Spiders are celebrated weavers and builders in their own right, and for centuries they have also been muses and models for visual artists, musicians, poets, scientists, storytellers, and engineers.
What are you inSPIDERed to create?
Spot the Spiders!
Mornings are the perfect time to explore your neighborhood and local parks for spider webs, because morning dew makes them easier to find. Spending time outside puts a positive spin (see what we did there?) on growing minds through activating nearly all senses – sight, sound, smell, and touch – encouraging brain growth and development. This activity also gets both the body and mind moving together, a great one-two for stimulating creativity and imagination and inspiring the artist within.
You may be surprised at the variety of spider webs. We often associate Halloween with orb-weaver spider webs, which are the big circular webs you might find between trees, bushes, and near large windows. This is the time of year when orb weavers are fully grown, and if you spot a large spider resting near the web, you’ll know it’s a female. Males don’t spin and are much smaller. These spiders are as beautiful as their webs, and harmless, too, unless you’re a bug.
Orb weaver webs are some of the biggest, but keep looking and you’ll spot lots of other types of spider webs. Next time you go adventuring and exploring in your neighborhood, bring along this Kidspace Spider Web Guide to see who you can find!
Weave in More Learning
Going on a walk to spot spiders and their webs is great on its own but also pairs well with the last activity in this blog, Make A Spider Web. It can be helpful to either do this before or after to strengthen the experience.
The Power of Amulets
For many ancient cultures, spider amulets were worn as necklaces to offer protection and to symbolize wealth and good fortune, and spiders were believed to be able to catch good energy in their webs. Make your own lucky amulet from interesting materials around your house.
- Paper (you can also print and use our Amulet Design brainstorming guide)
- Coloring tools, such as markers, crayons, colored pencils
- Assorted materials such as aluminum foil, glue, beads, and other craft materials as desired
- If your amulet is a necklace, something to string it on.
- Sketch out the basic design of your amulet.
What kind of object will your amulet be? Does it have a particular shape (diamond, heart, circle, oval) or size? Will it be worn, carried, or displayed?
- Choose its protective power or benefit.
Amulets help fulfill wishes and protect against trouble. Use your imagination! Does your amulet have a special power to protect you or your family and friends? Does it bring you good luck and fortune? What are you wishing for?
- Use symbols to represent the power of your amulet.
Many amulets depict symbols inspired by nature, including animals like spiders, snakes, and lions, or flowers and herbs to promote good health. Rabbits and four-leaf clovers bring good luck, and images of eyes and monsters like Medusa are designed to keep evil spirits away. Borrow from historical symbols, or invent your own.
- Choose your materials.
Amulets are made from all kinds of materials such as precious metals like gold or silver, wood, stone, glass, and even sometimes bone. Think about repurposing materials from around the house to get a texture and color that works.
It’s fun to think through how we might create something like an amulet. As kids consider things like the physical shape, size, color, and materials, and begin to make intentional choices, they are starting to really explore the design process of taking ideas and translating them into real things.
Make a A Spider Web
Spiders help us spin a web of learning that even supports foundations for developing minds to explore math concepts such as fractions! In this activity, we serve up a hot cup of fun using a round coffee filter to make a spidery-take on the classic ‘paper snowflakes’ to create a spiderweb.
- Round coffee filters (usually used for basket-style coffee makers)
Optionally, you can trace and cut out a circle from a piece of paper!
- Smooth out the coffee filter until it is lying mostly flat.
- Next, fold the coffee filter three consecutive times – halving it with each fold. This is one place to start introducing language that supports understanding fractions with your child. As they see what parts of a whole look like in action say them out loud and point out each part of the fraction as you go – the first fold folds the whole coffee filter in half, the second folds it into quarters, and the third folds it into eighths.
- Grab a pencil, and outline the shapes you are going to cut out of the web. Looking at your lovely little triangle, find the shortest side, opposite the point and draw a crescent shape, dipping into the triangle. This gives your web the classic points where it would be anchored to trees and bushes. Now, find the side that is a long, thick fold, and draw a few rectangles beginning at the fold and approaching, but not touching, the opposite, open side.
- Use scissors to carefully cut along the lines. If you make a mistake, no big deal! You can always try again – and after all, spiders don’t always make the perfect web either!
- Unfold and admire your spider web! As you unfold, this is a great time to revisit fractions (this time going backwards).
Put more spin on the learning
- This activity is also a fun example of creating and looking for symmetry, since each section of the web is a mirror. Take a look at the finished web, how many mirrored images can you find?
- Observe spiderwebs when we spot them outdoors or even in our home! Are they symmetrical? What do we see that might have made them symmetrical, asymmetrical? Look for other places there might be symmetry in nature (e.g., leaves, insects).
- If your learner isn’t quite ready to explore fractions, consider working with them to point out shapes and practice counting! What shapes did we make? How many are there? We suggested using rectangles above, but how might the shapes in the web change if we cut squares or triangles instead?
- Celebrate the creative process and include additional art materials to explore more ways to interpret your spider web. Coffee filters are an especially great medium for things like water color, markers, and even food coloring, it’s amazing to watch the colors spread and intermingle throughout the filter. You may even consider adding a resident to your web.
- How might we use the web? Could it become a piece of another project? Is it one in a collection of many webs? Or perhaps its stands alone as a unique and singular creation!
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