ALEX Lesson Plan

Spiders: Are They Scary or Nice?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:LaTonya Barnes
System: Birmingham City
School: Princeton School
The event this resource created for:CCRS
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33052


Spiders: Are They Scary or Nice?


Children often do not understand spiders because spiders look scary. In this lesson, students will graph spider preferences and record observations of spiders in a natural habitat. Students will research spider information using the Internet. Students will illustrate a vivarium for a spider habitat, including  five environmental characteristics. 

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
7 ) Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water (e.g., woodland, tundra, desert, rainforest, ocean, river).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.7- Participate in activities that show many different living things in different environments.

MA2019 (2019)
Grade: 1
16. Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories.

a. Ask and answer questions about the total number of data points in organized data.

b. Summarize data on Venn diagrams, pictographs, and "yes-no" charts using real objects, symbolic representations, or pictorial representations.

c. Determine "how many" in each category using up to three categories of data.

d. Determine "how many more" or "how many less" are in one category than in another using data organized into two or three categories.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.1.16 Sort objects or pictures into common categories (e.g., shapes, pets, fruits; limited to two categories and a combined total of 15 objects/pictures for the categories).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to:

• Depict spider preferences on a chart, count, and compare the numbers

• Describe at least three characteristics of a spider's habitat

• Identify two animals that are prey of spiders

• Explain special adaptations spiders have made to live in their environment

• Predict about what will happen if an insect is added to the vivarium

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Activity 1: Post-it notes or pieces of paper with each student's name to stick on chart.

Activity 2: Soil, aquarium tank, or a very large jar (over a gallon), small wet sponge, leaves, rocks, branch, cheesecloth and tape, flashlight, plastic container or net for catching spiders and insects, magnifying glasses for observation.

Technology Resources Needed:

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard


This lesson is an introduction to observing spiders in a natural habitat.


  • Will need to have spiders available for students to observe.
  • Materials for vivarium (leaves, rocks, large branch, dirt, cheesecloth, tape, sponge and aquarium tank)
  • Flashlights


Students will need to know the meaning of habitat, environment, and vivarium. If they do not, have the students define the words.


This lesson will take more than one day to complete. 

Children often do not understand spiders because spiders look scary. Explain to students that counting and graphs show us information. Tell the students they will be creating and observing the habitat of spiders. Students will understand and explain environmental conditions that lead to survival. Students will work cooperatively with others. The students will understand the connections between animals and the habitats they live in. The students will work cooperatively to complete the task of creating a class vivarium.

Activity 1 Like or Not Like Spiders

A. Motivation/Introduction

1) On the interactive whiteboard, the class will create a graph representing the students that like spiders and the students that do not like spiders. Allow students to suggest different ways to make these sets.

2) Discuss the graph data. Compare the numbers. How many more like spiders than not like? What do we do to compare two numbers to see which is greater? (We can count; match the squares to see which ones are left over; subtract.)

3) The teacher will read the book "Bugs for Lunch" by Margery Facklam.

B. Teaching/Learning Activities

1) The class will create a KWL chart about spiders.

2) On a sticky note, students will write one question they have about spiders.

3) Allow students to find the answer to their question by using an online search engine. Display the questions and answers on the classroom interactive whiteboard.

Activity 2 Spider Vivarium

1) Place soil in the bottom of an aquarium tank and cover it with a few leaves, rocks, and a large branch. Place a small wet sponge in the tank for moisture. Place the spiders in the tank. Cover the tank with cheesecloth. Tape the cover in place. Place water on the sponge periodically. Have children observe spiders over several days.

2) Students will study spiders by observing them in a close to nature state. They will describe the spider's physical features and their eating (mating and reproducing behavior, if possible) from observations. Observations will be an ongoing process throughout the lesson. Do they move around much? Do they eat leaves? If lucky, the spiders will spin a web on the branch. Do spiders sense light? Darken the room and then use a flashlight. Do they like light? Do spiders sense noise? List other ways students have tried to stimulate the spiders to get a response.


1) Have a short discussion about their experiences with spiders. Include where spiders are found; what they look like; what they do; and why students are or not afraid of them. Construct two graphs to depict students' preferences toward spiders before and at the end of the lesson. Students will continue to make observations of spiders in the vivarium throughout the week. Students will document their findings in their science journal.


Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment:
Exit Slip: Ask students to name two behaviors they observed the spiders doing.

Informal Assessment: 
Journal Writing: Students will document their findings in their science journal.


Students can also visit the following sites for additional learning opportunities:



Demonstrate the procedure over again as needed. Have live spiders and insects available in case the weather is bad or you are unlucky in finding live animals. Students with learning disabilities will be provided a designated peer reader and helper, as well as provided assistance with proofing classwork. ELL students will have reduced length in written assignments and be allowed more time to complete written assignments. These students are also allowed to work with a partner. ESL students will be provided a model, as well as visual aids and a written outline. These students' work will be modified as well as given extra time to complete tasks.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.