It’s alive! Fun with in-class creatures

We set up terrariums in my class. See my last post for the thrilling explanation of how we found the critters we put in it! The terrariums are part of a science kit we purchased to teach soil. We’re technically supposed to order the dirt and the organisms that go in the terrariums. That seemed crazy to some of us, though. In a country where some schools can’t afford books, I would feel really guilty spending money on dirt.

So we used the abundance of nature outside our back door, and made some great little mini environments!

This morning every kid was plastered to their groups terrarium, looking at pill bugs, salamander heads poking out from the soil, and slug slime. It was awesome.

During this time, we noticed some clusters of small, yellow eggs in some of the terrariums. Then in more of them. They were not there when I got in at 7:30, but they were there by 10! Even after researching them, I have no idea what they are.

One little girl had found a spider in the hall she wanted to add to her terrarium. She showed me, and I noted the the poor thing was half squished and missing some legs. She assured me it was fine, so we added it to the pile. It shriveled in on itself and appeared very dead.

Half an hour later, we were drawing pictures of the terrariums, when the girls in dead spider group started shrieking, “It’s moving! It’s alive! It isn’t dead!” I chalked this up to wishful thinking.

Then…

“It’s laying eggs! It’s having babies! It isn’t eggs, it’s having baby spiders!” I still thought they were exaggerating, until my assistant glanced in and then looked at me with a look of pure horror. I ran over, and sure enough, hundreds of baby spiders were crawling out of the corpse of the dead spider. Awesome.

This is one of the times when I think teachers deserve Oscars.

In my very arachnophobic head I’m screaming Kill it! Kill them all! Aaaahhhh!” But I didn’t want to pass on my fear, or set a precedent that killing is ok.

So I blurted out something about the babies deserving to be born in freedom, and decided we should set them free! I asked my poor assistant to bring the girls out to free the monstrous babies. I practically shoved them out of the room, yelling at one to get a spoon to scoop them and go, go NOW!”

Then I defused a situation in which another group hypothesized that if they killed their spider, it would have babies!

The spider group came back in, gleeful smile on the girls face, resigned horror on my assistants. By the time they got out, all the little horrors had disappeared into the grass and soil of the terrariums.

After a frantic, hushed conversation about the likelihood of a spider invasion, it was decided that we would thoroughly “mist” the offending terrarium. Most of the insects we had needed moisture, so we frequently sprayed it. And if this was akin to the great flood instead of a light rain, well, we don’t want the salamanders to dry out, do we?

Spider girls, a.k.a. spider invasion source number 1, seemed sad that we had misted their terrarium,  a.k.a. spider invasion ground zero, into a lake. After it was pointed out that the slug DEFINITELY looked happier, they seemed ok.

All was well until the end of the day, when I noticed that all the tiny mystery eggs had now vanished. Next year I’m paying for sterile dirt.

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