Wednesday, January 19, 2011


ARACHNID WORLD is a brand new series of mine just being launched by Lerner Publishing. There will be twelve books when the series is complete so these first six books are the first half: BLACK WIDOWS, Deadly Biters; SCORPIONS, Armored Stingers; HARVESTMEN, Secret Operatives; TICKS, Dangerous Hitchhikers; WOLF SPIDERS, Mothers on Guard; ORB WEAVERS, Hungry Spinners. And they provide a dynamite introduction to these amazing creatures. Until I started researching this series, I never realized how many different kinds of arachnids there are. Or how many of them carry out their lives right under our noses--well, make that our feet. I can guarantee these books will make you take a closer look at the wildlife you might not normally give a second glance.

For those of you with children, and those of you who are still curious kids at heart, I'd like to offer the following activities as a way to investigate ARACHNID WORLD. You see I was a full time teacher for 11 years, an educational consultant for decades, and the Mom of two--plus a pal to any neighborhood kid interested in exploring with me. So I just couldn't let you think the ARACHNID WORLD books were only for reading. I think of them as "explorers guides for the naturally curious". Here's some discovery ideas for you.

WHAT IS AN ARACHNID? Check out the introduction in each book to see how the featured arachnid is different from one of its cousins, such as an insect, a centipede, or a horseshoe crab.

LETS MOLT All arachnids molt, or shed an armor-like exoskeleton, as they grow bigger. Get a feel for what this is like in this fun relay race. Form a group into two teams. Supply each team with a long sleeve pullover shirt or sweatshirt. One that's likely to be small enough to be a snug fit to most players is best. Start the race by having the first person put on the shirt. Their job is to then molt (peel off the shirt) and pass it to the next player on the team. That person must put the shirt on, peel it off, and pass it on. The team that completes it's molt first wins. Of course, please remember that arachnids usually molt while hanging on upside-down.

BIGGEST! LITTLEST! Check the "How Big" section in the back of each book. Next, sort the ARACHNID WORLD books so they are arranged from the one whose featured creature in the largest to the one that's the smallest.

HELPFUL OR HARMFUL Check out the "Helpful Or Harmful" section in the back of each book. Sort the books into two piles, those whose featured arachnids are mainly helpful to people and those that are mainly harmful.

FAMILY AFFAIR Read the featured life story in each book. Sort the books into two sets: those who have a parent guard the eggs or young and those that abandon their young as soon as the eggs are deposited.

BORN ALIVE Check out the "Becoming Adults" chapter in each book. Sort the books into two sets: those whose females deposit their eggs and those that carry the eggs inside their bodies and give birth to live young.

ACTION PACK Take time to do the activity shared in each book. These let you develop special insights into the featured arachnid's life.

BLACK WIDOW TAG Write the Glossary words on index cars. Write the definitions on separate index cards. Shuffle these two decks together. Lay the cards, words down, on a table. Take turns turning over two cards. Collect the cards when a words and definition match. When a match is made, the player continues playing until he or she fails to make a match. If there's any doubt about a match, check the book's Glossary. When all the matches are completed, the player with the most matches wins.

MYSTERY ARACHNID Each player is given a different ARACHNID WORLD book, They'll need to read this in advance and identify key traits. Once the game starts, each player offers up one clue through actions or by coaxing responses out of the audience, charade style. The first player whose mystery arachnid is correctly identified wins.

A STAR IS BORN Decide which arachnid is your favorite. Offer five reasons why it should be everyone's favorite. FEEL FREE TO EMAIL THOSE TO ME.

WHO EATS WHO? Pick one featured arachnid. Write its name in a cirle in the center of a sheet of paper. Read the book about it and look closely at the photos. Find out what that arachnid eats. Write the name of each prey animal on the paper. Draw a black arrow from the prey to the featured arachnid. Now, look for predators that eat the featured arachnid. DWrite their names on the paper. Draw a red arrow from each of these predators to the featured arachnid.

THE GOOD LIFE Pick one featured arachnid. Read the book about it to discover what environmental condition it needs to live. Use a shoe box. Build a diorama of a good home for this arachnid. Be sure to include a model or a picture of the arachnid in its home. Add a note on the outside of the box telling how long this arachnid can be expected to live, or its normal life span.

A TALE IN THREE LINES Choose a featured arachnid. Write a haiku about it. Haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry that tells something special about a subject in just three short, non-rhyming lines.
Here's an example to start your creative juices flowing.

Lone hunter spinning
Silken traps enduring
Fangs the only weapon

For even more action visit Lerner Publishing's eSource by clicking on this link

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