By Scot Woodland
Kids, Spiders and A Lesson of Observation
One of the joys of hanging out with kids in the woods is opening them up to new things, because when you do, they turn it all around and start to teach you of the things that they see and deduce. As the seasons go around and round there is always something new emerging from the ground or trees. Like mushrooms after the first rains, and nests arriving on branches as spring unfolds. As summer ends from the ground on branches and sailing thru the sky emerges the fall spider web parade. The silver glimmer started to show up 2 weeks ago, and all I had to do was ask the kids to count these webs. The first kid announces 7, 13 the next , two minutes later 54. The attention spans of each kid was beginning to be revealed. There are tightly woven handkerchief sized webs on the ground with an entry hole in each one. I think, “Hey does any one see a place where these spiders go in?” they are down on their knees searching, looking deep around the whole web until yep there it is. All 14 kids have found a web to inspect, ok well 10 of them anyway. The other 4 are gathering sticks, rolling a rock or, almost catching poison oak. Further down the trail another group of spider homes beg the question, “What are they catching.” Back down on our Bellies. Yes, Instructors must do what they ask to keep the respect of the ever-aware child’s mind. When you ask a question backed up by your own action of getting down and looking, it instills a trust that you believe in the information you ask them to inspect.
Hey there is a feather and some leaves in this spider web. Do they eat feathers? The questions and speculations begin.
When a child, or actually any one discovers something thru their own observation, they carry that knowledge for life. In 3 short interactions with spider webs you have hooked them on a life time relationship with the observation of the wonderful world of spiders. As they begin their journey with observing the natural world this is the most important step we can ask them to take. To begin to notice all the different situations in nature. Today it was helping to begin to not fear spiders, but to ask as many questions as they can think up about what do spiders do all day, and begin to find them endlessly fascinating. We didn’t even see any spiders- just webs. When you introduce nature to a child it influences their empathy towards nature and starts to connect them to web of life.