Arachnophobia: Grade 4 Art Happening

What a wonderful group of grade fours!  They were very intense about their art…from the very beginning until the very end.

I began the class by asking the students what makes people scared of spiders.  We thought about why they have become a symbol and decoration for creepy times like Halloween.  We shared all of the types of spiders we know about from library books, movies, stories and experience.  We talked for a while about Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

In their visual journals, the students designated a BEFORE page and an AFTER page.  I asked them to draw a spider, with their own knowledge and understanding and idea of what a spider looks like.  It could be entirely imaginary or be based on something they’ve seen before.  They were asked to add as much detail as possible.

The variety of interpretations was amazing.  I love love love their BEFORE images.



Next, I showed the students a YouTube video…great guy…easy going and enjoyable script, “How to Draw a Red Back Spider.”  I have never been a big fan of HOW TO DRAW books, but honestly, when a class is swelling to 29 to 32 students…the YouTube Video is a way for the teacher to filter around the classroom, assist and support students.  If you are doing a demonstration/explanation at the front of the room, with your back to the students, really you are less engaged with them and more being a ‘bit of a show off’. I’m laughing as I type this.  Do what you want!  It’s just that, very late in the game, I’ve discovered that these little videos are superb for the Depiction part of a lesson.

This guy is great.

The very same students who had created the BEFORE drawings posted above, drew the following AFTER depictions.


I didn’t have a lot of time for prep…was busy eating up a bowl of homemade leek and potato soup, so I grabbed black and white paint and orange paper and so began the expressive portion of the lesson.

Using chalk for drawing, the students were asked to use their sketches in order to create a Red Back Spider on a web.  The red spot could be coloured after both the spider and web were painted…using a red Mr. Sketch marker.

The resulting BLOW OUT session was remarkable!  A great time seeing students show their own spin on the subject.  I only wish that I had my Canon with me.  But, this will give my readers some ideas.






Observations and Lessons While Staining a Fence

Tools of the Trade

Observe closely the 500 and the 501 at the bottom of my cans of Behr Premium Deck, Fence & Siding Weatherproofing Wood Finish…notice the words Transparent on the can to the left and Wood-Toned on the can to the right!  Sigh.  A recommendation…before beginning a paint or stain project, check your can labels.  No harm done!  Because I hadn’t tinted my stains, the store will take the ‘opened’ can back.  I didn’t so much as dip my brush into the can before I noticed the warm red tint to the wood-toned stain compared to the relatively yellowish tint to the transparent product.  (Just thought I’d mention this for any and all stainers out there!)  The fence, deck and bench have been successfully completed and it all looks wonderful!

A few observations…the sparrows that pooped on the deck yesterday, will also poop on it today…and likely tomorrow, as well.  Try to get your backyard staining done in the shortest number of days possible!  In my case, I worked for five mornings straight…this allowed for the bird population to do its ‘dirty’ again and again, making my morning clean-up an integral part of my staining event.  Something to think about.

Spider webs and balls of WHAT?  Ok, I remember loving the story, Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  Did any of my readers enjoy that book as much as I did?  In fact, one of the reasons I loved teaching Grade five at one point was so that I could read that novel again to a class of students…just so that I could cry again, at the ending.

As I stained the fence, I kept wiping away the balls of fuzz (egg cases) that were tucked into the hidden corners of the fence boards.  As I wiped, I thought about Charlotte and her babies.

Another observation…I saw the drips of former staining events.  My recommendation is that while staining, keep going back and lightly blending in the drips that just a short while before had been transparent (if you chose transparent stain) because given a little bit of drying time, these will look like this!


 Something else I thought about while staining, was whether or not I wanted to do each individual board from top to bottom and bob up and down continually or tackle the job like this?  In the end, I settled on this approach because for the lower half, I moved my work stool along and avoided the wear and tear on my knees. 

It’s interesting how doing repetitive work of any kind becomes a total meditation and how much the mind really DOES wander.  I kept trying to bring my mind back to prayer and then after a time, these senseless worries and thoughts would creep in. 

Next, I hope to write about the time I shared with my daughter yesterday afternoon.  We canned a nice batch of salsa together.  Chopping thirty cups of tomatoes is similar to staining fence boards.  I’ll explain in another post.  For now, I’m off to oil my feast table with tung oil.

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