The Very Busy Spider’s Web Introduction

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Whitney Bartsch

The Very Busy Spider’s Web

Students have seen spiders and have probably walked through a web or two. But how often have they noticed that spider webs can actually be different shapes? This activity integrates literature by reading aloud The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. It also integrates geometry by having students recognize the different shapes that spider webs can be.


The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Pictures of various spider webs

Baking pan

2 sticks

Any web-spinning spider


  1. Teacher reads Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider and has students notice the shapes of the web on each progressing page. Teacher has students notice the end shape of the web (“What would you call that shape?”)

  2. In small groups, students look at various pictures of spider webs (from magazines, books, online, etc. These pictures are only of the four common webs named below.) Students record the different shapes that they see.

  3. Students sort the shapes into 4 categories, create names for each, and create a poster with simple drawings (or cut out pictures if possible) of the categories.

  4. Groups present their posters to the class.

  5. Teacher presents the “scientific” names of these types of webs (highlight that certain spiders make certain webs):

    1. Orb webs (like the one in the story)

    2. Tangled webs (triangular, like cobwebs)
    3. Bowl and Doily Web (looks like a rectangle with a “bowl” shape on top)

    4. Funnel web (looks like a funnel—teacher can have an actual funnel to show)

  6. Teacher introduces a real spider that has been caught in a jar. (The following are teacher steps for the demonstration.)

    1. Fill a baking dish about half way with water.

    2. Take two chunks of clay and put them at either end of the baking tray.

    3. Put a stick in each of the two clay chunks. Be sure that the stick is over the water, and not leaning towards the outer edge of the pan.

    4. Carefully let the spider onto one of the sticks. Since spiders do not like water, the spider will spin a web between the two sticks!

  7. As spider begins to spin its web, students predict what type of it will spin and draw a picture (labeling it with one of the names learned above.)

  8. Students check back the following day to see whose predictions were accurate and draw a picture of the resulting web.

Discussion Questions

  1. What was your prediction? Was it correct?

  2. What type of web did the spider spin? How do you know that? Draw a picture

  3. Why do you think spiders make different webs?


  1. Teacher could explore why spiders make different webs—different environment, inherited traits, etc.

  2. Teacher could explore why water had to be put in the baking pan and create different experiments in which water was not put in the pan. (Spiders don’t like water.)

  3. Teacher could explore what would happen if more than one spider was placed in the pan with water.

Grade Level: 2nd grade
California Standards: Grade 2
Investigation & Experimentation 4.a: Make predictions based on observed patterns and not random guessing.

Investigation & Experimentation 4.c: Compare and sort common objects according to two or more physical attributes.

Life Sciences 2.c: Students know many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents. Some characteristics are caused or influenced by the environment.

References: (This lesson was a combination of the following lesson plans)
Smith, Amy. “Spiders Spin a Web.”

“The Very Busy Spider Math & Science Lessons.” Integrating Science, Technology and Literature into Primary Grades. Block Publishing, 2007.

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