A spider and its web seemed quite fitting for Halloween week! As a Master Gardener, I get to serve my community in a variety of ways. I work in our Answer Clinic on a regular basis answering the public's questions about their plants, plant problems/identification, insects and a whole variety of other questions. I also get to lead workshops and trainings, and I have helped with some of our school gardens. Every once in a while, I get a creative project handed down to me for use in the program. Recently I was asked to create a hands-on activity revolving around spiders for a group of Master Gardeners to use at a local kids event. I like these types of projects because they stretch me creatively.
After a couple weeks of thinking this through....what appeals to a variety of ages, what kind of activity can be done in less than a minute, what do kids really want to know about spiders....I came up with the games "Feed Me Lunch (please)" and "Build a Spider". Yours truly constructed the spider seen above as well as a framed web. The web above on my kitchen entry was my practice for the game.
For the "Feed Me Lunch" game, kids threw cotton ball 'insects' at a framed web I built out of string and double sided tape. For such a simple game, the kids were able to learn a ton about how a spider builds its web out of different types of silk and how it senses its prey. The "Build a Spider" game was a simple game of rolling a dice to earn felt pieces of a spider's body parts. The kids would put the pieces together to create a spider and learn about all of the different body parts in the process. The event went over really well, and I am told that the volunteers and kids in attendance had a lot of fun with the spider activities.
While I was working on this project, I learned so much about spiders. They are fascinating creatures! So fascinating that I thought you might like to learn a little about them as well...
- There are over 40,000 species of spiders in the world, but only 30 are poisonous to humans.
- Of these 40,000 species of spiders, only one species is vegetarian (and it is found in Central America)
- Even though most spiders have eight eyes, web weaving spiders in particular have pretty poor eyesight. Instead of relying on their eyesight, they use the hairs on their legs to sense movement on their webs.
- A web weaver needs to rebuild or repair its web at the end of each day.
- Spiders can smell and taste using their legs.
- Spiders use fluid pressure to extend their legs and muscles to flex their legs.
- Baby spiders (spiderlings) have the ability to produce silk and know how to spin a web from the time they hatch.
- Spider silk is stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar and almost as stretchy as rubber.
Maybe I am boring you with spider talk? Sometimes I can geek out about this stuff. If you want to read more about web weaving spiders (not all spiders weave webs), I found this great article: The Wonders of Webs. And another fantastic read was about spider myths found here.
Making a spider and its web is not all I was at work at this week. I also pulled out a quilt project I had begun a few years ago and got to work on it again. I am not really sure why I set it aside in the first place. All of the pieces are cut and ready to be sewn up into blocks, so it is not a very difficult project. I think because it does not have a set deadline, I am slow in finishing it. I have let other projects step in front of this one because they needed to be completed by a certain time or for a particular person/reason. I am hoping to keep picking away at this and finish it up this year. I love the blues and whites...reminds me of winter. I think a cozy blue flannel would be the perfect backing fabric for this quilt.
How about you? Have you had any fun projects that you have worked on this week? Maybe something that stretched you creatively?