When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 5

In Part 4, I talked about adventure stories.  A cliffhanger ending holds  the attention in children, and that means more language and words are pouring into their minds.  Teacher bonding is an added bonus.  I told a Jennie Story with plenty of adventure, “The Raccoon Story.”

Part 5
The thrill of adventure stories continue.  Children are now connecting words and scenes with other stories we read aloud.  For example, when  Wilbur the pig was frozen with fear in Charlotte’s Web, a child asked, “Like Steve?”  Yes!  (You will understand after reading the story below.)  Making connections with stories across multiple avenues means critical, divergent thinking is developing.  Wonderful!

The Spider Story

“It happened like this.”  When I was first married we lived in Virginia, which is pretty far south.  The farther south you go, the bigger the bugs are.  Bugs are so much bigger in Virginia than in Massachusetts.  One evening after dinner I brought the dishes into the kitchen, and in the middle of the kitchen floor was the biggest spider I have ever seen.  We’re talking gigantic.  The spider was not moving at all.  I didn’t know what to do, so I yelled for my husband, “Steve!”  He came running into the kitchen, but when he saw the spider he froze.  I mean he totally froze.  He couldn’t even speak.

I asked him to do something, anything, but he just stared at the spider and never moved.  The Spider didn’t move either.  I had to do something, so I opened the cabinet under the sink and got the can of Raid.

At this point in the story the children have no idea what Raid is, or why it would be under the sink.  What should I do? 

I was so scared.  The spider still wasn’t moving.  I had to be brave.  It was up to me to get the spider.  I took a deep breath, shook the can of bug spray, and with trembling fingers I sprayed the Raid on the spider…. and instantly wooosh hundreds of baby spiders burst forth!  They were everywhere.  So, I used my feet and stomped all over the kitchen floor, getting the spiders.  Whew!  To this day, my husband is still afraid of spiders.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Nature, preschool, storytelling, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 5

  1. beetleypete says:

    That’s a ‘serious’ spider story, Jennie. No wonder it enthralls the kids.
    My wife is terrified of spiders, but since living here, I have got more used to them.
    Then again, they are probably a lot smaller than those in Virginia. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I bet they’re smaller. When I tell the story, I make my hands and fingers suddenly go out when I say “wooosh”. Quite enthralling. Best to you, Pete!

  2. ksbeth says:

    yikes, eek! another of your well-told stories. you are a natural, Jennie –

  3. Dan Antion says:

    We used to vacation in Virginia, on a relative’s farm. You are right about the bugs. I don’t mind spiders, but that’s a scary image, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      I tried to find an image that matched my memory. Of course my spider was fatter with babies. That made it doubly scary. Farms in Virginia are lovely!

  4. TanGental says:

    So sad…. poor little arachnid…

  5. Opher says:

    A horror story!!

  6. I could barely force myself to read to the end. I’m so terrified of spiders.

  7. I’m currently reading, “The Good Neighbor, the life and work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King.
    This post just reminds me that Mr Rogers would be proud of your storytelling ways!
    ps-book is good, informative and at times dry – but worth the read.

  8. Darlene says:

    I do think it is important for children to know that even grown-up men can be scared of certain things, like spiders. Do some of the children get upset that you had to kill the baby spiders?

    • Jennie says:

      They don’t get upset, perhaps because I don’t use the word ‘kill’. I tell them I stepped all over them on the floor, and I demonstrate by doing that. Yes, children need to know grownups can be scars, even men.

  9. Ritu says:

    That would totally freak me out!!!

  10. Did you save the pelt?

  11. sjhigbee says:

    What a great story – I had to swallow hard, because I happen to be extremely fond of spiders and insects generally, though I’m aware our English wussy versions don’t compare to your gigantic beasties – but imagined they were mice, instead. I HATE and FEAR rodents and then the story made utter sense to me:))

  12. Instead of killing the big spider, the can of Raid incited a mini-spider riot?!?! Terrifying (shudder). Lucky for the children, you never lived in Florida with the giant cockroaches, aka palmetto bugs.

  13. Oh my gosh.I can relate to your husband. I am terrified of spiders and for good reason 2 years ago I was walking before twilight in my subdivision and a huge black furry spider with furry legs and huge black eyes bit me on my ankle and I started escaping the spider but it came after me and I started running and it ran after me. I have never been so scared. It’s bite was full of venum the size of a golf ball. I had to take 10 days of awful medication, but it left a scar and damaged several blood vessels. I don’t go walking anymore, except in wintertime. Georgia is know for it’s spiders and even has Spider month in October. I don’t attend any halloween get togethers – just kidding, but I am very careful.

  14. Luanne says:

    OMG, now I have arachnophobia! What a crazy thing to have happen from spraying with Raid! Did you ever figure out why that happened?

  15. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this next installment!

  16. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is part 5 in Jennie’s wonderful series–When Teachers Tell Their Stories !

  17. srbottch says:

    I like Steve. He really didn’t freeze, he only pretended so you would take action and learn what to do, yourself. That way, you’ll be prepared the next time. Steve is a crafty guy. You’re a lucky woman. 😉

    • Steve Fitzkee says:

      Thank you Steve! Your astute analysis has saved me another week of shame and embarrassment! Heaven only knows which other old story that she tells her kids will be broadcast to the world – Ugh! Oh, by the way, I really enjoy your wonderful stories and experiences at your crossing! Thanks for sharing!

