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


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Related pages

  • Arachnid anatomy!: This lesson is part of a science unit entitled “Spiders: Fact and Fiction.” During this lesson, learning will focus on specific body anatomy, functions and distinguishing characteristics of spiders.
  • An integrated lesson comparing the butterfly and frog life cycles: Students will build on their prior knowledge about the butterfly life cycle to compare and contrast the life cycles of butterflies and frogs. Students will locate butterflies on the school grounds and create pictographs and models of fractions to explain their findings mathematically. Students will also use a variety of resources to read about and study the food, space and air needed by butterflies and frogs to grow. They will create visual and written products to demonstrate their findings.
  • Is it a duck? Is it a chick?: Students will compare and contrast the characteristics of a chick and a duckling by using a Venn Diagram.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • contrast spiders and insects and list at least five differences.
  • classify pictures of animals as spiders or insects.
  • identify spiders as belonging to the arachnid family.
  • identify a spider’s body parts (fangs, jaws, pedipalpi, eyes, legs, cephalothorax, abdomen, and spinnerets) using numbers to describe and count the parts.
  • make predictions about what will happen if an insect, sound, light, or movement are introduced to the spider’s environment.
  • write sentences about their spider observations using the unit vocabulary.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


Note: Other books about spiders may be used if these are not available.

  • Spiders are Animals by J. Holloway and C. Harper
  • A Look at Spiders by C. and B. Moon
  • large and small labeled pictures of spiders
  • glass jars (approximately five depending on class size; these will be the class vivariums)
  • soil
  • leaves and twigs
  • cotton balls
  • spiders (one for each jar)
  • chart paper
  • spider journals
  • spider body parts sheet
  • crayons
  • magnifying glasses
  • paper
  • pencils
  • construction paper
  • large and small paper plates

Technology resources

Overhead projector


It would be helpful before this lesson to complete a KWL chart with your students to see what they already know about spiders and what they want to learn. Prior to beginning this lesson, use glass jars with small holes punched in the lids or cover with cheese cloth to create vivariums for the spiders for each small group of students. Put inside each jar some soil, a few dead leaves and twigs, a water-soaked cotton ball, and a spider. Label the jars with group names so that the students will be able to identify their spider throughout the unit. Spider journals should already be assembled and all other materials should be gathered for the activities.


  1. Read Spiders are Animals and A Look at Spiders. Discuss the readings and brainstorm facts about spiders found in the readings. Use chart paper to create a bubble map of spider facts.
  2. On another piece of chart paper, draw two columns. Label one “Spiders” and the other “Insects.” List facts about spiders in one column beginning with body parts of a spider. Explain that spiders are not insects but arachnids. Define an arachnid. Talk about the differences between spiders and insects and list characteristics of insects in the second column. During the discussion use large pictures of spiders and insects to demonstrate the differences.
  3. Distribute a copy of the spider body parts sheet to each student. Place a copy of the sheet on the overhead as well. Discuss names, location and pronunciations of spider body parts with the students.
  4. Divide class into equal groups with approximately five students per group.
  5. Provide each group with a spider vivarium, crayons, magnifying glasses, various pictures of spiders and insects, and spider journals, paper and pencils.
  6. In their groups, students will use the magnifying glasses to observe the spider’s body parts. In their journals they will draw an accurate picture of the spider in their vivarium and label the parts. They may use the spider body parts sheet as a guide. They will also record their observations of the spider’s activities during this time. They will also be making and writing predictions about adding an insect to the vivarium and introducing sound, light, and movement to the vivarium. Throughout the unit, students will gather in their groups to make observations of their spider and record them.
  7. After making their observations, each group will work together to classify and sort pictures of spiders and insects. Have each child create a double bubble map or a Venn diagram that compares insects and spiders.
  8. Groups will then discuss as a class some of their observations and how they sorted their pictures.
  9. After discussion, students will return to their desks. Each student will then be provided with a large and small paper plate, eight strips of construction paper, glue and crayons (if needed.)
  10. Students will use their materials to create a paper plate spider using the large plate for the abdomen and the small plate for the cephalothorax. These two plates will be glued together on the ends.
  11. Students will then fold the construction paper strips accordion style for the spider’s legs.
  12. Students add other body parts (jaws, fangs, pedipalpi, eyes, spinnerets) using scrap paper and crayons.


  • While students are in their groups, they should be working together as a team and completing their journals.
  • Insect and spider pictures should be classified correctly. Assess each student’s double-bubble map for common characteristics of spiders and insects and differences.
  • Assess students’ journals for completeness. Spider drawings should include all spider body parts. Body parts should be labeled correctly. Predictions and observations should be written in complete sentences.
  • Assess paper plate spiders for accuracy of body parts’ locations.

Supplemental information


For more information on Thinking Maps: Tools For Learning (ie: Bubble Map and Double-Bubble Map): try contacting Thinking Maps Inc.


When constructing the paper plate spiders it may be easier to staple the plates together rather than glue. Liquid glue is better than the stick glue.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 2

        • 2.L.1 Understand animal life cycles. 2.L.1.1 Summarize the life cycle of animals: Birth Developing into an adult Reproducing Aging and death 2.L.1.2 Compare life cycles of different animals such as, but not limited to, mealworms, ladybugs, crickets, guppies...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations and build an understanding of animal life cycles.
    • Objective 1.04: Compare and contrast life cycles of other animals such as mealworms, ladybugs, crickets, guppies or frogs.