K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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a fuzzy tarantula creeping among the plants

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • use “before, during, and after” reading strategies to read and comprehend a nonfiction book. This includes activating background knowledge, setting a purpose for reading, scanning the selection, summarizing the main points/retell, etc.
  • become familiar with new vocabulary words: poison, fangs, paralyzes.
  • describe characteristics of a tarantula.
  • write one or two facts they have learned about tarantulas and illustrate. This will be done with the Kids Pix Studio Deluxe or other drawing program.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


  • Tarantula by Jenny Feely
  • paper
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • pencils

Technology resources

  • Kid Pix Studio Deluxe Software by Broderbund (or other drawing program)
  • computer and printer
  • projection device or Avery Key (optional)


Students will be familiar with Bubble Maps and have prior experience using them as a guide while writing. Students will also have experience using the Kid Pix program. (If your students have never used the Kid Pix program, give them some time to experiment with it prior to this lesson.


  1. Begin with a discussion on spiders to activate background knowledge. Ask the students what they already know about spiders. You can even record students’ information on a Circle Map or other graphic organizer to display throughout the lesson.
  2. Introduce the book Tarantula and let students do a picture walk. Talk about the pictures in the story. Discuss whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. Introduce new vocabulary: poison, paralyzes, fangs. Set a purpose for reading the book. Tell students they want to learn as much as they can about tarantulas so they can share it in their Kid Pix projects. Remind students that the computer is another tool we can use to communicate and share information.
  3. There are some different options you can use for reading the story. Students can read it silently, orally, with a partner, echo read, etc. Decide what works best with your children. Assign students two pages of text at a time. Before reading each section, set a purpose. For the first two pages tell students that you are going to ask them to describe what a tarantula looks like. Then stop to discuss this with them after reading. Prior to reading pages 6–8, tell students you want to know what happens to a tarantula as he gets bigger. Some other possibilities: ask them to read to find out how our skin is different from a tarantula’s or what a tarantula’s skin is like. Continue this pattern throughout the book: set a purpose, read, discuss.
  4. Next begin your Bubble Map activity so students can share what they have learned. You can either give students a blank bubble map or let them draw their own. Have them put “tarantula” in the center. I did a large one on chart paper as students did their individual ones. Then ask the students to tell you words or phrases to describe the tarantula and fill them in the bubble map. If your school does not use bubble maps, you can substitute another type of graphic organizer.
  5. When your bubble maps/organizers are finished, let students share what they have learned using Kid Pix or other drawing program. Using the bubble map as a guide ask them to write two or three sentences about tarantulas and illustrate it. Review with students where the home row keys are before they begin typing. Also, make sure to use correct computer terminology: monitor, mouse, etc. as you give directions. This helps reinforce the words with students. You may want to spend a couple of minutes reviewing the Kid Pix drawing tool and how to add a text box. Finally, print and display their work. Then let students share what they have learned with the group. Another option is to put their work into a Kid Pix slideshow and show it to the class (if you have some kind of projection device or large monitor).


Throughout the guided reading session monitor students’ comprehension through questioning. While completing the bubble map you will be able to gauge how much the students have learned from the book by their responses. You can also rate students’ finished Kid Pix project using the attached rubric. Look at aspects such as spelling, mechanics, graphics, knowledge gained.

Supplemental information

Here is a Kid Pix Sample to show what the final product may look like.


I am a Reading Specialist who works with children in a small group setting. I did this lesson with a group of five second graders. Since the text is suitable for guided reading, you could do the lesson with one of your Reading groups at a time. The students who participated in the lesson are working below grade level and the text is written at an end of 1st Grade level. Therefore, first grade teachers can use this with their students as well.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 1
          • 1.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
        • Reading: Informational Text

          • 1.RIT.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
        • Grade 2
          • 2.RIT.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Computer Technology Skills (2005)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will understand important issues of a technology-based society and will exhibit ethical behavior in the use of computer and other technologies.
    • Objective 1.02: Demonstrate correct use of common technology terms (e.g., hardware, software, CD, hard drive). Strand - Societal/Ethical Issues
  • Goal 2: The learner will demonstrate knowledge and skills in the use of computer and other technologies.
    • Objective 2.08: Identify and use menu/tool bar features/functions in word processing documents. Strand - Keyboard Utilization/Word Processing/Desk Top Publishing
    • Objective 2.09: Identify and use multimedia tools to combine text and graphics as a class/group assignment. Strand - Multimedia/Presentation

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.02: Use text for a variety of functions, including literary, informational, and practical.
    • Objective 2.06: Recall main ideas, facts and details from a text.
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Use personal experiences and knowledge to interpret written and oral messages.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Write structured, informative presentations and narratives when given help with organization.
    • Objective 4.09: Use media and technology to enhance the presentation of information to an audience for a specific purpose.