Monday, April 19, 2021

Be Kind to Spiders Week - Virtual Storytime

Lately I've been looking to various lists of holidays and observances for inspiration for my storytime themes, and the first full week of April was "Be Kind to Spiders Week". Since so many people have somewhat irrational fears of spiders as adults, I thought maybe this would be a good opportunity to provide some factual information and a more positive spin on spiders.

After our "Hello Song" I brought out our tarantula spider puppet I named Aragog to help me introduce the storytime, along with a non-fiction book about spiders. I talked about how most spiders are harmless to people, and they help us by catching some of the bugs that can harm or annoy us like mosquitoes and flies. I showed pictures of the only two species found in the U.S. that are harmful, the black widow spider and the brown recluse, and talked a little about the spider's anatomy. I also mentioned that it's okay not to want spiders in your house and have a grown-up humanely relocate them outside, but we should just let them be when they are outside where they belong.

After a lead-in song I read the first book, the classic Little Miss Spider by David Kirk. This story is short and sweet, and Little Miss Spider is so adorably cute I don't see how anyone could be scared of her. This book was originally published 28 years ago, and was perhaps ahead of it's time in showing a non-traditional family, and that parents are the ones who love you most and care for you and don't necessarily look like you. I will have to remember this one the next time a patron is asking for adoption stories.

After that, we sang the traditional children's song, "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" using the traditional hand motions:

The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,

And the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

I added a second verse with "the great big" spider, and told the audience we would use an itsy bitsy voice for the itsy-bitsy spider, and a big, deep, loud voice for the great big spider.

Then I read another classic, Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider. I really like this one because it includes lots of farm animals that you can ask the kids to identify and/or sound like, since making animal sounds in great for phonological awareness, and it's fun! In the story we see the quiet spider building a new web a little at a time as the other animals stop by one by one to ask her to play. But she is too busy building her web to play.

Some editions of this book print the web in a silvery-white, raised ink that is great for one-on-one or independent reading, but not so great for storytime as it's hard to see. This version showed the web in a goldish color that was flat, so more visible and better for storytime.

I followed that with another quick song I saw at Librarian on the Loose, this time with my spider puppet to act out the motions:

The Spider Spins a Web
(to the tune of "The Farmer In The Dell")

The spider spins a web; the spider spins a web.
Round and round, up and down.
The spider spins a web.

She spins it back and forth; she spins it back and forth.
Round and rounds, up and down.
She spins it back and forth.

She spins it in and out; she spins it in and out.
Round and round, up and down.
She spins it in and out.

She spins it good and strong; she spins it good and strong.
Round and round, up and down.
She spins it good and strong.

The spider catches a fly; the spider catches a fly.
Round and round, up and down.
The spider catches a fly.

I closed with a reminder to pick up this month's early literacy kit for a couple of great spider crafts, and invitation to the next storytime, and a good-bye song.

How It Went

It went pretty well as far as I could tell, but as usual there was no live interaction during the broadcast, nor any comments later. There were a decent number of views I suppose, but I just really doubt kids are watching and engaging. With my moving to this area and library six months into the pandemic, I had no pre-existing relationships or audience to draw on, and I know it's just incredibly difficult for young kids to engage in this format. But I did have a cool background, though it was at the expense of some of the illustrations in the first book.

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