Seeing as how Halloween 2021 was fast approaching, we took a look at Spiders for our next Nature Study!
We grabbed our Nature Study book by Julia Rothman and our Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature book by Nicola Davies to see if we could find some information about our arachnid friends. Both books had pages dedicated to spiders. Outside Your Window had a beautifully illustrated poem about spiderlings, and Nature Anatomy has two pages dedicated to a few species of spiders and their webs. We also enjoyed reading Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider for our spider theme as well.
We didn’t have too many media resources for this particular theme, but we did enjoy watching a SciKids episode about spiders on YouTube, as well as listing to Pancake Manor’s Itsy Bitsy Spider (a long time favorite version of this song in our house) and the Kiboomer’s There’s a Spider on the Floor. You can click the photo above to get to our playlist if you are wanting to see and listen to that media as a family.
We went on several spider hunts outside, seeking out any web or spider we could find. We were fortunate enough to see a pretty amazing orb-weaver spider, who just happened to make their massive web on our front stoop, perfect for us to view and observe for a few days.
We worked on a pretty cool spiderweb art project using glue, salt, and watercolor paints. To set this fun activity up, I just drew a spider web with a pencil on black card stock. I then took liquid glue and traced the penciled lines I had made. Using a tray to catch all the extra, I placed the spider web in front of Grace with a bowl full of salt to sprinkle all over the glue. After knocking off the extra, we laid the spider web on the counter to dry over night.
The next morning, Grace got to work painting her spiderweb. When doing this project, you want to use watercolor paints with an emphasis on water. We learned pretty quickly that after coating a brush with paint to dip the brush back into water real quick, and then start dabbing the web. You definitely want to dab here, not brush, so the salt stays intact on the web. With the help of the water, the paint appears to crawl through the webbing as you go. A really neat process to witness!
I was so proud of Grace for exhibiting so much patience during this activity. I’m so glad she enjoyed it enough to stick with it until her rainbow spider web was complete. It turned out so beautiful and any activity that can keep Grace’s attention for this long is a win in my book! We plan to do many more salt paintings in the future.
We also worked on letter recognition with this fun Spiderweb Alphabet Game. Super simple to set up, and a great learning game for Grace! I just took an empty laundry basket and weaved some black yarn through the holes on each of the sides to create a web for little hands to pass through. I dumped her alphabet puzzle pieces in the bottom of the basket, and placed 3 plastic spider rings on different parts of the web. The game was simple, grab the letters in alphabetical order from the bottom of the basket and place them back in the puzzle. The catch? Grace had to complete the task without knocking all 3 spiders out of the web!
On her first attempt, she made it all the way through until the letter V before the last spider fell. So we dumped all the letters back into the basket and started over again. Grace’s second attempt she made it all the way through the whole alphabet with the last spider barely hanging on! Such a simple activity with loads of learning opportunities. This activity could also be done with numbers, shapes, and colors too.
Using our Nature Anatomy book again, Grace studied the various spider illustrations and I asked her to count the legs on each one. A reoccurring pattern quickly emerged. We talked about how all spiders have eight legs, and how they have two main body parts.
I set up a play dough activity for Grace to make her own spiders with our homemade play dough, googly eyes, and cut up plastic straws. After learning those new facts about spiders, Grace formed two body parts for each of her spider creations and added eight legs to each one.
Play dough activities are always a hit with Grace. I love them for the creative and imaginative skills that are used, and also love that we are reenforcing concepts learned. It’s kind of our thing: learning through play!
Grace also made spiders made from a simple paper roll stamp. I just used an empty paper roll from our recycling bin, and cut 8 spider legs along the top half of the roll. Then I set out a plate of black paint, and a piece of card stock on a tray. Grace was able to use the paper roll to stamp spider shapes on the paper. Full disclaimer, we used a pretty thick paint, which made the legs on the paper roll curl upwards almost immediately. So I did have to push down on each leg for the stamp to work the way it was intended.
Grace loves to paint, so I let her color in each spider with watercolor paints as well. Can you tell she likes ALL the colors? Her rainbow spiders were so cute. And she even added a rainbow fingerprint signature to her masterpiece.
Our last activity for our Spider Nature Study and theme, once again revolved around a spiderweb. I used a previously purchased Halloween game board from a few years ago, and turned it into a roll and cover game to exercise Grace’s subitizing and early math skills. Grace rolled a foam die, counting the dots each turn. She then covered the corresponding number on the spiderweb with a plastic spider ring. There were even a few rolls where she recognized a particular dot pattern as a specific number, which is huge progress in the subitizing department! We continued playing until every number on the spiderweb was covered.
That’s a wrap (pun intended) on our Spider Theme & Nature Study!