Paso Partners - Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Language: An Instructional Program Purchase a print copy of Paso Partners
Introduction Grade K Lessons Grade 1 Lessons Grade 2 Lessons Grade 3 Lessons Bibliography
Table of Contents
Lesson Overview
Teacher Background Information
Lesson Focus
Objective Grid
Lesson 1: Spiders! Scary or Nice?
Lesson 2: Spiders Have Special Characteristics
Lesson 3: Spiders Catch Prey
-Spider Venom
-A Spider's Breakfast
-Catch A Fly
-Spider Fun
Lesson 4: The Spider's Life Cycle
Lesson 5: Spiders Have Natural Enemies
Lesson 6: Spiders Live Everywhere
Lesson 7: Now We Know Spiders!
Spanish Language Translations

Spiders - Lesson 3: Spiders Catch Prey

BIG IDEAS:Spiders catch and eat their prey and are also caught and eaten by their enemies.

On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Organizing the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
- List of Activities for this Lesson

Whole Group Work

  • Books: The Very Busy Spider by E. Carle and The Spider Makes a Web by J. Lexau
  • Pictures of spiderwebs, or observe the webs constructed in the vivarium
  • Pictures of spiders that do and do not catch prey with a web
  • A chain about 12 inches long, or a picture of a chain
  • Word tags: prey; camouflage; enemy; food chain; frog; bird; snake; ballooning; spiderlings

Encountering the Idea

You have been observing spiders for a while in our class vivarium. One reason we observe the spiders is to learn some important things about them. For example: What do spiders eat? Where do spiders get food? How do they get food? We also want to know if other animals eat spiders. Are spiders themselves food? If you were a spider, what would you do to hide from your enemies and not get eaten? Look at the spiders in the vivarium. What color are they? Are all spiders brown? Are there green spiders? Red? During the time we spend in the centers, we will try to discover some of the answers to these questions.

Exploring the Idea

First, we will read a story that will give us some ideas about spiders' food and how it is caught. Read: The Very Busy Spider or The Spider Makes A Web. After reading the book, ask the students: Do you think that other animals eat spiders? Do birds eat spiders? What else eats spiders?

Let's discuss this: If you were a spider, what would you do to hide from your enemies and not get eaten? (Hide, use camouflage.) Look at the spiders in the vivarium. Can you see their camouflage? What is their camouflage? We will be exploring these new ideas in the center activities.

At the Science Center, the students

  1. sort pictures of safe and unsafe insects and other animals.
  2. sort pictures into those that are spider's prey and those that are not.
  3. complete Activity - Spider Venom.
  4. complete Activity - A Spider's Breakfast.
Collection of pictures of various kinds of spiders
Collection of pictures of various kinds of insects and other small animals
(lady beetle, fly, bee, wasp, snake, snail, caterpillar, ant, roach, water beetle, grasshopper)


  1. Students sort the pictures into animals that spiders eat, those they do not eat, and those that are spiders.
  2. The students report to the teacher or to the group why they sorted them as they did, including reporting on spiders' characteristic of having eight legs. They count the legs to see if there are eight, and also say that four plus four is eight.
  3. The students also count the eyes: spiders usually have eight eyes; other animals usually have only two (ant, grasshopper, caterpillar).
At the Mathematics Center:
  1. Activity - Spider gets the Fly - a spinner game.
    • One student is the spider and the other is the fly. The spider and the fly move on a board the number of times shown on a die or a pair of dice, depending on the students' ability to finds sums of 12 and less. The spider catches the fly when the spider lands on the same square as the fly.
  2. Students design a web on paper and then follow the design to draw or make their web on the floor or rug with yarn.
  3. Complete Activity - Catch a Fly.
At the Art Center:
  1. Students construct webs with yarn glued to construction paper or with cooled spaghetti. They puts knots on the yarn to represent the sticky parts that hold the prey.
  2. Complete Activity - Spider Fun.
  3. Make paper-bag spider costumes and stress camouflage.
  4. Make Black Widow spider with an hourglass design.
  5. Make a chain, with at least three to five links with one word written on each link: grasshopper, spider, frog, plant, bird, snake, fish. The link with the word "plant" is first and the second word is "grasshopper" because grasshoppers eat plants; grasshopper is followed by "spider", followed by "frog", etc. Frogs are eaten by birds, snakes and fish, so place those links after the frog link. The students use the words "first", "second", "next" and "last" to describe the links of the chains they make.
At the Music Center:
Students sing along and read words written on a chart, and tape the song:
"One Elephant" (also found in Spanish).
One elephant went out to play
out on a spider web one day
He had such an enormous day
that he called for another elephant
to come to play.

