Play Like Spiders

Spiders are masters of web weaving and can inspire super creative play, too! Just as spiders use their silk in many different ways to create, in this activity we welcome kids to explore how many different ways they can play with pretend “silk” (i.e. colorful yarn). This open-ended invitation to kids coupled with such an engaging material gives explorers a chance to identify and follow their own interests—a key component of persistence and grit.

This activity is featured in our Winter Persistence Animal Superheroes series. Not yet signed up? Click here to sign up or to try a free Tinkergarten Home lesson.

The Guide

Step 1: Learn about spiders. 

Watch this time-lapse video from BBC Earth of an orb weaver spider spinning its web. Invite your child to share what they noticed about the shapes and design of the spider’s web. (Optional) Head out on a search for spiders and/or webs in your outdoor space.

Step 2: Introduce your spider "silk". 

Make some yarn, string or twine available to your child and suggest that since humans can’t make silk from their bodies, they could use yarn or string to play and create like spiders.

Step 3: Play and Create!

Step back and observe how kids choose to play with their spider "silk". If play needs a bit of a spark, suggest a few of these ways to play, then let kids take the lead and decide how they most want to explore the yarn.

Spin a Web: Head to an outdoor space with a couple of trees close together. Or, bring out some chairs and/or a table to use for weaving. Kids can also build their web right on the ground if these materials are not available. Offer support as needed to anchor one end of the string to the tree, chair or table. Welcome kids to spin a web as big as space allows.
Move Like Spiders: Once kids are satisfied with their web, wonder aloud how a spider might move in and out of its web and welcome kids to try it out. Can they find a spot to crawl through? Over? Under? For an extra challenge, invite kids to move through the spaces of the web without touching the string.

Catch some "prey." Kids can pretend that nature treasures are delicious treats for the spider to eat and weave them through their web or use extra yarn to wrap them up.

Wrap It Up: Use yarn to wrap up a nature treasure. What can kids create when they wrap something in yarn?
Un-Wrap It: Pre-wrap some objects for kids to explore. Can they guess what is wrapped inside the yarn using their senses of touch, smell, sight and hearing? Make a guess, then enjoy unwrapping the object to reveal what is hidden inside!

Why is this activity great for kids?

In this activity, kids are tasked with figuring out what they want to do with their "silk" (i.e. yarn) and how they want to play. That opportunity can help bolster kids' ability to identify and follow their own interests —a key component of persistence and grit. Pretending to be another creature is a terrific way to support kids’ cognitive empathy. As kids use yarn to weave their web, they use creativity and problem-solving skills. And, as kids move their bodies and heads in different positions in their web, they activate their vestibular and proprioceptive systems, the senses that support balance, coordination, attention and focus.

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