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The Spider’s
Web
Using emergent interests to
support children’s learning
How we began …
Image: Spider and web, a Creative Commons: Attribution 2.0
Generic licensed photo from photofarmer’s photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/photofarmer/3948508165/ accessed
Feb 10, 2011.
Jacinta found an Australian orb spider in the
kindergarten garden.
This discovery was met with much excitement and
lots of ideas and questions. We documented these
on a concept web.
Brainstorming ideas with a concept web
8 legs
What do we
know about
spiders?
What sort is
our spider?
make webs
must not
touch
hairy
What do we
want to find out?
eat bugs
How do they
make webs?
books
my mum
spiderman
Where is the
poison?
Can I make a
web?
Who/what
can help us?
Google it!
What eats
spiders?
Setting up an interest area
The question “Can I make a spider web?” provoked
more suggestions about creating an interest area —
this became the spider table, based on the children’s
ideas.
We began with the prompt “What will we need?”
– books
– a spider web — what can we use to make it?
– stones and leaves for the spiders to hide in
– some plastic spiders and insects.
Then what happened?
• Over the next few days, more things were added to
the spider table as children collected items from
outside.
• Several children began experimenting with making a
spider web using wool and tape.
• The children used the illustrations from the story
books and observations of our orb spider to help them
represent a web shape.
Meanwhile, Tom had been quietly
watching what was happening …
• Tom was fascinated with the spider
web and asked to add to the
existing design.
• He pulled a section of wool down
from the reel on the shelf and
attempted to tape it to the green
fabric on the table.
• Tom tried to make the spider
balance on the wool hanging down
but it fell off twice.
Tom then raised the wool up and
tried to balance the spider again.
Problem solving in action
• Tom changed spiders and tried to balance the black one on
another section of the web where more lengths of wool crossed
over. It still didn’t balance!
Dealing with a challenge
At this point, Tom put the spider down on the table, picked up the
yellow caterpillar and played with it, moving the caterpillar slowly
across the rocks.
Perseverance
After a while, Tom tried the black spider one more time. When it
still wouldn’t balance he played with it; first moving it across his
other hand, then moving it along the edge of the table.
Where to from here?
What strategies could I use to help Tom with problem solving,
based on my observations? I could:
•
•
•
•
Show Tom the photos and ask him to reflect on what had happened.
Talk about the relative strength of a spider’s web.
Ask “How do spiders balance on their webs?”
Ask “What could be stronger than wool, can we try something else?”
What does this story tell me about Tom’s problem-solving skills?
What did you notice about his ability to:
•
•
•
persevere
face challenges
use trial and error?
Teacher’s mind map
Questions to explore
Do all spiders live in webs?
What do they eat?
How do they eat food?
Do spiders have teeth?
Why are webs sticky?
Are all webs the same?
Music and movement
finger rhymes
“Spin spider spin” CD
Criss-cross apple sauce
5 little spiders
Incy wincey
Spider movements
spinning and floating
Australian spiders
Introduce the “look, love
and leave” principle when
examining wildlife.
Discuss safety in the
bush and caring for the
natural environment
Find out about
spider habits by doing
some observational
drawings of the spider
and the web
spider habitats
through internet
searches
Books
The very busy spider — Areana
Spiders spin silk: how & why?
Insects and spiders
10 big spiders
Vocabulary
spiderling, poison,
venom, sac, prey,
camouflage, trap, spin,
twist, web, silken
thread, habitat, home
Space for unexpected
new directions that
children suggest
I chose to record this experience as a learning story
in the following way
What did I notice?
Why was it significant?
Where to from here?
Tom was fascinated with the spider’s web and asked
to add to the existing design. He pulled a section of
wool down from the reel on the shelf and attempted
to tape it to the green fabric on the table.
Tom tried to make the spider balance on the wool
hanging down but it fell off twice. Tom then raised
the wool up and tried to balance the spider again.
Tom changed spiders and tried to balance the black
one on another section of the web where more
lengths of wool crossed over. It still didn’t balance.
At this point, Tom put the spider down on the table,
picked up the yellow caterpillar and played with it,
moving the caterpillar slowly across the rocks. After
a while, Tom tried the black spider one more time.
When it still wouldn’t balance he played with it; first
moving it across his other hand, then moving it along
the edge of the table.
This observation has really
demonstrated Tom’s interest in the
spider table, his willingness to
persevere when faced with a challenge
and his use of trial and error as a
strategy to solve the problem of
balancing the spider.
• Show Tom the photos and ask him to
reflect on what happened.
• Talk about the relative strength of a
spider’s web.
• Ask “How do spiders balance on their
webs?”
• Ask “What could be stronger than
wool? Can we try something else?”
Find:
• books about spiders
• internet resources about spiders — do
some internet research with the
children
• materials and wool (feathery) to add
to the collage
• the plastic insect set and magnifying
glasses — for some close
observations.