Spiders - Lesson 4: The Spider's Life Cycle
On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Organizing the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
- List of Activities for this Lesson
BIG IDEAS:Spiders have a life cycle, and reproduce
by laying many eggs. We can count by ones, twos, fives, or as many
as we want.
Whole Group Work Materials
- Book: Spider Magic by D.H. Patent.
- Life-cycle sequence cards (to cut out and use in a variety
of activities: pictures of spider eggs in the egg sacs; spiderlings
molting in order to grow; adults dying or being eaten as part
of the food cycle)
- Collection of live insects such as flies and others that can
serve as food for the spiders
- Word tags: ballooning, habitat, life cycle, molting
We have been collecting and observing spiders for several days now.
Have any of our spiders died? Yes, some of them have died, but we
keep on bringing new ones into our vivarium. New spiders have to
be born, otherwise we would run out of spiders, and we have many
of them all the time. Where do new spiders come from? Yes! Spiders
come from eggs. Have you seen any of our spiders with eggs? Where
are the eggs? Have you seen them through the magnifying glass? In
this lesson we will discover many new things about the life and
death of spiders.
The teacher reads the book, Spider Magic, about the life
cycle of spiders. What are the two ways that animals are born? Animals
either hatch from an egg or else they are born from their mother
when they can live on their own, like kittens or puppies. How are
spiders born? Yes, spiders hatch from eggs. At the Science Center:
At the Drama Center:
- Complete Activity - Spider Egg Sacs, as below.
white tissue paper; water; yarn or string; tacks; lentils,
linking cubes, sugar cubes, lima beans
- Students roll out tiny spider "eggs" out of wet, white
- Students put the "eggs" into a small piece of tissue paper
about two inches
- Students review the concept of ballooning by playing with
the spiderlings they constructed in the Art Center.
- Complete Activity - Spider Life Cycle.
The students working in pairs or small groups select a favorite
spider, dress to resemble that spider using brown paper bags on
which they have drawn the spider's features, and act out a scene.
At the Writing Center, students
At the Art Center, students
- write at least two things in their journals on the life cycle
of the spider.
- describe spiders, their habitats and life cycle using number
words, geometric (shapes) descriptions, and the new vocabulary
- use life-cycle sequence cards to construct a book. Students
dictate the life cycle to the teacher who writes it on cards,
and then the students sequence the cards.
At the Mathematics Center:
- color the paper bags showing the spider features for the Drama
- construct a spider life cycle cap (use ordinal numbers to
name the steps, from one to five or six different steps in the
spider's life cycle). A spider cap is made of a circular headband,
the length of each student's head, and about two inches wide,
decorated with pictures depicting the life cycle of spiders.
Make a large paper spider outline cutout to form the crown of
the cap and glue the legs of the spider to the headband.
Students estimate, then count, the number of spiderlings that can
fit into a spider egg sac. Next, use lima beans to put into the
sac to simulate spider eggs; estimate how many can fit, then count.
Do the same thing with lentils, linking cubes, sugar cubes or other
small objects. Simulate different-size sacs with socks, plastic
bags, or other types of material that can hold beans or cubes. Again,
students estimate and count.
After students have had an opportunity to complete their activities
in the centers, discuss the following ideas: What is a life cycle?
What does the word "cycle" mean? Yes, like a bicycle, it is something
that is in a circle. A life cycle means that animals, and plants
also, live in a cycle. They are born, become adults, reproduce or
make new animals or plants, and then they die. Although the adults
die after they have reproduced, there are more new animals all the
time. Living organisms preserve themselves in this manner all the
time. When all the animals of one kind die out and no new ones are
born, we say that animal has become extinct. We don't know
if any types of spiders have become extinct, but we know that the
spider is certainly not on the endangered species list. There
are too many of them to become extinct, and they have learned to
adapt themselves to their environment. They will always survive.
All animals need a place to be born and to live. The place where
animals are born, live and die is called a habitat. It
is very similar to the Spanish word, habitación.
Spiders have habitats where they are born and where they live.
Different spiders have different habitats. The habitats are different
because the places where spiders live are very different. The
spiders have to use what is around them in their environment to
make their habitats. Describe some of the habitats you have learned
about from the books you have read and looked at.
(Pause for students to give oral reports of the results of their
New spiders hatch from eggs. How many eggs does a female spider
lay? Yes, spiders lay many, many eggs. When the eggs hatch the
new spiders are called spiderlings. What are two things
that new spiders can do as soon as they are born? (Pause to allow
for student responses.) Yes, they can spin silk and they can catch
and eat prey.
As a whole group, the students write a cinquain expressing their
feelings about spiders.
Example Cinquain - one formula
1st line - 1 word -name of animal Tarantula
2nd line - 2 words -describe animal Black, hairy
3rd line - 3 words -describe actions of animal Hiding, hunting, jumping
4th line - 4 words -describe feelings Scared stiff, can't look
5th line - 5 words -group animal belongs to Spider
- Working in small groups, students make two lists of animals
on a chart Ñ one list of those that reproduce by laying eggs
and the other of those that give live birth.
- Students draw and illustrate a story about a particular spider's
- Students draw and illustrate a story about a particular spiderling
and where and how it lives to become an adult.
- Students complete Activity - Spider
Assess mastery of the use of new language structures and vocabulary
in the oral interviews.
- Are spiders and cats born the same way? Explain how each is
- Why do spiders build an egg sac?
- Describe ballooning. How is it used, and who uses it?
- Students explain why more lentils, for example, can fit in
the egg sac than lima beans. What does "estimate" mean? Is it
like a guess? How is it different from a guess, or is it the
same? (An estimate is like a guess. In making an estimate, however,
you might be using some information to help you narrow your
guess down to just a few choices. In making a guess you might
not use any information at all.)
Assess understanding of the Big Idea by assessing students' completion
and quality of work on Activity - Spider
Minibook, on the story of a spider or spiderling or on the life
- Spider Minibook
- Spider Life Cycle