      • srbottch says:

        Yes, Steve, I thought it was. And I’m only too glad to help. I’m sure that by working together, we’ll get her to see, understand and buy into all your fine qualities. As we say in sales, “Unseen and Untold is Unsold!” 😎

  18. Isha says:

    Hi, would love for you to check out my blog and let me know what you think ☺️

  19. Oh, this is so sad for me. I actually like almost all spiders except for the really poisonous ones, and most of them will avoid you if you don’t threaten them. I wonder if this could have been a tarantula. I guess it will freak everyone out, but I have often helped spiders to get back outside again. And I wrote to Sue Vincent once when she wrote about the horrible creatures slugs are. Actually, in India, and perhaps Pakistan too, many people live with other creatures peacefully as they believe they are sacred.

    I went to our tiny local museum in upper Yucaipa, CA (in the Inland Empire) and there were such incredible displays in such a small museum. One of them was the Spider Lady, who used to constantly work with spiders, catching alive and carefully the venomous ones and the others too and releasing them so that they could do what they do best, which is catching and eating nasty bugs that can be a pain for all of us.

    Perhaps you could tell the children a happy story about how the spiders CAN be helpful to us, but how it is good for them not to live in homes unless there are a lot of bugs in there so that they will not all necessarily grow up to be spider haters. I have, interestingly, never been bitten by a spider and I have handled the Wolf Spiders, Tarantulas, and others that probably would freak out most folks. There are a lot of interesting facts about spider webs and the things they can make and how strong they are. They can be absolutely beautiful, and different spiders spin different kinds of webs too. They are used as markers in some kinds of telescopes, etc. It might open some doors, and that is always a good thing. I can understand the fear thing though, and I feel that way about roaches, which have to be the worst. And I don’t like rats either, and we have had to deal with those as they come into our mobile home from outside, up through the places where pipes and electrical wires come in. You would be surprised at how small of holes they need or create to get in, often destroying other things you would not imagine. Not nice, and we had to get rid of them. They are too smart for glue traps or even the traps that you bait, so we had to use poison and put it where our pets could not get it. My Richard had to pick the deceased up with a pickup stick and put them in the trash outside as they all decided to die where we would find them I guess as payback. Thank you kindly.

    • Jennie says:

      I actually DO like spiders. I have units on spiders and bugs, teaching children about the animals in our own backyard. It is amazing what fear can do and how our protective instincts kick in. The story, to children, is more about their teacher having to be brave. It is more of a ‘I can do it’ empowering message to children. The way I tell it, they don’t come away with killing a spider as a message. That’s a good thing! Thank you, Anne. 🙂

  20. petespringerauthor says:

    Isn’t it interesting how some of us are frightened by one thing and others by something else. Spiders don’t bother me in the least, but it gives me the creeps to handle a snake.

    I can hear your students laughing in delight when you get to the part where the baby spiders are on the rampage.

  21. best way to get rid of a spider is with a vacuum. Take the head off the end of the wand and simply suck it up.
    A local store had problems with Wasps coming into the sweet pastries. I told the manager to vacuum them up and put the vacuum in the freezer overnight. No fuss no muss!
    Btw,what kind of spider was it?

    • Yes, that is true. If they learn to be brave when something scary comes along, it is a good thing. I am glad you put that in. I only felt bad for the spider because she was in process of giving birth to her babies. Of course that would not have been great to have a houseful of them, but it is that mothering instinct that got in my way. It is ok though. Many things like this happen thru life and we have to deal with them, so that is really a good lesson too. Thanks for always contributing something wonderful for the children.

      • I use a vacuum to get rid of mosquitoes,flies and spiders.We get those nasty Hobo spiders now. They get thirsty and go into the porcelain sinks or tubs. They smell the water but after getting a much needed drink find they cannot climb back out due to it being porcelain! Which is why we always find them in the tub or sink……BUSTED!
        Thats when I say “stay right there while I get the vacuum”!

      • Jennie says:

        Thanks, Anne!

    • Yes, some bee catchers vacuum them up and then put them into bee hives where most of them will survive. It takes them awhile to figure out what has happened but overall they are not hurt, so that is a good way to catch bees and relocate them. It is only putting the vacuum into the freezer that will kill them off.

    • Jennie says:

      Good to know! I have no idea what type of spider it was, I think fear was taking over any other thoughts. 🙂

  22. swamiyesudas says:

    Wow! Little spiders springing forth from the large one! That is Scary indeed, my Dear Jennie! 🙂

  23. Oh, no Jennie, I don’t particularly love spiders but I big one like that would freak me out a bit too. I always force myself to catch them though as I don’t like to kill spiders. I catch them in a box and through them over the neighbour’s wall. Hopefully he doesn’t read your blog [he he].

  24. I think you got the full attention of the kids. Coming home i think they began seeking spiders at home. 😉 Michael

  25. Norah says:

    Your story makes me think of Charlotte and her babies. I don’t like big spiders around either and we do occasionally get a big one in the house. They often hide away where we can’t see them so I usually try to pretend I haven’t seen it. (Oh why did I look just as it ran across the wall!) We usually try to get them outside if they hang around too long. That is, I call Hub and he does his best to get them outside. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      It does remind remind me of Charlotte and her babies, too. I have heard that spiders in Australia are BIG. 😳 Like you, I often pretend I haven’t seen one. Sigh!

      • Norah says:

        Some of them are quite big, and some can give a nasty bite. I try to avoid them as much as I can. I think they might do the same to me! 🙂

  26. My daughter won’t let me kill most spiders even though she is seriously allergic to their bites. I’ve been bitten through my shirt outside by a big one hanging from a tree that I didn’t see. Took months before the swelling healed up. Like you, I am no longer afraid of them but having them swarm like that could send me over the edge. You were very brave. I like that we have them because, like bats, they are necessary. I just don’t want them flying at me. You tell that story in such a way that you had me pulled in too. 😉 You have storytelling down to an art form. Thanks for this one. I’m still behind.

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