Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Spiders: Are They Scary or Nice?

Subject Area



1, 2


Children often do not understand spiders because spiders look scary. In this lesson, students will graph spider preferences and record observations of spiders in a natural habitat. Students will research spider information using the Internet. Students will illustrate a vivarium for a spider habitat, including  five environmental characteristics. 

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 2


    Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water (e.g., woodland, tundra, desert, rainforest, ocean, river).

    Unpacked Content



    • Literature
    • Media
    • Diversity
    • Habitats
    • Woodland
    • Tundra
    • Desert
    • Rainforest
    • Ocean
    • River


    Students know:
    • Plants and animals are diverse within different habitats.


    Students are able to:
    • Obtain information from literature and other media.
    • Illustrate the different kinds of living things and the different habitats in which they can be found.


    Students understand that:
    • There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Mathematics (2019) Grade(s): 1


    Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories.

    Unpacked Content



    • Tally mark graphs
    • Pictographs
    • Venn diagrams
    • Yes/no charts
    • Bar graphs


    Students know:
    • objects can be grouped into categories based on like characteristics.
    • They can gain information from graphs.


    Students are able to:
    • Create, analyze, and interpret data.


    Students understand that:
    • questions concerning mathematical contexts can be answered by collecting and organizing data.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Students will be able to:

    • Depict spider preferences on a chart, count, and compare the numbers

    • Describe at least three characteristics of a spider's habitat

    • Identify two animals that are the prey of spiders

    • Explain special adaptations spiders have made to live in their environment

    • Predict what will happen if an insect is added to the vivarium


    This lesson will take more than one day to complete. 

    Children often do not understand spiders because spiders look scary. Explain to students that counting and graphs show us information. Tell the students they will be creating and observing the habitat of spiders. Students will understand and explain environmental conditions that lead to survival. Students will work cooperatively with others. The students will understand the connections between animals and the habitats they live in. The students will work cooperatively to complete the task of creating a class vivarium.

    Activity 1 Like or Not Like Spiders

    A. Motivation/Introduction

    1) On the interactive whiteboard, the class will create a graph representing the students that like spiders and the students that do not like spiders. Allow students to suggest different ways to make these sets.

    2) Discuss the graph data. Compare the numbers. How many more like spiders than not like? What do we do to compare two numbers to see which is greater? (We can count; match the squares to see which ones are left over; subtract.)

    B. Teaching/Learning Activities

    1) The class will create a KWL chart about spiders.

    2) On a sticky note, students will write one question they have about spiders.

    3) Allow students to find the answer to their questions by using an online search engine. Display the questions and answers on the classroom interactive whiteboard.

    Activity 2 Spider Vivarium

    1) Place soil in the bottom of an aquarium tank and cover it with a few leaves, rocks, and a large branch. Place a small wet sponge in the tank for moisture. Place the spiders in the tank. Cover the tank with cheesecloth. Tape the cover in place. Place water on the sponge periodically. Have children observe spiders over several days.

    2) Students will study spiders by observing them in a close-to-nature state. They will describe the spider's physical features and their eating (mating and reproducing behavior, if possible) from observations. Observations will be an ongoing process throughout the lesson. Do they move around much? Do they eat leaves? If lucky, the spiders will spin a web on the branch. Do spiders sense light? Darken the room and then use a flashlight. Do they like light? Do spiders sense noise? List other ways students have tried to stimulate the spiders to get a response.


    1) Have a short discussion about their experiences with spiders. Include where spiders are found; what they look like; what they do; and why students are or not afraid of them. Construct two graphs to depict students' preferences toward spiders before and at the end of the lesson. Students will continue to make observations of spiders in the vivarium throughout the week. Students will document their findings in their science journals.

    Assessment Strategies

    Formative Assessment:
    Exit Slip: Ask students to name two behaviors they observed the spiders doing.

    Informal Assessment: 
    Journal Writing: Students will document their findings in their science journal.


    Students can also visit the following sites for additional learning opportunities: 





    Demonstrate the procedure over again as needed. Have live spiders and insects available in case the weather is bad or you are unlucky in finding live animals. Students with learning disabilities will be provided a designated peer reader and helper, as well as provided assistance with proofing classwork. ELL students will have reduced length in written assignments and be allowed more time to complete written assignments. These students are also allowed to work with a partner. ESL students will be provided a model, as well as visual aids and a written outline. These students' work will be modified as well as given extra time to complete tasks.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    91 to 120 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    This lesson is an introduction to observing spiders in a natural habitat.


    • Will need to have spiders available for students to observe.
    • Materials for vivarium (leaves, rocks, large branch, dirt, cheesecloth, tape, sponge and aquarium tank)
    • Flashlights


    Students will need to know the meaning of habitat, environment, and vivarium. If they do not, have the students define the words.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Activity 1: Post-it notes or pieces of paper with each student's name to stick on chart.

    Activity 2: Soil, aquarium tank, or a very large jar (over a gallon), small wet sponge, leaves, rocks, branch, cheesecloth and tape, flashlight, plastic container or net for catching spiders and insects, magnifying glasses for observation.

    Technology Resources Needed

    • Computer with Internet access
    • Interactive whiteboard