Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider will always be one of my favorites because it was one of the first books I regularly read to my first son. It’s a simple story of a spider slowly building a perfect web as the barnyard animals come one by one to invite her to play. By the end of the story, the web is finished, the pesky fly has been caught, and the spider is ready for a good night’s sleep. The patterned text is great for reading with young children – invite them to join in with you!
True to his hands-on approach, Eric Carle created a raised spiderweb that can be felt as you run your fingers across the page. You can encourage the children to examine how the web was made as it grows gradually from page to page. Point out to the children that a spider’s web is usually very well designed. Talk about the types of lines in the design, and the steps the spider went through to create the final web.
After reading the story you can help the children create their own webs by soaking white crochet string in liquid starch and then having the children arrange it on wax paper. You could even shake some glitter on to give it that sparkly dew look. After drying overnight, the webs should be stiff and can be peeled off of the wax paper! Don’t expect the children to make their webs look like the one in the book – these are their own webs to spin!
This book is a great opportunity to talk about spiders, their traits, and how they build webs and why. The activity also encourages creativity and small motor skills while reinforcing story comprehension.
Fireflies are simply enchanting! The Very Lonely Firefly captures that mystique as it follows one solitary firefly looking for the lights of other fireflies. He travels past candles, flashlights, and fireworks before finally finding a group of friends. This book features a light-up page to bring in Eric Carle’s flair for special-effects.
After reading, have your children become fireflies! Start out by making simple antennae using sentence strips or poster board (they can decorate with crayons if they wish) and pipe cleaners.
Next, comes the fun science part! Talk about how and why fireflies glow (there’s great information inside the cover of the book, as well as in this video). Basically, fireflies glow because of a chemical reaction; glow sticks work on the same principle. So if you have a safe dark place, go there with the children and have them watch as you activate a glow stick, snapping the inner barriers to cause a chemical reaction. (Be aware of anyone who might be afraid of the dark.) I like to buy the necklace glow sticks and let the children wear them, along with their antennae. They look like fantastic fireflies! If you have an open space, free from obstacles and perhaps with a little light for safety, you can have the children act out the story, trying to find their friends in the dark by looking for their lights! Story-acting is wonderful for comprehension, and the kids love it!
Enjoy exploring the world of bugs through Eric Carle’s eyes!
Previous Eric Carle Book Activity: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Web photo by josowoa.
Firefly photo by jamelah.