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The Very Busy Spider and Yarn play

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

A spider works diligently on her web as different farm animals ask her to come out and play. The spider doesn’t answer, but continues work on her web until it is finished and she is able to catch a fly!

Spider and Yarn Play

Let’s create like spiders with our very own pretend ‘silk’!

Materials: The Very Busy Spider, photos of spiders and each way they use silk (web, egg sack, drag line/parachute, wrapped prey), yarn, bucket or bowl to gather nature treasures OR if you’re indoors, gather nature treasures beforehand.


  1. After reading the story, ask your child “What do spiders use to create their webs?”. Pull out yarn and say “We don’t make silk from our bodies, but I have this yarn and it can help us play like a spider!” 

  2. Chat with your child about the yarn using as many of the senses as possible. Let them touch and manipulate the yarn, wonder what it feels like, smells like, sounds like, and looks like.

Guide Play:

  1. Spiders use their silk for so many things! They create webs, wrap up their prey, protect their eggs, and even transport themselves (drag line/parachute). (if possible, look at photos of each of these examples).

  2. After showing images of or chatting about each of the above examples, wonder with your explorer “What can we do with our yarn?”

  3. Need ideas? Some examples for play include:

  4. Create a Web - wrap yarn between two trees or the legs of a table.

  5. Spider Moves - pretend to move like spiders then try moving through your large web like spiders.

  6. Wrap-Up - gather nature treasures and pretend they are an insect for the spider to eat! Wrap them up the way a spider would.

  7. Guessing game - pre-wrap nature treasures or toys and encourage your child to guess what they could be. Or, let them unwrap each one and guess as they go! 

  8. Drag lines and Parachutes - Baby spiders sometimes use their silk like a parachute to transport them after hatching. Tie a few pieces of yarn to a stick and run with it to see how the yarn catches the wind. For a pretend drag line you can help your child tie a long piece of yarn around their waist.

  9. String Games - are your explorers older? Try out researching and learning string games together such as Cat’s Cradle, Cup and Saucer, or Jacob’s Ladder.

Grown-Up note → These activities are wonderful for many different play facilitation techniques! Here are a few to try out:

  • Model - Show your explorers a way to play with the materials and narrate what you are doing.

  • Co-Play - Join in and play right alongside your explorer!

  • Add a Material - Quietly add a new material to your explorers play and see what happens.

  • Mirror - Notice how your child is playing and then, sit nearby and imitate their play.

Want to learn more? Our friends at Tinkergarten have made this awesome Play Facilitation Techniques chart for easy reference!

Celebrate and Wrap Up:

  1. Celebrate  your child’s wonderful play today! No matter how they interacted with the yarn and spider play today, their work was valuable learning! If it works for your family's space, leave up the large web or leave out the wrapped creations for your child revisit later.

What are we learning?

🔹Fine Motor Skills → Generally thought of as the movement and use of hands and upper extremities (include reaching, grasping and manipulating objects with our hands).

🔹Hand Eye Coordination → Fine Motor skills also involve vision, specifically visual motor skills (hand-eye coordination).

🔹Focus and Self-Control → Exploring with yarn gives explorers the chance to follow their interest and stick with the task of creating – which develops their capacity for focus and self-control.

🔹Creativity → This activity is an open-ended invitation that includes engaging and flexible materials and so supports creativity!

🔹Persistence → Yarn is engaging but can be tricky to manipulate so kids have the chance to be flexible and manage a challenge.

More Playful Learning

Looking for more ways to chat about yarn or play like spiders? We love the books Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott. We also love singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and There’s a Spider on the Floor!

Do you live in the CSRA? Join us for Tinkergarten classes! We get together each week to play, learn and explore our outdoor classroom as a community. Learn more about our program or check out our current classes!

I’d love to hear which ideas sparked play and joy with your explorers or if you have any other connections for play! Comment below or tag me in your play on Instagram @magnoliaoutoor.

Wishing you a joyful week of outdoor play and reading!



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