“The spiders are the civil engineers among the small inhabitants of our fields and woods. The build strong suspension bridges, from which they hang nets made with exquisite precision; and they build airplanes and balloons, which are more efficient than any that we have yet constructed…” ~ Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study
We’ve got loads of spiders around our home. Different types of webs, various spiders, and lots of sacs. Sure enough, my 3 and 5 year old began asking lots of questions to which I didn’t have the answer. So, I went on a hunt and pulled together great resources for you.
Exploring Spiders and Webs
You must begin with this beautiful book, Sophie’s Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale, not only for the story but for the lovely illustrations! The book tells the story of a talented spider. She weaves webs only in the best interest of those people in her life. She weaves with emotion and beauty. She is met with a lot of fear and disapproval until she encounters a young mother. This story will warm your heart. The artwork is inviting to the eye.
Then take a walk outside, or perhaps around your home or school building. Observe spiders and their webs. Count the spider webs. Notice them. Gently touch the web with a stick so as not to break it but to experience the stickiness and elasticity of the web. Notice the spider. Is it off to the side in a “den”? Is it in the center? How does it act when you approach? Is there a spider sac in the web?
As my sons began looking more closely at spiders and their webs. I remembered reading a lesson from The Nature Handbook. Comstock is a big proponent of inquiry based and led learning. So, here are a few questions to ask out loud:
- What shape is the web
- Why do you think it’s that shape?
- Do you think the silk is all the same?
- Why does a spider have a web?
- When an insect gets caught in the web, what happens? Shall we observe?
- Describe the web. Is it crisscrossed? Is it in a sheet? How are the threads held together?
- Spiders release two types of silk. What is the purpose of each type?
- What do you think a spider does when it is frightened?
Spider Activities for Kids
Weaving: House spiders are the ultimate weavers, consider trying an activity that involves weaving. You can do a simple paper weave activity, or weave with a baking sheet.
Building: Spiders are civil engineers. Challenge your child to build a bridge using materials such as toothpicks, beans, straws, blocks, and string. Here are a few example of building activities for kids.
Lacing: Create your own web with this creative spider web lacing activity from Fun at Home with Kids.
Fun Facts about Spiders
- Spiders release two types of silk: one is dry and inelastic (for the framework) while the other is sticky and elastic (for catching food).
- Silk is released in a liquid state. The silk hardens immediately upon contact with air.
- Spiders legs are typically hairy
- During a busy season, a spider may make up to one web every 24 hours
- A spider doesn’t get stuck because it runs on the dry radii and not on the sticky spiral lines
- The “cobweb” is just one kind of web created by the house spider. Other webs include the funnel web (grass spider), the orb web (orb spider), a dome, and the triangle web to name a few variations.
- There are up to 500 or more eggs in a sac but not all survive. Only a few eggs will become full grown spiders. Eggs and the smallest spiders are food for their brothers.
More Books about Spiders
I like to make it fun at first especially when dealing with a critter that might scare a child or cause a child to hesitate. So, this list below includes sweet, funny stories about spiders, such as , and non-fictional books like