Do you remember the trouble I had with my worm center? I was so excited to get a tankful of soil and worms into the library for our students to observe. Then, those bashful worms burrowed into the soil, and we never saw them again (until I took them home to my garden).
So...determined to observe live animals, I ordered a tarantula from our regional service center. When it arrived, I got to dump live crickets into its tank for food (a little tricky, since they jumped as I tried to dump them). And then I closed the lid and waited.
On the first day, I thought it was the worm center all over again. The tarantula (maybe it was stressed from the journey across town?) stayed in its little hut.
But the next day, it was ready to come out and explore.
So, here's how I set up this center. I put out a basket of spider books, both fiction and nonfiction.
I made a posterboard, with the words "Tarantula: draw what you see, write what you see" at the top, and lined spaces for students to write or draw in. I just used a yardstick and a sharpie, nothing fancy. I put out a basket of markers for the students.
Here's what the center looks like before and after school. But during the day? It is packed with students! They've really been intrigued by our tarantula.
They're checking out the spider books, writing and drawing their observations, and having good conversations.
Here is a look at our observations. The first week, the prompt on the posterboard was "draw what you see or write what you see."
The second week, the writing prompt was, "what should we name the spider? why?"
What a variety of answers we had! The spider was lively, moved around quite a bit, and was really fun to observe. I'm ready to try another animal when we have to send our tarantula back.
Do you have a live animal in your library? Tell us about it!