About This Lesson Plan



Hands-On Lessons

Engineer a Spiderweb


Anyone who has spent time staring at a spiderweb has marveled at the intricacy of the spiders' designs. In this lesson, your students will start as scientists, discussing and discovering how a spider's web helps it survive. Then they will be mathematicians, dissecting and analyzing a spiders' web for shapes and patterns.

Students will be able to:

• Identify and analyze the purpose of shapes in a spiderweb.
• Identify triangles and "non-triangles" in a spiderweb.
• Identify triangles and "non-triangles" in a web they create.

Elmer's Mini Bi-Fold Board, Elmer's Paper Numbers (Bright), yarn, pushpins, Elmer's Project Popperz ® Permanent Markers, pictures of spiders, books about spiders, whiteboard
The Diagram of a Spider PDF
The Connect the Dots Spider Web PDF

Content Introduction: The Art of Arachnids
When a spider starts building its web, it sends out a single thread. Then, building off the original thread, it uses more thread to create designs that will help it catch insects that end up in its web. The patterns in a spiderweb trap animals and allow the spider to feel a much larger area than it would be able to feel on its own.

Essential Questions
Students will explore the following questions in this lesson:

  • How does a spider's web help it survive?
  • What shapes can we find in a spiderweb?

Common Core Standards
Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size) of shapes; build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.

arachnid, invertebrate, spinneret

Introduction (3 minutes)
Explain to students that today they are going to be mathematicians and scientists as they investigate spiderwebs and geometry. Activate background knowledge by drawing a spider on the whiteboard. Choose four of the spiders' legs and write down one thing on each that you already know about spiders (i.e., they have eight legs, they make webs, they eat insects). On the other four legs, write four questions you have about spiders (facilitate the discussion to include the essential questions).


Mini-Lesson (5-10 minutes)
Have students sit in a circle. Use a ball of string to create a web. Start the web by rolling the string to a student across the circle. Then have that student roll the "thread" to another student. When every student has participated, have students hold their piece of the thread tightly and stand up. Explain to students that the way you just made a web mimics the way that spiders make webs, one string at a time.

Remind students that triangles have three sides and three corners. How many triangles can they find? Can you find shapes that are not triangles? Why aren't they triangles? (Point out to students that even though a shape may be pointy, if it does not have three angles and three sides, it is not a triangle.)

Finally, tell students that spiders use webs to catch bugs that they eat because the bugs get caught in the web and it vibrates (model this by taking a portion of the thread and shaking it) so the spider can feel the insect. Do you think your web would be good to catch insects? Why or why not? (Possible answers: yes because there are lots of little spaces to catch something, or no because the spider web is big so we can feel lots of bugs that might land in it)

Craft Component: Spider Webs (15 minutes)
  • Tell students they will each make their own web using foam board, string, pushpins, Elmer's Paper Numbers (Bright), and Elmer's Permanent Jumbo Markers 4 count

  • Students will each receive materials to work with independently. Invite students to insert pushpins into the foam board to design the outline of a web (similar to playing connect the dots).
  • Encourage students to imagine that they are a spider and to create a web that they think will help them catch the most bugs.• Students can wrap pieces of yarn around the pins to create and connect the strands within the web. 
  • When students have created their web, they take markers and color all the triangles they see. Have students identify how many triangles they made, placing Elmer's Paper Numbers next to each one they find.


Wrap Up (5 minutes)
On a separate sheet of paper, students write about how a spider would use its web and why it would be a good web for a spider. Kindergarten and first-grade students can write a few words or draw what would happen with their web. Second-grade students can write a short paragraph about their web.Whiteboard Concept Activities

  • Display The Diagram of a Spider PDF on the whiteboard. Work with students to label the basic parts of a spider, and discuss what each part does to help the spider survive.
  • Display The Connect the Dots Spider Web PDF on the whiteboard. Ask students to come up to the board one at a time, and use the whiteboard markers to connect the dots to create a web. Once the web is finished, ask students to identify the triangles and non-triangles they see (use two different colors to mark triangles and non-triangles)

Extension Activities
Fill a bin with nonfiction books about spiders. Use string to create a web on one wall of your classroom. As students read the books, have them write facts about spiders on pieces of paper shaped like spiders. Post your spider facts on the spiderweb.

Literature Extension

Step-by-step animation of how a spider makes a web: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/zoology/insects-arachnids/spider5.htm

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