TB and EB shared their own rattlesnake story. I took this opportunity to start an exploration of snakes, "What do you guys know about snakes?" I asked. "They eat eggs!" IR exclaimed. "What else do they eat?" As we discussed a serpent's diet we were able to examine how snakes can swallow prey larger than their mouths. Movement also became a source of play and exploration. We decided that snakes "slither" on their bellies. Once outside, IR and EB invented the game of baby rattlesnakes in which the preschoolers would lay on a skateboard and slide across the ground. This allowed them to explore how a snake moves with its belly. "Do snakes move in s straight line?" I asked. After we determined that snakes move in an S shape, the preschoolers used their arms to move the skateboards in a curving motion. This proved more difficult than the straight line but was an fun way to develop coordination.
Much of our information about snakes came from a Fun With Nature book. While the classroom's interest in snakes developed spontaneously, I noticed the preschoolers were curious for more information, especially about rattlesnakes. We learned that rattlesnakes can grow up to 8 feet long. Yikes! Story time allowed us to talk about new snake facts. Which ones are poisonous? How fast can they go? Where can we find them? What do they eat? The preschoolers were intrigued by the fact that snakes shed their skin, do not have eyelids and smell with their tongues. Much of these facts were modeled in our play.
Some pensive preschoolers during story time. Can't you see their minds working?
We also discussed boa constrictors. Preschoolers were fascinated by the different methods snakes employ in order to attack their prey. "How do boa constrictors attack their prey?" I asked. "They squeeze" IR responded. We then tightly squeezed ourselves (not others however). This play carried over to outside play.
Preschoolers carrying a "boa constrictor"
So what can we surmise from all of this snake play? Movement seems especially important. From crawling on our bellies, to slithering motions, to constricting modeling snakes allows us to move our bodies in inventive ways. Where will our play take us next? I will continue to find books about snakes and present snake-themed provocations. Also, this event offers an interesting way to examine snakes through mythology and storytelling. If interested, let me know! I'd love to get a group together and check it out!