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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Seven Little Spiders Make a Web

Last week I had the pleasure of spending some time with a group of very brilliant young scientists. Leo’s amazing preschool teacher, Miss D., invited me into the classroom to try out a Sid the Science Kid investigation on a real preschool class, with all of Leo’s preschool peers. Seven little scientists in all.
Leo was beside himself with anticipation as we made our way to his classroom. He was talking nonstop and ready to get going on our adventure. My goal was to recreate the spider web activity from the new Sid the Science Kid Halloween special. In the activity, four children use classroom furniture as a base to make a spider web out of twine. On the show, the live action is shown in fast forward speed as the children move back and forth to create a fantastic spider web. How ingenious! And fun! And easy?
Miss D welcomed me into the classroom and I got right to work. First, I asked the children to tell me what they know about spiders. It being Halloween time and all, I got plenty of information about poison, biting, and what to watch out for. As we talked more we learned some basic facts about spiders: eight legs, make webs, eat insects. Then I read them a wonderful big book about spider webs that I borrowed from Henry’s Kindergarten teacher. The children loved the large-scale photos of the icky spiders and the various kinds of webs.
As we read the book, I got a sense of the challenges we would be working with. Mainly, the kids were really, really excited and they talked constantly. And they wiggled constantly. And they really wanted to make a web. Miss D stepped in now and then to reestablish order. It was fascinating to watch.
Then we put the seven kids into two groups and Miss D and I stood on either side of four chairs as we began to have children walk across the space and hand twine back and forth. It was tough manage seven excited kids who weren’t really sure what we were actually making.
Miss D and I sent the boys and girls back and forth, making it up as we went along. The twine would slip on the back of the chair, or unravel off the spool, or a little friend would drop the whole thing. The key was to keep the chairs in place to that the twine could stay taut.
My seven little spiders LOVED it. They were totally entranced by the process. We even had to prod them along every once in while because they were so busy watching the web come alive. I talked with them about silk, spiders, and a little about engineering. But they mostly wanted to get to a point where they could PLAY with the web.
When Miss D and I decided that the web was well formed I gave each of the children a spider to place on the web. The glee was frenzied and Miss D had to step in quick with a loud yet calming song. The kids were mesmerized and frankly, I was too! Then we got back to the task at hand and started placing spiders.
It was tricky work getting those spiders to stay on our delicate web. We talked about how strong, yet delicate spider webs needed to be. Each child had a turn stepping or crawling into the web to place a spider.
Soon, all of the spiders were placed precariously on the web. The activity had taken us close to an hour and the kids were spent. And I was exhausted. I cannot tell you how much admiration I have for Miss D. She was the model of patience, perseverance, and poise. Miss D exhibited helped me engage the kids, keep them on task, and move them along when she saw things get hairy. I could never have done the investigation alone. I am so lucky as a parent to have Miss D teaching Leo this year.
Before leaving, I asked the kids to pose for me as a group of spiders. It was hard to get a clear photo, as they totally got into their roles and became scary gang of spiders!
I can’t wait to go back and try out another one of Sid’s investigations with Leo and his friends. They all are bright, quick, and curious scientists. I am sure they will have lots of information to me as the year goes on. And I just have to give huge shout out to all of the “Miss Suzies” out there. Preschool teachers have the most wonderful and challenging job!

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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