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Diary of a Spider

By Doreen Cronin By the same author of Click Clack Moo and Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider contains humor, facts, and many, many teaching ideas. The book is organized in diary form by date; however, a journal entry does not appear for every day, an element which helps students to see that they don't have to write in a personal diary every day in order to keep one. They just need to write in it whenever then have time. Language Arts Grammar March 29 (date entry in book): Secondary - For a quick mini-lesson on complex and/or compound/complex sentences, point out the sentence, "When I got home, I made up flash cards so I could practice." Take just a minute to point out the subordinate clause and the independent clauses; also point out the comma rule for an introductory subordinate clause. April 1: Elementary and Intermediate - Take a minute to point out the contraction "didn't" on these two pages. It's a quick teachable moment to get in some good teaching about what a contraction is and also the use of the apostrophe in a contraction. Reading · Secondary - Read The Spider and the Fly to your students. (Howitt, Mary Botham. The Spider and the Fly. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002. 0-689-85289-4.) This book is an updated version of the poem about a spider who preys on the vanity and innocence of a fly. The ghoulish black and white illustrations make the book almost a melodrama ­ something secondary students will particularly enjoy. Students can equate the story of the spider and how he tries to lure the fly to a subject in their daily lives, creating an allegory of sorts. For example, drugs and drug dealers are represented by the fly whereas the fly represents the innocent victim who falls for the siren song of drugs. Students can brainstorm countless similar situations they encounter throughout their school day that align with the fable. This activity can well become a DAVE lesson. Writing · Diary of a Spider may be used to teach the writing trait of organization. The book is organized in a chronological order that younger students can easily grasp. Older students can dialogue about the pros and cons of organizing a composition in this fashion. Students can also see from the book that a journal does not have to have a daily or even a weekly entry to be effective. · Spiders have always held a spooky fascination to mankind. Allow students to write about spiders. They may write about spiders in general, about a pet spider, about a time when a spider frightened them, about their fears and/or fascination, spider research ­ many ideas are there for spiders. A humorous poem about spiders would be fun for students, and so would a personification story somewhat like Diary of a Spider. This is a great time to teach a lesson on voice.

Science · March 1: At Grandparents' Day at school, Grandpa imparted his wisdom to Spider and his fellow students. Grandpa taught three facts: Spiders have eight legs and, therefore are not insects; 2) Insects could take over the world if there were no spiders; and 3) for a little humor and personification, butterflies taste better with a little barbecue sauce. As a short research activity, students can locate more facts about spiders and write a longer speech for Grandpa. This activity can be adapted for most ages of student depending on the depth in which you would like for them to go. It also adapts easily for various ability levels within a classroom. Most ages. · March 16: Students can do a Venn Diagram, double bubble, or other type of map to compare and contrast the attributes of a spider and a fly. See "Reading" for poetry connection. · April 1: For younger students, have them experiment with weights to find out why the seesaw and the tire swing didn't work. Did weight have anything to do with why their playtime at the water fountain worked? Students may dialogue about which activities are appropriate for a spider and which aren't. What activities are appropriate for children and why? Could the seesaw and swing be unsafe for spiders? What on the playground could be unsafe for children? Students could make a class booklet about playground safety and fun. · April 12 & 13: Younger students can compare vacuum cleaner safety for spiders with a safety drill they may have learned, such as fire safety. · Many of the diary entries feature humorous situations involving attributes of spiders such as eating habits, shedding skin, and molting. Students can use the same format to research and write a humorous report on another living thing the class may be studying, such as a frog.

©Copyright ­ Susan Stitt, 2005. Permission is granted for use in direct classroom instruction only.

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