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
  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 5 environmental characteristics. This lesson will take more than one day to complete.

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

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC (1)
4. Describe survival traits of living things, including color, shape, size, texture, and covering.
  • Classifying plants and animals according to physical traits
  • Examples:
    animals—six legs on insects,
    plants—green leaves on evergreen trees
  • Identifying developmental stages of plants and animals
  • Examples:
    plants—seed developing into seedling, seedling developing into tree;
    animals—piglet developing into pig, kid developing into goat
  • Describing a variety of habitats and natural homes of animals
  • SC (2)
    6. Identify characteristics of animals, including behavior, size, and body covering
  • Comparing existing animals to extinct animals
  • Examples: iguana to stegosaurus, elephant to wooly mammoth
  • Identifying migration and hibernation as survival strategies
  • MA2015 (1)
    18. Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another. [1-MD4]
    SC2015 (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).

    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) Each student will use an online search engine to find the answer to their question. The questions and answers will be displayed 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 the 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.




    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.

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.