Spiders - Lesson 3: Spiders Catch Prey
BIG IDEAS:Spiders catch and eat their prey and are also caught
and eaten by their enemies.
On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Organizing the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
- List of Activities for this Lesson
Whole Group Work
- Books: The Very Busy Spider by E. Carle and The Spider Makes a Web by J. Lexau
- Pictures of spiderwebs, or observe the webs constructed in the vivarium
- Pictures of spiders that do and do not catch prey with a web
- A chain about 12 inches long, or a picture of a chain
- Word tags: prey; camouflage; enemy; food chain; frog; bird; snake; ballooning;
You have been observing spiders for a while in our class vivarium. One reason we
observe the spiders is to learn some important things about them. For example:
What do spiders eat? Where do spiders get food? How do they get food? We also
want to know if other animals eat spiders. Are spiders themselves food? If you
were a spider, what would you do to hide from your enemies and not get eaten?
Look at the spiders in the vivarium. What color are they? Are all spiders brown?
Are there green spiders? Red? During the time we spend in the centers, we will
try to discover some of the answers to these questions.
First, we will read a story that will give us some ideas about spiders' food and
how it is caught. Read: The Very Busy Spider or The Spider Makes A Web. After
reading the book, ask the students: Do you think that other animals eat spiders?
Do birds eat spiders? What else eats spiders?
Let's discuss this: If you were a spider, what would you do to hide from your
enemies and not get eaten? (Hide, use camouflage.) Look at the spiders in the
vivarium. Can you see their camouflage? What is their camouflage? We will be
exploring these new ideas in the center activities.
At the Science Center, the students
- sort pictures of safe and unsafe insects and other animals.
- sort pictures into those that are spider's prey and those that are not.
- complete Activity - Spider Venom.
- complete Activity - A Spider's Breakfast.
Collection of pictures of various kinds of spiders
Collection of pictures of various kinds of insects and other small animals
(lady beetle, fly, bee, wasp, snake, snail, caterpillar, ant, roach, water
At the Mathematics Center:
- Students sort the pictures into animals that spiders eat, those they do not
eat, and those that are spiders.
- The students report to the teacher or to the group why they sorted them as
they did, including reporting on spiders' characteristic of having eight legs.
They count the legs to see if there are eight, and also say that four plus four
- The students also count the eyes: spiders usually have eight eyes; other
animals usually have only two (ant, grasshopper, caterpillar).
At the Art Center:
- Activity - Spider gets the Fly - a spinner game.
- One student is the spider and the other is the fly. The spider and the fly
move on a board the number of times shown on a die or a pair of dice, depending
on the students' ability to finds sums of 12 and less. The spider catches the fly
when the spider lands on the same square as the fly.
- Students design a web on paper and then follow the design to draw or make
their web on the floor or rug with yarn.
- Complete Activity - Catch a Fly.
At the Music Center:
- Students construct webs with yarn glued to construction paper or with
cooled spaghetti. They puts knots on the yarn to represent the sticky parts that
hold the prey.
- Complete Activity - Spider Fun.
- Make paper-bag spider costumes and stress camouflage.
- Make Black Widow spider with an hourglass design.
- Make a chain, with at least three to five links with one word written on
each link: grasshopper, spider, frog, plant, bird, snake, fish. The link with the
word "plant" is first and the second word is "grasshopper" because grasshoppers
eat plants; grasshopper is followed by "spider", followed by "frog", etc. Frogs
are eaten by birds, snakes and fish, so place those links after the frog link.
The students use the words "first", "second", "next" and "last" to describe the
links of the chains they make.
Students sing along and read words written on a chart, and tape the song:
"One Elephant" (also found in Spanish).
One elephant went out to play
out on a spider web one day
He had such an enormous day
that he called for another elephant
to come to play.
At the Writing Center:
Students examine a spiderweb in the vivarium. They write an illustrated
description about how the web looks, feels and works.
For Physical Education, students play freeze tag game- getting "stung" by the
Discuss how the spider uses a web to catch prey. Show different types of webs and
how different spiders catch their prey. Show word cards during the discussion.
Discuss how camouflage helps spiders catch their prey and also helps them hide
from their enemies.
Discuss the notion of a food chain with the students. Spiders consume many
different kinds of insects, but they themselves are prey to other animals. At the
bottom of the chain are the plants because they make their own food. At the top
of the chain are humans. Humans consume plants, but humans eat meat also. Since
frogs are prey to many different animals, several different links are placed
within the frog link.
How does a spider use its venom? Are all spiders harmful to humans? Do all
spiders bite? Which kinds of spiders have been known to kill humans with their
bite? If not all spider bites cause death, in what other way can spider bites be
Use the "Trap-door Spider" as a choral reading. Expand the reading by
comparing one spider and the web it spins to another type of spider and the web
Trap-door Spider hiding underground
In his tunnel where he can't be found.
He digs it deep and lines it with silk
And works very hard until it is built.
Patiently he waits and doesn't make a sound,
So he can feel the vibrations on the ground.
He crawls to the top to get a good view.
If you are an insect .... he might catch you!!
How does the trap-door spider catch its prey? Does it build a web? How do the
leaves, sticks and grass help the spider? (The spider senses the vibrations of
the leaves and sticks and knows there is prey outside the trap.)
Compare this method to the method the purse-web spider uses to catch its prey.
A spiderling can use its spinnerets as soon as it is born. The spiderling puts
out a silk line called a dragline. What do you suppose the spiderling uses this
line for? (To catch food.) How does it find food? When a spiderling sways on its
line, it can catch prey. This is called ballooning. Why do you think it is called
The class designs and makes a booklet on web-building, stressing the idea of
sequence _ the students verbally dictate the steps. Provide students with
pictures that suggest the various stages of web-building, or students may draw
their own pictures. The teacher may also use this activity to assess
Journal Writing - Write a story of how a spider catches and eats its prey - the
student may select any type of spider that the class has discussed. Example:
trap-door, wolf, black widow, etc.
- Write and illustrate a "Facts about Spiders" class Big Book.
- Students complete Activity - Catch a Fly as a culminating activity.
- Tell me about the spider web. What does it look like? How does it feel?
- If you were a spider, where would you spin your web and why?
- How does a spider use its web?
- Students explain how the dissolved sugar cube in
Activity - Spider Venom is like a spider's venom.
- Assess quality of completed spider webs.
- Using labeled paper links (with plant and animal names), the student places
at least three links, including the spider link, in the correct order in which
the organisms exist in the spider's food web.
- Assess quality of completed Spider Fun and A Spider's Breakfast.
- Spider Venom
- A Spider's Breakfast
- Catch A Fly
- Spider Fun