Program: We Learn From Spiders

Sp id e r s Butterflies
Turtles Beavers Trees
Sheep Air Flowers Nests

Part 1 - Natural Slowing and Focus

We all know how much children love being outside and exploring. Most kids from very young through elementary can just pick up a worm or roly-poly without hesitation. They also can’t get enough of the zoo and the aquarium. It is apparent that it is in our make-up to interact with the natural world around us…but, sadly we also seem to grow out of it. However, before our children grow up and become like us, lets take advantage of nature’s components that children relate to so well…which make what’s in our own backyards perfect, readily available teaching material!

 Nature does indeed give us even more gifts...if we but take this readily available opportunity and use it!*

What are really important things to remember when beginning to teach younger children is to continue that natural connectedness they have with the created world.  This means to bring in to the curriculum a continuous stream of nature-based activities as early as possible that keep their interest alive and their hearts open.

We know that the years from birth to about 5 or 6 years of age are important years. During this time the foundation of a persons heart, mind and personality are formed. Thus, this is the time to instill the things that are the most important! Therefore, it would behoove us to keep this very basic and innate connection with the created world active for as long as we can, especially during the early years.

The following is just one example of what we can learn from the created world…and what we can instill in our children’s hearts. This is just one of many lessons that I offer you.....

*Please note - Even though "the earlier the better" IS better of any age can benefit ...and sometimes greatly benefit ...from these lessons. It is truly never too late to start.


In this fast paced world, with all of the challenges we all already of the things that I’ve seen happening over and over again, is how much children have learned to hurry, right along with society. This learned behavior has spilled into the classroom and has effected focus... and focus needs a strong measure of slowing in order to do it‘s job well. Try to have focus in chaos! Attempt it when your mind is thinking about a multitude of things because of all the stimulus around you! Endeavor to pay attention to a specific task when on the go...or even just when everyone else around you is moving!

Our roots are in the natural world. Therefore, when we have brought our children back to what feels so natural and familiar...then we won't have to push and prod and cajole.  Our kids begin focusing because they have first learned to **observe and get to know the things that already delight them and hold their interest. Then after that they practice what they have observed, which then enriches their understanding...then those experiences are normalized when this 'practicing' becomes a regular part of the environment.

From the things they can relate to, they learn a slowing down and an attentiveness that makes a significant difference now and in the life-long learning process...

As the first example, lets use the spider and it‘s web...which is just one of many activities I offer...and can be adjusted to fit the ages and stages of the children. I've had children as young as three and as old as 12 get a lot out of well as children with special needs.

 The learning concepts that are/or can be presented in this lesson: fine motor, slowing down, focus, patience, self-regulation, natural consequences, better study habits, completing a task successfully, all life works hard and is rewarded, empathy for other living things.

*Also, God's design and how we learn from it, appreciation of God and His creation, stewardship of God's creation, and more.

The spider spins an intricate, yet strong web…and naturally does so with patience and perseverance. When a child can place themselves in the “shoes” of the spider and perhaps experience a little bit of what it takes to create something so strong, useful and beautiful…then they begin understanding that it is not natural to hurry through IF they want a successful outcome. Using the image of a finished web is a perfect tool to use when endeavoring to instill these “spider attributes” into the study habits of our children.

I use some very select Montessori ideas in my curriculum. This one is punching holes into a design. A special punching tool can be bought, however, I use a large tack with a head on it. Then a piece of foam rubber…at least the size of the picture being used and at least ¾ - 1” thick. This is placed under the picture on a hard surface. I have found that this punching exercise not only enhances small motor, but just as important -  patience, focus and in the manner I have used it, as a way to closely relate and empathize with the spider and it's hard work. This one task has a host of it also helps a child relate to the world around them…which also helps to create a heart of stewardship and appreciation for the created world.

This in turn, helps them learn about life itself....especially in the way it was first intended.

As you see in this image, the punching begins in the middle and goes one punch after the other from there, till the end is reached. Each punch is close to the one already done. In this process…and especially when we/they are learning how to punch…the children are encouraged to take their time like the spider would. To remind the children that the spider would not skip over places when making it's web, because then it would not be strong and beautiful. The web would not be able to hold a fly for it’s dinner and it would soon fall apart! Taking time to read about spiders is a good way to start out at the time this exercise is presented, explained and demonstrated.

Children will 1st have a tendency to hurry through, as this is what most children have learned. Their mindset has been to finish and reach the end. It will take time and patience on your part to help them see that the process is the most important part. Why? Because if the spider reached the end but the web couldn‘t hold her dinner, the spider would have wasted all it‘s time and energy. She then would have to go back and do it all over again…and no one wants to have to do that! During this process it is important to emphasize how much we can truly can learn from spiders and the world around us!!

In order for the children to truly learn the concepts of each exercise they must finish...from beginning to end, successfully. It is therefore important that they 'make the choice to finish' as much as possible...because again, our pushing towards a deadline will usually only encourage them to hurry again, and they will not feel and experience the rewards of their own success.

 In this particular one, success means without big gaps between punches. All activities bring payment and reward. The spider's payment is a fly and a strong place to live. Our pay is; we are learning to slow down to see & experience the accomplishments, and then we get paid as well, just like the spider does...and also very much like our parents do when they do their job well!

 The children come to know that through their patient and careful hard work they can successfully finish a task, and get paid with inward as well as outward rewards...

In one of my classrooms I had a treasure box that the children could choose one thing from as their outward reward/payment. *In your case, depending on age, or the things that your child would perceive as a reward, you might have the payment be something else. This was a decorated box that I loaded with stickers, hair items, little games, dollar store items, little books and etc. The parents and (especially the) children often enjoyed contributing to it.

 Some of the children took several days to finish the web (for example), but I wanted them to decide how long they took and then ultimately when and if they would get paid. I also (of course) did not want them to hurry through because I set a this would be counter, this curriculum also promotes self-regulation (natural consequences) along with the other concepts.

*Note - For younger children I found that having a treasure box created further some of the children had a difficult time understanding why their parents made them come to school rather than being home with them. So, they began to comprehend that it is due to hard work and doing a good job that their parents were able to get paid and then pay for their house, food, clothes, toys and etc. Therefore, it gave them a much better understanding of why and what their parents did while they were at school. Not only this, but they began to have a better understanding all around of what hard work does for everyone!

Please contact me at for more information about my program and with any questions."We Learn From Spiders" Jenny Sorge (copyrighted)

*I would encourage a touch and feel/observation table be set up several days before any given task/lesson is begun. For this one, perhaps a real web that has been found on a nature walk, books about spiders, pictures of spiders, a live spider in an appropriate container, pictures of spiders to color, a counting spiders game  and whatever else your creativity thinks up!.
**Consult professionals to make sure your child has no outstanding biological and/or cognitive issues that may inhibit any program of learning before starting your child(ren) in any learning program.
*This program can be wonderfully used in a faith-based classroom. Romans 1:19-20 God has revealed Himself through His creation.


  1. Jenny, I really appreciate the way that you use different parts of creation to help younsters to learn practical lessons about life. Very unique and very well done. Lord bless you.

    1. I know this is a little overdue, but wanted to say how I appreciate your comment and also your wisdom on your blog!! Thank you!!