My name is Amanda and I have a confession, I've never read Charlotte's Web. Can it be that an elementary school teacher, not to mention the daughter of two teachers, a lover of animals, and the wife of a former farmer, hasn't read this American classic? Yes, it is true. However, in honor of Charlotte's 60th birthday this month, I am reading the book to my class and loving it! Most of my students have read it some years ago so they are amusing me along the way. Laughing when I laugh, saying "awww" when I say "awww", tearing up when I tear up. You know what all good audiences do. Like every good teacher I don't just let them enjoy a wonderful story, I make them learn something new as we go. Since Charlotte, Wilbur and the barnyard crew are typically introduced to children in second or third grade, I decided to focus on the rich vocabulary E.B. White uses throughout the book.
We also have been learning about animal adaptations in science, so the life of an arachnid lent us great study material. Through our reading we learned that Charlotte is an orb weaver spider as opposed to a sheet web spider. In addition to a spider's adaptations, we discussed their habitat, diet, and life cycle. Then we got to painting. I simply gave each student a black sheet of construction paper, a Q-tip, and some white paint. They designed an orb web, defined vocabulary words from the book, and there you have it a web of words that would make Charlotte proud!
To finish off the activity we made spider cookies from Oreos, chocolate frosting, black licorice, and Mini M & Ms. My little biologists were quick to point out that most spiders have six or eight eyes. They are so technical aren't they!! I think they were just trying to get more M & Ms out of me! Adding new words to our vocabulary, and extending our life science knowledge gives this book even more reason to be one of my "new" all time favorites!