A spider unit in a kindergarten or first-grade classroom is always a hit! It’s a great theme for October because it has lots of educational value but also fits in nicely with Halloween. In this post, I’ve compiled eight of my favorite spider activities to help you blend science and fun with literacy and math! All of these activities go well with lots of informational reading about spiders. There’s also a great Magic School Bus episode (Spins a Web) that’s full of fascinating information. This post contains affiliate links.
1. Make a Paper Plate Craft
This craft is always a hit; using black paper plates and spider rings from the dollar store makes it cheap. First, teach students to draw a spider web. I have them start with an X and then draw a third line horizontally through the middle. Teach them to make two concentric rings of gently curved lines to finish the web. Pass out scratch paper (or chalkboards or whiteboards) and let your students have a little practice time for drawing webs. (They tend to love this—drawing webs sometimes becomes one of their favorite spider activities!)
Prep ahead of time by cutting the ring part off of your spider rings. Pass out paper plates (I use black, but any color will do!) and have the students write their names on the back and then draw a web on the front of their plate with a white crayon or a pencil. Next, have them trace their web with white glue. If you have an assistant or parent volunteer, you might have them work with the kids on this step in small groups or one-on-one (depending on how much experience your class had had with glue bottles). If not, try to find a time when you can pull them back (even if you only get to a few a day).
Once the webs have been traced with glue, have the kids sprinkle glitter or baking soda (cornstarch would probably work well, too) over the glue. A shaker jar like this works well and if you keep baking soda in one, you can also use it as a cleaner for getting stubborn marks off of tables. After shaking off the excess, have the students squeeze a dollop of glue onto their web in the place they want to stick their spider and then gently press the spider down. Then let the web dry undisturbed overnight.
These webs make a great display along with some spider writing, which brings me to our next activity!
2. Make a Can/Have/Are Chart
As you read and learn about spiders with your class, work together to fill in a Can/Have/Are chart with them. This framework for organizing facts is a great lead-in to informational sentence writing for beginning writers! Spider activities like this one help students with comprehension and with making connections between what they read and what they write.
You can find informational text and these chart headers in my Spider Unit, but you can also make a chart like this to go along with books from the library or your own collection. Once you have a chart full of spider facts, show students how they can use the information on the chart to write (or dictate) sentences about spiders.
3. Make a Simple Math Craft
This simple math craft reinforces number sense while also exercising little fingers and developing fine motor skills! Prepare ahead by using a die-cut machine to cut out a number eight for each of your students. Also, pre-cut eight strips of paper (legs) for each student. These strips should be five or six inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. (Depending on the size of your eights, you might want to make the legs bigger or smaller. Use any colors that you like!
I start this activity with a little math and movement exercise. Have the children hold up four fingers on each hand. Together, raise one hand and say “four,” then repeat with the other hand. Finally, model putting your inner wrists together and wiggling your eight fingers to make a spider while saying “eight.” Repeat this a few times, “four, four, eight,” adding in the words plus and equal if you’re students are at that level in math.
For the craft, have the students accordion fold each of their eight legs and glue them to the back of the eight so they are sticking out to the sides. Tie this into their knowledge of spiders by helping them recognize that the eight has two sections, just as a spider has two body parts. Finally, have them add eyes. (You can use self-stick googly eyes, eye stickers, tiny dot stickers, or simply have students draw the eyes with crayons or markers.) This would be a good time to talk about how spiders often have eight eyes, but sometimes have six or fewer–always an even number!
4. Use Nursery Rhymes
Write the words to “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and/or “Little Miss Muffet” on chart paper. Use these rhymes for shared reading and to look for and recognize phonemic patterns and rules. To add to the fun, hot glue a spider from a spider ring to an unsharpened pencil or dowel rod to make a spider pointer!
5. Make a Spider Graph
Use this freebie from my TPT store to have your students graph whether or not they are afraid of spiders. This can be a fun activity to do before you start your spider unit. You can then make a new graph when you finish learning about spiders and compare the data! Many students may find that all the fun spider activities have changed their opinions of spiders!
6. Make a Spider Snack
Ingredients: round crackers or cookies, spreadable nut butter, cream cheese, or frosting, pretzel sticks, raisins or chocolate chips or mini-M&Ms
Making a snack is a meaningful way for students to practice following directions and helps students build background knowledge.
This simple snack involves spreading something sticky on a round cookie or cracker, adding pretzel sticks for legs, and raisins or little candies for eyes. If you want to be more scientifically accurate with your students, you can have them overlap two crackers, attaching them with your spread, to show the two body parts of a spider.
This is one of those spider activities kids will remember for years to come!
7. Write Spider Rhymes and Chants
Chants and rhymes hold an important part in children’s play, so integrating them into our teaching helps us reach our students in a developmentally appropriate way. The image below shows a simple chant inspired by the jump rope rhyme, “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear.” Children can recite this while jumping rope or can use it as a hand-clapping rhyme (great for crossing the midline and developing hand-eye coordination!).
Try working with your students to make simple rhymes or chants about spiders. This type of language play helps children develop their sense of rhyme and rhythm and helps them hear and isolate syllables and sounds.
Other songs and rhymes you might want to use for inspiration are, “Five Little Ducks” or “Five Green and Speckled Frogs.”
8. Explore Genres by Reading and Writing Fictional Spider Stories
Fictional read-alouds about spiders can inspire great discussions. Children can compare how spiders are portrayed in fantasy stories versus informational books.
Allowing students time for creative writing and drawing about spiders helps them synthesize their new knowledge while stretching their imaginations. Consider having them invent and draw their own spider characters, assigning them names and characteristics. They can then build stories around these characters that they can write, dictate, or tell orally.
I hope this post brings some fresh ideas to your spider unit! I’d love it if you’d drop some of your own ideas in the comments below!
For more spider learning, check out these resources at My Happy Place on TPT:
You can also purchase this spider unit right here in the My Happy Place shop!