At the Writing Center:
Students examine a spiderweb in the vivarium. They write an illustrated description about how the web looks, feels and works.

For Physical Education, students play freeze tag game- getting "stung" by the Black Widow.

Getting the Idea

Discuss how the spider uses a web to catch prey. Show different types of webs and how different spiders catch their prey. Show word cards during the discussion. Discuss how camouflage helps spiders catch their prey and also helps them hide from their enemies.

Discuss the notion of a food chain with the students. Spiders consume many different kinds of insects, but they themselves are prey to other animals. At the bottom of the chain are the plants because they make their own food. At the top of the chain are humans. Humans consume plants, but humans eat meat also. Since frogs are prey to many different animals, several different links are placed within the frog link.

How does a spider use its venom? Are all spiders harmful to humans? Do all spiders bite? Which kinds of spiders have been known to kill humans with their bite? If not all spider bites cause death, in what other way can spider bites be harmful?

Use the "Trap-door Spider" as a choral reading. Expand the reading by comparing one spider and the web it spins to another type of spider and the web it makes.

Trap-door Spider hiding underground
In his tunnel where he can't be found.
He digs it deep and lines it with silk
And works very hard until it is built.
Patiently he waits and doesn't make a sound,
So he can feel the vibrations on the ground.
He crawls to the top to get a good view.
If you are an insect .... he might catch you!!
Unknown Source

How does the trap-door spider catch its prey? Does it build a web? How do the leaves, sticks and grass help the spider? (The spider senses the vibrations of the leaves and sticks and knows there is prey outside the trap.)

Compare this method to the method the purse-web spider uses to catch its prey. A spiderling can use its spinnerets as soon as it is born. The spiderling puts out a silk line called a dragline. What do you suppose the spiderling uses this line for? (To catch food.) How does it find food? When a spiderling sways on its line, it can catch prey. This is called ballooning. Why do you think it is called ballooning?

Organizing the Idea

The class designs and makes a booklet on web-building, stressing the idea of sequence _ the students verbally dictate the steps. Provide students with pictures that suggest the various stages of web-building, or students may draw their own pictures. The teacher may also use this activity to assess understanding.

Journal Writing - Write a story of how a spider catches and eats its prey - the student may select any type of spider that the class has discussed. Example: trap-door, wolf, black widow, etc.

Closure and Assessment

  1. Write and illustrate a "Facts about Spiders" class Big Book.
  2. Students complete Activity - Catch a Fly as a culminating activity.

Oral Assessment
  1. Tell me about the spider web. What does it look like? How does it feel?
  2. If you were a spider, where would you spin your web and why?
  3. How does a spider use its web?
  4. Students explain how the dissolved sugar cube in Activity - Spider Venom is like a spider's venom.
Performance Assessment
  1. Assess quality of completed spider webs.
  2. Using labeled paper links (with plant and animal names), the student places at least three links, including the spider link, in the correct order in which the organisms exist in the spider's food web.
  3. Assess quality of completed Spider Fun and A Spider's Breakfast.

List of Activities for this Lesson

  1. Spider Venom
  2. A Spider's Breakfast
  3. Catch A Fly
  4. Spider Fun

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