Spider Summer

We’ve had an unusually spidery summer. No matter how many we killed we all woke with spider bites in the mornings. They turned up in every room and strung sticky silk booby traps around the yard.

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This plump specimen set up housekeeping outside our kitchen window. We christened her Shelob.* (Our Bible Study leaders have a goliath in their garden that they named Spiderma’am. Genius.) It made for interesting meal times. Each day presented a new web pattern. We watched her eat old sections of web, restring it, wait for prey, trap bugs, pounce, wrap victims in silk, and shelter from predators and harsh weather. The kids were fascinated and even the adults learned a lot.

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We’re not doing formal preschool yet, just lots of regular play, stories, and songs mixed with casual letter, number, and color identification. As topics come up that catch the kids’ interest we try to feed their curiosity. I hunted around for a couple of spider books from the library appropriate for their age. In case your small folk might enjoy them too, the best ones I found were:

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Inside the Spider’s Web by Natalie Lunis. This book is well-suited for the older-toddler/just-turned-three set. The clear photos and text are well-organized and informative without being too dense for very young kids. The twins kept asking to see the photographs again. This book even taught the adults a bit. It’s depressing to realize our spider probably disappeared because she’d laid her egg sack and died. I’m not sad she’s dead. I’m sad to learn that several hundred of her babies will likely join us in the Spring. One was cool, but we’re not enthusiastic about an invasion.

Are You a Spider by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries has attractive art and simple clear text. It would even be appropriate for younger toddlers.

The Smithsonian’s Spiders by Seymour Simon looks good at a glance (I’ve yet to read through the whole thing) but is still a bit text-heavy for my kids. It would probably be ideal in a year or two.

I’m no Pinterest parent but while their interest holds we may sit down one day and make some spiders for the kids to play with (eight pipe cleaner legs stuck into holes in old TP tubes, eight eyes drawn on) with some twine strung between two chairs so they have a web to play on. We shall see.

*At least I think it’s female…

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