Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.
Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.
- Do you agree that we are taught to be afraid of spiders through nursery rhymes, myths and movies? What examples can you think of? Are spiders ever given a “good” reputation?
- What did you think about the behaviour of Margaret, the woman with arachnophobia? What were the things you found most interesting about how her phobia affects her life?
- One of New Zealand’s most famous spiders, the Avondale spider, “immigrated” here on timber being brought in from Australia. With its legs stretched out, it measures 20cm. You might like to find a ruler and look at how big 20cm is. Do you think it is likely that a live spider ever stretches its legs out to reach this size? Why or why not? Avondales are unusual in that they live communally – what do you think the advantages of this might be? What about disadvantages?
- Did you learn anything new about the spider’s anatomy, from the paragraph that starts “As children we are taught that spiders have eight legs…”? Which of these adaptations do you think might have allowed spiders to become such a highly successful species?
- In the paragraph that starts “It’s dinner time at our house…” the writer goes into detail about how a grey spider interacts with its prey. Were there any surprises in this description? Do you feel any differently about spiders after reading this description?
“Spiders are the lions and tigers of the arthropods—there is not a vegetarian amongst them. They make their living by stalking or trapping their victims, subduing them with venom injected through hollow fangs, dissolving their soft tissues with powerful digestive juices and then sucking out their liquid lunch.”
- In the first line, what is the effect of the comparison between spiders and lions and tigers?
- What do you think is the effect of the phrase “there is not a vegetarian amongst them?”
- In the second sentence, can you find five gruesome verbs?
- In the second sentence, can you find two or more words with negative connotations?
- In the second sentence, can you find three or more adjectives that build up a picture in the readers’ mind?
Answers: 1. The comparison to lions and tigers helps us imagine the spider as a powerful and as a carnivore/meat-eater. 2. It adds humour because being vegetarian is something we associate with humans. 3. Stalking, trapping, subduing, injected, dissolving, sucking. 4. Venom, fangs or any of the verbs in the previous answer. 5. Hollow, soft, powerful, liquid.
Activity: Rock Turtle
Create a rock turtle for your garden
Any smooth rocks lying around at your place? Grab some paint and make a cute rock animal for your garden. You could make a friendly spider or a turtle like the one in this project.
You will need:
- 6 stones
- Small craft brush
- Your choice of colours
- Bamboo skewer
Step 1: Find 6 garden stones. These will form the shape of a turtle.
Step 2: Paint the stones all over.
Step 3: Use a darker colour to paint polygon shapes on to the largest stone for the shell. Use the blunt end of a bamboo skewer to paint dots on to the flippers and head. Choose whatever colours you like!
Step 4: Paint the eyes with a dark colour.