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.
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?”)
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.
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.
Groups present their posters to the class.
Teacher presents the “scientific” names of these types of webs (highlight that certain spiders make certain webs):
Orb webs (like the one in the story)
Tangled webs (triangular, like cobwebs)
Bowl and Doily Web (looks like a rectangle with a “bowl” shape on top)
Funnel web (looks like a funnel—teacher can have an actual funnel to show)
Teacher introduces a real spider that has been caught in a jar. (The following are teacher steps for the demonstration.)
Fill a baking dish about half way with water.
Take two chunks of clay and put them at either end of the baking tray.
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.
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!
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.)
Students check back the following day to see whose predictions were accurate and draw a picture of the resulting web.