To observe, enjoy and create in everyday life

A Week of Creating




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? 

5 comments:

  1. What creative teaching methods, Bekah! I love the idea of tossing the cotton balls at the web. I bet the kids had a lot of fun! That's just great!

    Hmm, now that I know you are the go-to lady for bug information, at some point I will pick your brain about dealing with squash bugs. They won the battle in our garden this past year. I'm also curious about employing preying mantis bugs in our garden in the future. I'm going to do a little research over winter on the pros and cons of that.

    Definitely a lot of spiders in our garden, which is fine. What I don't like are the big Wolf spiders that come into our basement in the fall! (Shudder.) This year wasn't so bad, though.

    The quilt pattern looks lovely. I like blue and white together. So classic. A flannel backing sounds so cozy! I hope you enjoy working on the project. Keep us posted? Have a great day!

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    1. I don't know that I have had any encounters with wolf spiders, but I know we do have them in our area. Every fall (every.single.fall) we get many calls/emails in the Answers Clinic about big, scary spiders being found in people's homes. Folks usually think they are finding hobos or brown recluse spiders in their homes, but we don't have the brown recluse here in WA state. Usually what people are finding each fall in their homes are giant house spiders. And they are big, and hairy and FAST! I hate when we find them in our house!
      Do you have a county extension office where you live in NY? You may call/email your local Master Gardeners to see if they offer an answer clinic. They would have local information/publications regarding squash bugs. I found a WA state resource for you though. The biology of the insect would be the same, as would the non-chemical controls. But your state may have different pesticides that are legal or not legal, so you will have to look into that.
      http://hortsense.cahnrs.wsu.edu/Search/MainMenuWithFactSheet.aspx?CategoryId=5&PlantDefId=55&ProblemId=225

      I found a spare hour and finished up two more blocks on my quilt today! I am keeping at it :)

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    2. Thank you so much for providing the information on the squash bugs! That was incredibly kind of you. We used a homemade spray with natural products, like dish soap and cayenne powder, but that didn't work. My husband was the "hand picker" in charge, but we just could not keep up. The eggs are really challenging to scrape off the leaves without damaging them. We are going to try to employ some preventative methods next year, such as planting the zucchini later when the squash bugs have found another place to go... and we will also try keeping covered in a row cloth for as long as we can. I also might use neem oil as recommended by some readers when I asked for tips on Facebook. I'm not sure.

      It's so nice during a typical day to find an extra hour to do something, isn't it? I'm glad you got some time to feed your "quilting soul." :-) I look forward to seeing your finished results! (And other quilts... I admire this talent!)

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  2. Oh boy! I love this post! The spider games sound great. And that you did the research and came up with them all on your own is simply amazing. And those spider facts are great too. I don't know a lot about spiders, honestly I've never had the desire to research them. But you've intrigued me. It's not that I don't like spiders. I actually don't mind them. But I think my attitude has been more of-go do your work and stay out of my way! Unless it's one of the 30 poisonous ones. Or one of the really big ones--i.e. tarantulas. They just creep me out.

    As for that quilt, it is lovely and I love your idea of blue flannel on the back. I hope you find lots of time to get it finished! I, too, put projects down and then pick them up later and wonder why I never finished it to begin with. Such is the life of a maker I guess.

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    1. I don't think I would have woken up one day and thought, "I'm going to look a little deeper into spiders today." But being asked to do it as part of this project, well then of course I would! Insects (and arachnids) are fascinating to learn about. As a Master Gardener, I have been able to attend some classes on etymology in general but there have also been specific presentations on ants, native bees and yellow jackets. Maybe one day I will WOW you with facts about those ;)
      I pieced three more blocks last night! Three more to go, and then I can add the sashing and borders.

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