Nature Week part 3: Spider Web Wonders

26 May

Age: 3+

Vocabulary: arachnid, spinneret, weave, web, cephalothorax, abdomen, venom

Materials: Paper and pencils (for coloring); cellophane tape and clear double-stick tape of the same width; large sheet of dark-colored paper.

Before you start: Create an orb web on the dark paper.  Use the cellophane tape for the “spokes” and the double-stick tape for the spiral.


1. Ask children if they’ve ever seen a spider.  How did they know it was a spider?  What did it look like?  What was it doing?  Was it on or near a web?  Encourage children to draw a picture of a spider based on their current knowledge.

2. Take the children outside and look for spiders and webs.  Encourage them to share their observations and ideas about spiders.

3. Read a book about spiders and allow the children to look at pictures of spiders.

4. Discuss the function of a spider web – to catch prey.  Ask children why they think that a spider’s prey gets caught in the web, but the spider does not.

5. Show the children the web made out of tape.  Allow them to take turns “tiptoeing” their fingers across the web like a spider.  What do they notice?  (Not all strands are sticky.  Spiders may avoid the sticky strands.)  Now have a child “fly” into the web with an open palm.  What happens this time?  (They get stuck.  Prey doesn’t tiptoe and hits many sticky strands.)  Many spiders also have special bristles on their feet.  Scientists think the bristles may help them break free from the sticky parts of the web.

Alternate activity for older children: Create a spider refuge

1. Choose a spider web or an area where you have seen a spider.  To help protect the area, create a sign that says “Spider Refuge” so that others will know to be careful.  Quietly observe the spider and collect information about it.  What is the area around the web like?  What color is the spider?  What does it do?  What does it eat?  Use the information to create a book about spiders to share with others.

Extension: Picking Up Vibrations

Spiders use vibrations to sense whether they have caught prey in their web.  Tie a piece of string or yarn between two chairs and stretch it taut.  Have one child (the spider) lightly touch the string with closed eyes.  Have another child (the prey) pluck the string gently, then with more force.  When  can the spider detect the prey?  Let children take turns being the prey and the spider.

Music: “Little Spider Weaves a Web” (to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle”) — Because if I have to sing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” one more time, I’m going to barf!!!

Little spider weaves a web

With some dry and sticky threads

Here comes a fly buzzing by.

Into her web, watch it fly.

Wiggle wiggle, it’s stuck tight.

Spider has her meal tonight.

Snack: Spider Crackers

Spread a round cracker thickly with cream cheese or other spread.  Place another cracker on top, creating a sandwich.  Tuck pretzel sticks into the cream cheese edge to make 8 legs.  Use a small amount of spread to attach 8 sunflower seed eyes and another larger round cracker for the abdomen.  Tasty treat!!!


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