. You couldn't walk into the room, My dad of course made me wind it back into a perfect ball, you way sounds so much better!