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Activities for the Reading Club's Featured Books

Our featured selections are award-winning books that are obtainable in print from libraries and bookstores, and are also available in alternate formats (electronic or braille). Grade levels are approximate.

Charlotte's Web

By E.B. White

1974. Harper Trophy, NY

Available in braille from the following sources:

1. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
free - Available in braille and Web-braille
(202) 707-5100

2. Seedlings
(800) 777-8552


1. Project #1: Anatomy of an Arachnid
Explore the parts and functions of spiders, through 3-D models. Materials, per spider: half a small bag of cotton balls, 2 feet of tin foil or cellophane, clear tape, liquid glue, 4 sheets of letter-size paper, 1 pipe cleaner, 18 plastic straws, 58 half-inch metal brads, 8 cake decorations,1 black permanent marker. 1. For the body: Form two piles of cotton balls, one longer and more narrow, for the thorax, one rounder, for the abdomen. 2. For the exoskeleton: Wrap the cotton balls in either tin foil or cellophane; tape it shut on the underside. 3. For the eyes: At the front of the thorax (and head), glue two rows of four cake decorations each (most spiders have eight eyes). 4. For the mouth: Below the eyes, push the cellophane in with one finger, and stick a tape ball inside the fold. The resulting crease will be the mouth. 5. For the fangs: Cut a pipe cleaner in half. Bend the pieces into a "c" shape and poke them through the cellophane, just above the mouth. 6. For the legs: Cut two straws into four equal pieces. (Save the eighth piece for Step #8.) Fold two sheets of paper into quarters; trace a cut straw on top. Redraw the rectangle, doubling the length and expanding the width. Cut it out, keeping the paper folded. Punch holes at the end of each rectangle. Overlap the holes and insert the metal brads; each leg should have seven sections. Tape or glue the straw pieces to the paper rectangles. Tape four legs to each side of the body. 7. For the pedipalps, or prolegs: Cut two straws into six sections each, then follow the steps in Step #6 above. Each proleg should have six joints. Tape one proleg to each side of the body, in front of all the other legs. 8. For the spinnerets: Cut the last piece of straw into two small pieces. If you have any patience left, line the straw pieces with paper rectangles, as directed above. Otherwise, tape the two spinnerets alongside each other, at the back of the spider, behind the legs. 9. For the organs: Go online! What you discover can be drawn in marker, on the cellophane.

2. Project #2: Thoughts and Threads
Be like Charlotte and weave your own web messages. Pick a word or two and draw the letters on a wooden board. Then, hammer a series of long, thin nails into the letters (as well as around the perimeter). Weave a long strand of string, yarn, or thread around the letters, then around the outside edge. Then, make spiders by taping pipe cleaner legs to cardboard circles; insert them along the web. Materials: Wooden boards, nails, hammer, string, pipe cleaners, cardboard.

3. Project #3: Proud Pigs
Recreate the state fair pig competition; build two pigs, side by side, out of clay (or try Crayola's "Model Magic.") Fence them in with pig pens made out of popsicle sticks. Twist a blue ribbon bow for "Uncle," and attach it to his pen. Then, tape a section of red ribbon to a penny, and hang the medal around Wilbur's neck. Use more popsicle sticks to build Wilbur's travel crate, and place a cotton ball inside his mouth for Charlotte's egg sac. Materials: Clay, popsicle sticks, thin blue and red ribbon (or yarn), pennies, cotton balls.

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