Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spiders Unit Study - For Late Elementary or Middle School

Since we had only been in school for one week when the Labor Day holiday happened, we decided to go ahead and have a school day. But I wanted to make it a little more fun than a normal day, and nature gave us a perfect unit to study.

This has been a crazy year for spiders around here. The exterior of our house looks like an abandoned house with all of the spider webs. I don't know what the deal is this summer, but we have had some really cool observations despite the annoyance of them. (I guess they have kept the bugs at bay, so that's also a positive.)

It was a little challenging to find a unit study about spiders that was not designed for preschoolers, but with some searching and pinning I came up with something to educate and entertain the kids on this holiday away from traditional school.

Language Arts

Prefixes/Suffixes - I put the prefixes dis- and in- and the suffixes -ed and -ing on paper plates. The kids came up with eight words for each and wrote them on spider legs. Then we attached them to our plates to make spiders. When they ran out of their own ideas they used my grandma's old dictionary and an internet search to find more words. (I wanted them to know how to search each way.)

"The Spider and the Fly" - we read the poem and (1) identified all of the adjectives used by the spider to describe his home in human terms; (2) wrote down all of the forms of flattery the spider used to entice the fly; and (3) came up with the moral of the poem. (You can download all of these materials for free HERE.)


It was time for a snack so we did some geometry and made spider toast.

Since we are regularly studying fractions, I did a search and found a fun spider Half Fractions Coloring Picture that required the kids to determine if 27 different fractions were more than a half, less than a half, or the same as half. Once the calculations were made they used those answers to color picture of a spider. (I don't normally purchase downloadable materials, but this fit perfectly with our theme and was challenging and worth the $2.00).


For lunch I made Brynne pepperoni and cracker spiders and Eli peanut butter crackers. Both sets had pretzel legs.


We learned about the parts of a spider and the life cycle of a spider.

A simple look through a bunch of straws demonstrated how difficult it is for a spider to see.

We did two experiments. One to determine why spiders don't stick to their own sticky webs.

The other one demonstrated what happens when a spider's venom enters the body of an insect.

We learned about the different types of webs (found in "The Spider and the Fly" download), and observed specimens of them right outside our front door.

We have orb webs. One night a couple of weeks ago when we lost power, we had the opportunity to watch an orb spider up close and personal. Dawson tossed her a live June Bug and we watched the entire process of her sensing it, running to it, stunning it, spinning it, moving it for a later meal, and fixing its web. Dawson got it in slow motion video and it was crazy fascinating to watch.

Sheet webs

Tangled webs. The tangled web located on our air conditioner, and right up against the window, had three egg sacks with one that has recently hatched and we have seen lots and lots and lots of babies.

and Horizontal Thread webs (we didn't find any live examples).


We listened to Kristen Lawrence's "Arachnitect" on Youtube which is a musical version of a spider luring in its prey to the web.

Charlotte's Web

Of course we ended our day with some popcorn and a viewing of Charlotte's Web.

1 comment:

  1. I love all these ideas! I don't homeschool, but we still do a lot of learning activities at home. Thank you for sharing! XOXO


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