Posts Tagged ‘spider’

Hot Stuff

January 18, 2013

Possum is 6 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 6 months

Little Princess is 2 years


Today is hot.  I mean, fiery hot.  Firey hot, even, but thankfully, not just here.

It is currently 46degC at our house.  That is 115F.  It is the record for the hottest day ever recorded in our city.  It is also crazy.

I have been feeling nauseous for most of the day.  The kids have not been on their best behaviour – they are going troppo, too.  I have finally relented, and despite the extreme UV warning, have allowed them to play in the paddling pool in the shade.  Not the best option for their skin, but no point being a pretty corpse.

And, I have to admit, that as much as I am not fond of them, I am feeling a bit sorry for our guinea pigs.  Imagine wearing a fur coat in this weather!


But  you know what is amazing?  We did schoolwork today.  Well, sort of.  School doesn’t start for another week and a half, but in desperation, trying to entertain them indoors, we talked about, of all things, spiders.

You see, Bandicoot is fascinated by spiders.  Personally, I dislike them.  Would even say phobic.  Almost as bad as snakes.  DH is not much better and Possum is tending in the same direction.

Now, over a year ago, we went away for a weekend with some other friends.  One of them kindly bought the kids some activity books.  Bandicoot chose a spider book.  Yes, an entire book of spider sticker photos.  And not a straight forward one – these stickers go on this page type thing – no.  You have to read what the spider is on the sticker page, then go through the book reading about all the spiders to find in the paragraph what sticker goes with it.  Really, just what I have needed.

(I am NOT putting a picture of that book on my blog, but if you really want to know, it is called the “DK Ultimate Sticker Book – Spiders”)

This is not the kind of thing that a 3 – now 4 year old can do on his own.  Finally, today, with much prayer, I managed to sit down with him and read the book and put stickers in.  (NO, it is definitely still on the banned list for bedtime readers!)

Then I wondered what else I could do, to try and build his attention span (and get spiders out of his system).

I have been reading Karen Andreola’s, “Pocketful of Pinecones” in preparation for our new school year.  Her main character is forever referring to her handbook, Comstock’s “Handbook of Nature Study”.  While this sounds like and excellent book, I do not live in North America.  I do however, have this book:


“The Wonderland of Nature” by Nuri Mass. (Read about it here).

This is set where I live.  In fact, part of what we read today talks of a bushwalk half an hour drive from our home.  But that is a bit of a spoiler.


I dug out this book and read about watching a spider building a web.  I also continued to read at the boys’ request (Possum had been sucked in, now) about the Saint Andrew’s cross spider (I had never realised they had yellow, brown and white banded patterning on their bodies) and then about the leaf-curling spider.  Both these spiders frequent our garden.

And just to make it more poignant, later, when I finally got the courage to hang out the washing, what did Bandicoot find?  A leaf curling spider outside its leaf (very rare in the day time), as well as a couple of big, fat Saint Andrew’s cross spiders (so big that we could check out the patterns).  One of them was in the middle of a feast and another binding a fly.

The day has gone downhill since then – the heat eating away all our good humour – but at least I managed to spend some quality time with Bandicoot.


The Very Busy Spider

September 20, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 4 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 2 months

We love this book.  The boys love bugs and insects and creepy crawlies.  I love the way you can feel the spider’s web all the way through the book.  I have previously borrowed this book from the library and this time we borrowed it from a friend, but it is definitely on my wish list.

As I was setting up, Bandicoot discovered my basket…

Apparently I was taking too long to move on to the interesting stuff…

We made these little spiders – inspired by Mama Jenn.  Unfortunately, the legs didn’t stick on with the craft glue we had, so we added some tape “until the glue dried”.

That night I used a bit of Mummy Magic (also known as a hot glue gun in this case) and attached them more permanently.

And the other problem with using pipe-cleaners (er, sorry, chenille sticks as we are supposed to call them now)?  When you stand them on a hard surface and bump them, they make a rather skin crawling sound.  (Admittedly, they sound a good deal more like cockroaches than spiders, but even so…)

Did I mention how much I HATE spiders?  They really scare me.  Pictures, toys – any of them.  I justify myself because we live in a red-back and Sydney funnel-web area, but really they all give me the heeby-jeebies!

But I digress…

I prepared a magic painting for the boys before hand.  I used a white oil pastel to draw spider webs on a piece of white paper.  They then used watered down paint to make the webs show up.  This is possum working hard on his, with his little spider keeping him company.

And this is one of the finished webs:

I was a little disappointed with they way the web showed.  Maybe I should have used tempura paint instead.  However, when we held them against the window, they looked pretty good.

We had quite a discussion about HOW spiders build webs.  I had done a bit of research on this, which was scary business, because you just never knew when you were going to stumble on a picture of a spider.  I found it really fascinating, ‘though.  I was also pleased to see that the pictures in the book were pretty accurate – the drift thread first, then anchor threads, then the radials, (then there was supposed to be the spiral guide thread) and finally the (argh!  Can’t remember the correct name) the threads that go round and round.

Other interesting facts that we learnt:

The distance between the concentric circles is determined by the length of the spider’s legs.  That means that little spiders can catch little bugs and big spiders can catch big bugs.

A webbing spider has three spinerettes (the things that make web).  They have one type for the drift thread and anchor threads.  Another type to build the web and finally a third type for wrapping up their prey.  Cool, huh?

So, using our knowledge about how a spider’s web is built, we drew one in chalk on the driveway (wow, it used a lot of chalk!)

Can you see the blue cross on there?  Possum drew that, because he wanted the spider “to know all about Jesus and how He loves him and how He died to save him”.  I guess the Christian education is sinking in!

We then used the web to play spider and flies.  I thought we might take turns at this, but it is much more fun apparently if it is Mummy spider.

The boys buzzed around the yard and then “got caught” in the web.  Here you can see two little flies waiting to be eaten:

I then had to tip-toe carefully around the web to reach them, wrap them up and eat them.  They thought this was the best game ever!

A couple of days later, we had a lesson on the transience of spiders’ webs.  It rained and washed our web off the driveway, just like what happened to all the real spiders webs out there.

Given my, ahem, lack of affection for the subject matter, I really enjoyed this unit with the boys.