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October 23, 2018

A Spectacular Spider Study Unit for Kindergarten: Learn About Our Eight-Legged Friends

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K

    Key Takeaways

    • Reinforce important math, language arts, listening and developmental skills with one easy-to-do lesson.
    • Use counting paths to help young children develop a sense of one-to-one correspondence.
    • Teach students how to follow a multi-step process using a fun color coded edible project.

    Do you ever know right away that a lesson is a home run? I love that. It’s exactly what happened when I taught my kindergarteners about spiders using an October issue of Scholastic’s Let’s Find Out magazine. This lesson has three parts: Story Starters, Counting Paths and Edible Art.

    Part 1. Story Starters

    For early learners, understanding that a story has a sequential beginning, middle and end is a concept that we work on most of the year. For this lesson, I passed out the magazine, and before we started reading, I told a story about walking into a spider web at home. Then I asked the class these questions:

    • What happened at the beginning of my story?
    • What happened in the middle?
    • What happened in the end?

    My kindergarteners raised their hands, eager to tell their own spider stories. To speed up the sharing process, I didn’t pause to review the beginning, middle and end of each story. Instead, I gave positive feedback about one of these sections — for example, “I really liked the end of your story, where you let the spider go outside,” or, “My favorite part of your story was the beginning, when you told me that your story happened in the kitchen.”   

    Part 2. Counting Paths

    After we shared our spider stories, we moved on to reading Let’s Find Out together. I attached the BIG Issue of the magazine to the whiteboard with magnets. After we read the sequenced text in the four boxes on the center spread, the students were excited to practice a new skill they had just learned: using a counting path.

    Because kindergarteners can have difficulty using a number line to count, I’ve been teaching them how to use counting paths. Students can count a series of objects and know when they’ve counted every object in a group. This is how we did it:

    • We looked at the “Is It a Spider?” section.
    • I read the instructions that said spiders have 8 legs.
    • My students saw the picture of a spider that had 8 numbered legs and recognized the counting path.
    • We started at number 1. I used a dry-erase marker to draw a connecting line from number 1 to number 2 and so on to number 8.  Then I asked, “Does this one have 8 legs?” The kids hollered, “Yes!” and I asked, “Is it an insect or a spider?” They excitedly said, "A spider!"
    • Next, I said, “Now, look at all of these other creatures and count the legs, and if one has 8 legs, put a check in the white box below it.” I finished by saying, “Don't forget to use a counting path so you know where you started counting.” Then I started circulating around the class to help, but they all did really well because they were using the counting path.

    Counting paths help young children develop the important sense of one-to-one correspondence. But, unlike a number line, a counting path lets kids know when it’s time to stop counting — when they’ve run out of objects. Seeing the counting path in Let’s Find Out automatically created those connections that we look to make every day at school. My students were excited to use something they learned in a new way.

    Part 3. Edible Art

    I asked students to complete the orb web activity on the back page of the issue. While they did, I prepared our closure activity, “Cookie Spider,” to reinforce the main ideas of the “Is It a Spider?" activity we'd just completed.

    Here are four fun steps to create a Cookie Spider:

    I put each step into a different color in a magnetic pocket chart. I used blue, green, yellow and red. That way, when students got to the red step, they knew they had completed the activity.

    I placed all of the supplies on a table. This setup allowed students who were able to follow four steps on their own to complete the task independently. I had more time to work with students who still struggle with following four-step directions.

    I’m happy to tell you that our spider cookies turned out great! The spider issue of Let's Find Out was a huge hit in my classroom. The activity gave my students an opportunity to practice following directions using visual clues. Plus, it’s right in the wheelhouse of the developmental milestones for early learners.

    To try fun lessons and activities from Let’s Find Out in your classroom, sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

     

    Meet the Teacher:

    Brian Smith teaches kindergarten at Wittenburg Elementary in Alexander County, North Carolina. He was named the district’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

    Key Takeaways

    • Reinforce important math, language arts, listening and developmental skills with one easy-to-do lesson.
    • Use counting paths to help young children develop a sense of one-to-one correspondence.
    • Teach students how to follow a multi-step process using a fun color coded edible project.

    Do you ever know right away that a lesson is a home run? I love that. It’s exactly what happened when I taught my kindergarteners about spiders using an October issue of Scholastic’s Let’s Find Out magazine. This lesson has three parts: Story Starters, Counting Paths and Edible Art.

    Part 1. Story Starters

    For early learners, understanding that a story has a sequential beginning, middle and end is a concept that we work on most of the year. For this lesson, I passed out the magazine, and before we started reading, I told a story about walking into a spider web at home. Then I asked the class these questions:

    • What happened at the beginning of my story?
    • What happened in the middle?
    • What happened in the end?

    My kindergarteners raised their hands, eager to tell their own spider stories. To speed up the sharing process, I didn’t pause to review the beginning, middle and end of each story. Instead, I gave positive feedback about one of these sections — for example, “I really liked the end of your story, where you let the spider go outside,” or, “My favorite part of your story was the beginning, when you told me that your story happened in the kitchen.”   

    Part 2. Counting Paths

    After we shared our spider stories, we moved on to reading Let’s Find Out together. I attached the BIG Issue of the magazine to the whiteboard with magnets. After we read the sequenced text in the four boxes on the center spread, the students were excited to practice a new skill they had just learned: using a counting path.

    Because kindergarteners can have difficulty using a number line to count, I’ve been teaching them how to use counting paths. Students can count a series of objects and know when they’ve counted every object in a group. This is how we did it:

    • We looked at the “Is It a Spider?” section.
    • I read the instructions that said spiders have 8 legs.
    • My students saw the picture of a spider that had 8 numbered legs and recognized the counting path.
    • We started at number 1. I used a dry-erase marker to draw a connecting line from number 1 to number 2 and so on to number 8.  Then I asked, “Does this one have 8 legs?” The kids hollered, “Yes!” and I asked, “Is it an insect or a spider?” They excitedly said, "A spider!"
    • Next, I said, “Now, look at all of these other creatures and count the legs, and if one has 8 legs, put a check in the white box below it.” I finished by saying, “Don't forget to use a counting path so you know where you started counting.” Then I started circulating around the class to help, but they all did really well because they were using the counting path.

    Counting paths help young children develop the important sense of one-to-one correspondence. But, unlike a number line, a counting path lets kids know when it’s time to stop counting — when they’ve run out of objects. Seeing the counting path in Let’s Find Out automatically created those connections that we look to make every day at school. My students were excited to use something they learned in a new way.

    Part 3. Edible Art

    I asked students to complete the orb web activity on the back page of the issue. While they did, I prepared our closure activity, “Cookie Spider,” to reinforce the main ideas of the “Is It a Spider?" activity we'd just completed.

    Here are four fun steps to create a Cookie Spider:

    I put each step into a different color in a magnetic pocket chart. I used blue, green, yellow and red. That way, when students got to the red step, they knew they had completed the activity.

    I placed all of the supplies on a table. This setup allowed students who were able to follow four steps on their own to complete the task independently. I had more time to work with students who still struggle with following four-step directions.

    I’m happy to tell you that our spider cookies turned out great! The spider issue of Let's Find Out was a huge hit in my classroom. The activity gave my students an opportunity to practice following directions using visual clues. Plus, it’s right in the wheelhouse of the developmental milestones for early learners.

    To try fun lessons and activities from Let’s Find Out in your classroom, sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

     

    Meet the Teacher:

    Brian Smith teaches kindergarten at Wittenburg Elementary in Alexander County, North Carolina. He was named the district’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

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