Even itsy, bitsy spiders can make GIANT webs! Explore spider webs with your children using this creative science activity from Thinking BIG, Learning BIG by Marie Faust Evitt.
- Share a book about spiders and spider webs with your children. We recommend The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.
- Say, "I'm going to try to draw a web, following the pictures in the book. What do I need to do first?"
- Use a green marker for the non-sticky strands and red for the sticky strands. Discuss the sequence of web building: the first green horizontal line, then the rest of the frame, then the radiating diagonal lines, and finally the red sticky spiral.
Building a Real Web
- Ask the children, "What could I use to build a BIG web?" Brainstorm possible materials. Ask, "Where could we build it?"
- Choose a location where you have room to work – outdoors is ideal – at one end of a patio or on a chain-link fence or at the base of a climbing structure. You can also construct a web on a classroom wall or corner.
Make the web as large as your space permits. Help the children cut the non-sticky perimeter strands of yarn or string. Ask, "How long should the pieces be?" Talk in terms they can understand–as tall as the doorway, as long as their arm. Help the children attach the ends of the yarn with packing tape or tie them to posts or the fence.
- Ask, "What part do we add next?" The web will look most web-like if you place a hollow circle in the middle by attaching yarn to two sides of the circle and anchoring it to the sides. Have the children cut lengths of yarn and attach them from the center circle to the edges. Children often underestimate how long a strand needs to be so they will have lots of loose ends. That's okay. You can tell the children, "It looks like an insect broke some of the strands and got free.
- Help the children attach tape between the non-sticky strands. It doesn't matter how many pieces of tape the children attach or how far apart they space the pieces of tape. The children will just enjoy filling the web.
- Suggest the children draw and cut out flies or other insects to attach to the sticky web strands.
- If you have a tree in your school yard with a low branch you can build a web under the tree. Use the branch for the top, tie multiple strings to the branch and anchor them to the ground with tent stakes.
- It is okay if the children's creation does not look like a real spider web. The key concepts are the non-sticky and sticky threads, and the hard work a spider does to build a web.
- Ask the children, "How should we label our web?" Record their ideas and decide on a label. Create and post a sign with the children such as, "Room 4's Giant Web."
This activity was taken from Thinking BIG, Learning BIG: Connecting Science, Math, Literacy, and Language in Early Childhood (ISBN: 978-0-87659-067-6, 312 pages, $39.95).
For more BIG activities that engage little learners, visit our website. Author Marie Faust Evitt also shares her own preschool classroom's activities online and on Facebook. Connect with her for more curriculum inspiration!