Story Time with Erna #4: A Spider in the Pond? Understanding Concepts of Daily Living

This narrative is aimed at increasing children’s understanding of daily concepts by enhancing curiosity and engagement in everyday life events. It promotes close observation and inquiry based on what we see. Like before, I set the stage for the narrative by going through the concepts to ensure that children have some understanding of the main concepts in the narrative. The URLs are included to provide you with easy access to pictures and ideas to expand on your discussion with the children.

Preparation: Enhancing Conceptual Understanding

Here are some of the most important concepts highlighted in this short narrative. Although some of the concepts may be too difficult for some children, it is important to expose all children to all the concepts. Children learn by being exposed to new information and contexts even though each child will derive different meaning from the interaction. How children are able to participate in this activity is not as important as the experience they share with others in finding answers to the questions. The engagement in and enjoyment of the interaction is of primary importance.

  • Weather: For this blog I start off by setting the context in terms of the weather. I do this by contrasting different weather patterns: Indiana is cold, icy, wet, and snowy. South Africa is hot and dry, with little rain. Lack of rain often means that there is a water shortage.
  • Spider: Spiders have a body and legs and live on land, mostly in dry places. Pay particular attention to the physical resemblance, i.e., shape of a spider and its color to contrast with the spider in the pond.
  • Cracked ice: Looks like/not the same as/different from a real spider. Did the crack stay the same/change over time?
  • Feelings and experiences: Excited, curious. In addition to this narrative, the first story in the series also deals with playing a trick on someone.

The Narrative: A Spider in the Pond?

The context: Indiana and South Africa

I now live in Bloomington, Indiana, and it can get very cold here in winter. The trees are covered in snow and the pond in front of the house is frozen up. This weather is very different from the weather I experienced when I grew up in South Africa. South Africa is much warmer, and we seldom see snow there. The ponds in South Africa never really freeze up. Sometimes it gets so hot and dry in South Africa that people get worried that there might not be enough water for the people, animals, and plants.

In Bloomington, Indiana, however, we do not need to worry about too little water. There is enough water in the ponds and lakes for all to use. So today I want to tell you something more about the pond in front of our house.

The Spider in the Pond

We have some new neighbors here in Bloomington. I particularly like Peter and his sister Jillian. Peter is 6 years old and Gillian is 3. We often meet each other outside to play or just to walk around in the snow. However, yesterday something exciting happened. I was walking around outside when Jillian and Peter came running up to me. Their eyes were big, as they were very excited:

Frozen spider
Close-up of spider

“Come look! There is a huge spider in our pond. It is very big!” I shook my head. That can’t be—spiders do not live in ponds! Spiders can’t swim. Spiders live on land and usually like to be in dry places. But, to tell the truth, I was quite curious about this spider in the pond. I was wondering how a spider could get into a frozen pond?

We walked to the pond and, to my surprise, there was a giant spider in the pond. Can you see it from the picture above? One can see the spider’s body in the middle and then the legs of the spider on the side! It looked just like a spider, but…was it really a spider?

The Trick

Day 2: Frozen spider in the pond

Peter and Gillian looked at me and started to laugh. That was when I realized they were just playing a trick on me! That was not a spider, it was just a crack in the ice. But it surely did look like a spider!

The next morning, we all went outside again to look at the crack in the ice that looked like a spider. This time, we saw it had changed. It snowed again last night, so the crack was getting covered up with snow. Can you see how the crack in the pond changed overnight?

Some Questions to Explore

As always, these questions are intended to initiate and expand interactions with children. We want to enhance more in-depth understanding of the world we live in through meaningful and enjoyable interaction.

  • How can you tell that the spider in the pond is not a real one?
  • What is the color of a real spider?
  • Is the spider on the pond the same color as a real spider?
  • Do you think the crack in the ice will still be there tomorrow? Why?
  • Did the crack on the ice change after the first day? (see Day 2 picture). Why do you think this happened?
  • What do you think will happen to the cracks on the ice when the sun comes out?
  • Can you think of ways in which the spider in the pond was different/the same as a real spider?
  • Have you ever played a trick on someone?

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