On Monday, July 14, I exhibited a collaboration of student work and my own work, as well as the incorporation of interactive sections of the show in the University Center Gallery on the University of Montana Campus. Between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., I had nearly 90 kids between the ages of 2 and 10 visit the gallery. They came in groups on scheduled hours. These groups included Miss Kiddy's Corral, ASUM Childcare, a YMCA Summer Camp, and a group of international grad students from China, as well as individual visitors: Moms, Dads, and their kids.
With the help of three amazing volunteers, Syd Faul, Lindsey Weber, and Brianna McLean, we were able to successfully transition the groups (split into smaller groups of three) through each interactive, educational section. The sections allowed kids to imagine themselves as the insects, touch and smell parts of the natural world, as well as contribute their own touch to the art.
We had the pleasure of hosting special guests, Animal Wonders to Miss Kiddy's. They brought along some very important animals that help to disperse seeds, pollinate plants, and fertilize the soil while also protecting over population of other animals.
During this time, some students got to hold cockroaches, pet a very furry rabbit named Cheeks, and even hold a large female bull snake. We got our spider senses reawakened when they brought out their large tarantula!
The spider lesson had everyone excited, but not nervous. While I did not have a real spider for us to look at, we compared plastic 'bugs' to differentiate between spiders and insects: eight legs vs six legs.
We watched an animated video about the way that a spider uses its web to determine whether or not whatever lands onto its web is prey or a potential mate.
I told a Cherokee creation story about Grandmother Spider, who brought sun to the dark side of the Earth. The students were able to make pinch pots just as Grandmother Spider did in the story.
We made a giant spider web by rolling a ball of colorful yarn back and forth, to and fro, between each other. This provided a great sense of team and community and the students loved it.
We finished by making glow in the dark spider art and later the students were able to paint their very own spider bodies made of clay.
My name is Abby Sweet. I grew up in Stockett, Montana and I have lived in Missoula, Montana for over 10 years.