Monday, November 2, 2009

Eight-Legged Learning

Real spiders:  icky and a bit frightening, especially when spotted in your home
Spider crafts:  cute and friendly

So, I must confess, I am still a bit afraid of these 8-legged critters in real life, but I do think they are fascinating.  Here are a few fun spider activities and books that I used in the classroom and am now using at our home preschool.

Let's start with some great spidey books:

Spiders by Melvin and Gilda Berger
(This one was in a little reader series from Scholastic.  It may be out of print.  Sigh.)
Simple text, great up-close photographs, great beginning non-fiction.

Spiders by Carolyn B. Otto

This one is a science reader.  It is full of photos and simple text.  I like that it has a glossary and lots of different types of spiders.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Keith Chapman
Adorable, repetitive rhyming book.  My almost 2 year old loves this one and askes to read it over and over.  Itsy Bitsy glides through the air on a farm and encounters familiar farm animals along his journey.

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Spider doesn't have time to play with the barnyard animals.  She is too busy spinning her web.  See what she does with her web when she's finished.  (mmm... dinner)  The web is printed with embossed ink so children can feel the web as you read, too.

Spider Web Rubbings:

The spider web was made with some colored puffy paint (you remember this stuff if you are old enough to have lived in the 80's and early 90's and decorated a shirt or two...) on a piece of construction paper.  Do this at least two days in advance to make sure the web is completely dried.

In retrospect, it would have been nice to have used a sturdier paper, maybe some cardboard or chipboard, just to make it last a bit longer.  That being  said, mine have still held up, and they are over 4 years old...

Have your child place a plain piece of construction paper over the web pattern, then rub the flat end of a crayon across the paper.  It makes an easy spider web.  I usually give the kiddos a spider sticker to put in the web.  If you don't have spider stickers, you could have them draw their own spider, or use a thumbprint and add a head, eyes and legs.

Spider hats:

I cannot tell you how much kids love this silly hat.  It was the highlight of my spider unit in kindergarten.  You could not help but grin ear to ear seeing a wave of darling little spiders bobbing out the doors to go home at the end of the day...

You will need:

clear tape
white crayon
8 9 inch by 1 inch strips of black construction paper
1 3 inch by 9 inch strip of black construction paper
1 3 inch by 12 inch strip of black construction paper

Staple the two 3 inch strips together.  Have your child draw a spider face on the strip, somewhere near the middle.  Measure your child's head and staple the strip into a headband.

Take the 8 1 inch strips and accordian fold the strips to make wiggle legs.


Have your child tape the end of each leg and tape to the inside of the headband.

If you are fortunate enough to have this cd, turn on Little Richard's Itsy Bitsy Spider and dance away.  Maybe you can find this on itunes?  (I don't have an ipod, so I don't really know how to do that...)

Handprint Spiders:

 You will need:

black construction paper
wiggle eyes
white crayon

Fold the piece of construction paper in half the "fat way" and trace your child's hand with the bottom of the palm on the fold and the fingers above.

Cut out the hand, stopping at the fold line.

Cut off the thumbs on the hand.

Open and decorate your spider with the white crayon and wiggle eyes.

Silly Spider Positional Word Poem and Activity:

Silly Spider

Silly Spider above the bat.
Silly Spider under the pumpkin.
Silly Spider on the cat.
Silly Spider beside the scarecrow.
Silly Spider says, "Trick or Treat!"

I put this poem up in a pocket chart when I taught.  I gave the kids a spider ring and we took turns putting the spider in the correct position around the other clip art images.  For the last line, we all shouted, "Trick or Treat!"

For variation, you could give the kids each a set of the pictures to lay on the floor and act out the poem for themselves.

Spider snacks:

There are so many cute spider cupcakes on the web right now.  I love frosting a cupcake or cookie, then using red pull and peel licorice for spider legs and M&M's for spider eyes.  You could even add a few sprinkles for color and texture.  Simple and the kids can do it themselves.  I ran out of cupcake liners one evening when we were trying to decorate spider cupcakes, so I made brownies instead.  I used a drinking glass to cut circles out of the brownies for the bodies.  This was especially easy, because you could stick the licorice legs into the side of the soft brownie and it made perfect little legs.  Then we frosted them and added some M&M eyes.

I wish I would have taken a picture of them, but they "disappeared" too quickly before I remembered to grab the camera...

Wishing you some creepy crawly fun!


  1. Those spider hats are awesome. So funny!

  2. I love your spider unit - great work! I am so going to do those handprint spiders. Halloween costumes from another post are awesome too - your husband did a great job on a robot costume.