This month Baby Toddler Book Club celebrated Halloween with a spider web-themed meeting and adorable babies and toddlers in costumes. I can hardly believe that I’m writing a post about a “spider-themed” anything. You see, I have a pretty intense aversion to spiders – all kinds, all sizes. But Eric Carle can make me appreciate anything. His sweet picture book, A Very Busy Spider is no exception.
A Very Busy Spider is the tale of a little spider who works hard all day weaving her web without even a moment’s pause to chat or play with her fellow farm yard friends. Each page is repetitive and introduces a new animal and the sound it makes. For example, “ ‘Neigh, Neigh!’ said the horse. ‘Want to go for a ride?’ The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.” So it goes on every page, but with a cow, sheep, pig, etc. As the book progresses, the spider’s web (which is raised on the page for readers to feel) becomes more and more complete. On the final pages, the spider catches a fly that made an appearance on every page and then falls asleep beside her beautiful web (admired by an owl).
Although not a traditional Halloween book, spiders are one of many icons of the holiday. There are many wonderful traditional Halloween books out there, but I like to vary our meeting themes. Since last year’s Halloween party focused on pumpkins and our Virtual Book Club meeting this month focused on witches, this was the perfect time for a spider & web themed meeting!
As we read the book during our meeting, we concurrently made a giant web. My son and I started with a ball of yarn and when we turned the page, we rolled the ball of yarn to another parent/child pair across the circle. They then rolled the ball to someone else with the next page turn so that we built the web along with the spider in the book. This activity really needs parent involvement because the toddlers have a tendency to drop the string.
The giant web was probably enough of an activity in an of itself given the attention span of most of the kids, but I recently saw an idea for adorable spider web lacing cards on momendeavors.com. Since my 2 ½ year old has really gotten into lacing cards recently, I knew I had to adapt this activity for our meeting. We used small white paper plates with about 16 holes punched around the edge. To prep each lacing card for the meeting, I laced one end of a piece of gray string (to match the web in the book) through one hole and taped it to the back of the plate. I also rolled the other end of the string in a little scotch tape to make it easier for the kids to lace.
The day of the meeting, I simply handed the lacing card to the kids and parents and let them go at it. Some of the kids were really into the activity, while others were ready to move on and free-play. Some kids needed a lot of help to complete the lacing card, others did it completely on their own. The great part about this activity is that the kids could take the lacing card home to complete it or unthread it and do it again if they wanted. When the web was completed, we had a few “cute” spider stickers on hand for the kids to adhere to their plate.
By this time, most of the kids were asking for a snack, and prepared we were! We made spider webs out of string cheese on black plates (so the web was visible). Again, due to the natural developmental variation (and just the variation of each child), some kids pulled the strings apart themselves and laid them on the plate to make the web, while a few other parents did it for their kids. We then placed a fruit spider on top of the web: half of a grape and strawberry for the body and pretzel sticks for the legs. Take a look at the slide show for details—I was impressed at how similar our fruit resembled the spider on the cover of The Very Busy Spider book! The snack idea was adapted from this source: http://teacherweb.com/MO/MillsElementary/MrsBondsFantasticFirstGraders/apt3.aspx.
Since this was our Halloween party, all of the kids came in costume. If you are reading this because you have your own Baby Toddler Book Club, my advice to you this month is: you MUST have a costume party! Whether it’s for Halloween or just a fun excuse to dress your kids up—there is very little that is cuter in this world than a baby or toddler in costume…except a GROUP of babies and toddlers in costumes! Don’t, however, plan to get a group photo of the kids all looking at the camera and pleased to do so—it’s just not in the make-up of toddlers! See the slideshow below for an illustration. At least all of the kids were IN the group photo attempt this year…last year we had run-aways!
Happy Halloween everyone! Stay safe & join us next month for some Stone Soup!