I heard the yell come from my students, “spider!” and I knew I had to act quickly to save a helpless creature. One of my 4 year olds had the spider, actually a harvester (an arachnid with 6 legs and one body segment, often called daddy long legs. They don’t spin webs, just creep around like tiny beans on stilts). He was just raising his hands to crush the creepy crawly, when I shouted, “D—, Stop, don’t kill it. We don’t kill bugs in our class. We are scientists. We watch them and see what they do.” I could see by the expression on his face that his mind was shifting from the automatic reaction to a thinking place. A three year old came over and said, “OOh a spider!” and ran to me and said ‘Teacher there’s a spider over there, come and kill it.” “We don’t kill spiders here. We watch them closely to see what they are like and what they do. ” “Oh,” she said and wandered away, I thought aimlessly, but she went over to the science table and grabbed the magnifying glass and raced over to the boy guarding the spider. She handed it to him. He took the magnifying glass and looked very close at it. We counted the legs and looked at the body. The harvester survived until later when it was run over by a hit and run stroller wielded by a princess cowboy on her way back to the house. No one mourned the poor wee beastie, but at least they got to know it a bit better before its untimely demise.
All you backyard zoology fans stay tuned for my commentary on worm wrangling.