Fascinating Spiders

Children will compare spiders and insects.


Lesson Objective

Children will identify the differences between spiders and insects.


What You'll Need

  • Close-up pictures of insects (see Lesson Tips)
  • Close-up pictures of spiders (see Lesson Tips)
  • Magnifying glasses – 1 per child

What To Do

  1. Review background information about insects (see Did You Know?).
  2. Tell children that they will be comparing spiders and insects.
  3. Distribute magnifying glasses and the pictures of the spiders and insects.
  4. Tell children to examine the pictures closely, and ask them about the differences (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  5. Explain to children that both insects and spiders are animals known as arthropods (see Did You Know?).
  6. Explain that arthropods can be divided into three smaller groups; insects, crustaceans, and arachnids. Spiders belong to the group called arachnids (see Did You Know?).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Explain what an insect is.
  • Choose an insect, and describe what it looks like.
  • How do the insects’ bodies compare to the spiders’ bodies?
  • Describe the mouths of the spiders.
  • Explain how a spider is different from an insect.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Allow the children to make spiders using egg cartons, black paint, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. Cut each egg carton into six sections with two egg cups each attached. Have the children paint their egg cartons. When the egg cartons are dry, push 4 pipe cleaners that have been cut in half into each side of the second section of the carton. Allow the children to glue eyes on the front section of the egg carton.
  • With the class, make a spider web with yarn. Sit in a circle on the floor. Hold on to the end of a ball of yarn, and roll it to a child. Demonstrate how to wrap the yarn loosely around your finger, and roll the yarn ball to another child. Continue rolling the yarn ball until everyone has had a turn to place the yarn around their finger. Place a plastic insect on the yarn web. Have the children notice that the insect falls off the web. Explain how a real web is different from a yarn web and why the other insect would stick.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain what an insect’s body looks like?
  • Could children explain what a spider’s body looks like?
  • Could children tell how a spider is different from an insect?


Did You Know?

Arthropods are animals with segmented bodies, six or more jointed legs, and a hard shell called an exoskeleton. There are three major groups of arthropods: insects (the largest group), arachnids, and crustaceans. All arachnids have eight legs, two body parts, and no antennae. Arachnids also have two other pairs of limbs. The first pair is for catching and holding prey; this is also where the poison sacs and fangs are located. Another pair is for feeling and manipulating prey.

Insects eat mostly plants, but a spider’s favorite food is insects. Some insects have mouth parts that are similar to a spider’s; the difference is that insects can chew, and spiders cannot. Spiders have fangs that are used for injecting their prey with paralyzing venom. Spiders then douse their prey with digestive juices to liquefy the prey. Then, the spider slurps up the insides of the prey’s body.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • spider – a small animal with eight legs and a body made up of two parts.
  • insect – a small animal with a hard covering over its three-part body and six legs.
  • animal – one of a large group of living things that is not a plant.
  • arthropod – a large group of animals with hard shells on the outsides of their bodies, legs with joints, and no bones on the insides of their bodies.
  • arachnid – an arthropod having four pairs of legs and belonging to the class that includes scorpions, ticks, and spiders.
  • exoskeleton – an external supporting structure, such as the shell of a crustacean.

Lesson Tips

  • Instead of using pictures of insects and spiders, you can use plastic insects and spiders (available inexpensively at discount stores). At the end of the investigation, children can sort them into piles of insects and non-insects.
  • Search online for close-up pictures of insects and spiders.
  • Make sure the close-up pictures of the arthropods clearly show the parts of the bodies (segmented bodies, jointed legs, eyes, and exoskeleton).


  • Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • Spiders by Gail Gibbons
  • Are You a Spider? by Judy Allen

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS