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Spider Indentification Day is fun for all ages, and can be tailored to your child’s learning level. Spiders and spider webs are fascinating and creepy at the same time – which makes for an exciting day.
Start with Storytime
Before you see live spiders, spend some time reading about fictional friendly spiders and learning facts about spiders so the kids will know what to look for and not be afraid of them.
All books are available from Amazon.com, or check your local library
This is a very cute and fun book but only read it if you’re planning on taking a spider home! It’s a story about a little spider who tries to convince a family that she’d make the perfect pet – even better than a dog or a cat – but scares the family every time she tries. In the end she enchants the family when she’s not even trying. Great story about someone finding their place in the world, but kids may take the story to heart and want a spider for a pet!
This book teaches children facts about spiders by looking at life from their perspective. Narrator talks to little spider teaching it how to spin a web and what prey to watch for. ($6.99 at Amazon.com)
This book teaches kindergarten to grade 4 aged children all about the silk spiders use and how they make webs. ($5.99 at Amazon.com)
This spider reference book by Time is written especially for children ages 4 – 8 and tells about spiders all over the world, in deserts, rainforests and even your own home. Uses color photos that are fascinating to children. ($3.99 at Amazon.com)
This book contains close up photos by Nic Bishop who even raised spiders in order to photograph them. The book is suggested for ages 4 – 8, but is a great choice for older kids who are reluctant readers and love insects. Bishop gives interesting information beyond the usual that gets the kid’s interest (such as how they lay eggs, how they turn their prey’s innards into soup to eat them). If you want more information including the natural history of spiders, this is the ideal book. ($12.23 at Amazon.com)
The Itsy Bitsy Spider on an adventure through a house, climbing up walls, buckets, and chairs, and facing setbacks such as fans, mice, and cats, until she finally climbs high into a tree to spin her web and enjoy a much-deserved rest in the sun. Accompanying CD has an introduction by the author, a lively rendition of the famous song with children singing with musical page breaks so they can read the book while they sing, and a read-along version of the story with sound effects. ($7.95 at Amazon.com, including CD)
The Spider Hike
Take a Spider Guide Book
A Hiking We Will Go!
If you have older children, visit some nature trails so it feels like an outing. Ask them where they think they’ll find spiders and let them discover if they’re correct or not. If not, guide them to see webs on plants, look under bark and rocks, and pay attention to curled leaves or silken cases.
When we went with our children we brought small magnifier boxes so they could view them close up safely. (They are great for looking at other things such as stones & stamps too.) The boxes are perfect for taking home a spider if they’re going to keep one “as a pet” or to scientifically observe. When home they can put the spider in the habitat they created.
How to Collect Spider Webs
What You’ll Need:
- Black construction paper
- talcum powder
- scissors or knife
While hiking, look for interesting spider webs that doesn’t have a spider or its prey in it.
When you see one you’d like to collect, lightly spray it with the hairspray. This makes it sticky.
Dust the spider web lightly with the talcum powder. It sticks to the hairspray so you can see the web better.
Place the construction paper on the other side of the web (without the powder). The spider web will stick to it, thanks to the hairspray.
Cut the web around the edges of the paper to disconnect it.
Can you figure out what kind of spider made the web by its design?
My Motherly Tip:
When my children were little, we collected all sorts of little critters and created habitats for them inside a large mayonnaise jar (see arrow in photo below). Thanks to the book Pets in a Jar, we learned how to create the proper living space for each species we studied and how to feed them. If you’re going to collect a spider, try to find a large jar and poke holes in the lid with a hammer and nail or fold a piece of waxed paper, poke small holes in it and put it over the mouth of the jar with an elastic. Cleaned out, this jar can house so many little fellows over and over again.
- That caterpillars eat the same kind of leaf that their egg was laid on and they won’t eat anything else.
- Toads make very interesting pets. Kids can watch them for hours.
- Ants need water in their soil but if you put too much in, the water pools in the bottom of the jar and ants only know how to go DOWN to get away from water which is very tragic. Incidentally, we also learned that when the queen ant dies and isn’t there to tell the worker ants to eat, they just keep crawling around – right over the food – without eating until they all die.
- We had planned on watching tadpoles mature into frogs, but we learned – too late for all the tadpoles – that there is a tadpole eating wormy thing that looks like a piece of dead grass stuck on them. Every morning we woke up to one less tadpole. It was a complete mystery until the last one.
How to Collect Spiders
Create a Habitat in a Jar for Live Spiders
- For your spider’s habitat, put some sticks in a jar of any size so it can make a web between them or crawl on them.
- A spider needs moisture, but not a lot of water. You can put a little potted plant inside or some wadded tissue that is dampened. Make sure these items keep damp, but not wet. No water inside the jar or your spider can drown.
- In the place where you collected your spider, collect some leaves from the ground to put on the bottom of your jar. He can hide here and may even find some bugs to eat.
How to Feed a Spider
- A spider only needs to eat every 3 – 7 days
- Depending on the size of the spider they will eat fruit flies or house flies. You can collect both by setting a piece of fruit outside and catching the flies.
- Don’t put more than one spider inside the jar. The biggest one will eat the smaller one.
- Never put your jar in the sunlight. All inhabitants will overheat and die.
- If you see the spider spinning a ball for its eggs, it is a wondrous thing to watch. We discovered the hard way that when the babies hatch they are tiny enough to fit through any hole and are almost transparent so they’re difficult to see. Keep your observation jar outside in a shady spot unless you’re planning on raising spiders in your home!
Fingers crossed that you won’t need it – but – we have a US Spider Bite Guide with the symptoms and treatment for each type of spider bite.
How to Preserve Spiders for a Collection
Spiders dry up so the best way to preserve them is in a vial of alcohol. (Rubbing alcohol works fine.)
In a Specimen Display Case
Put the spider in a tight container in the freezer for a few minutes. It will enter torpor and die quickly and easily. Then you can mount it in a specimen display case.
Watch them play and discover what they learned on Spider Identification Day.
Remote Control Spider
This remote control tarantula spider is only $5.44 at Amazon.com – at that price you can get each child their own!
- Realistic hairy texture
- Light-up eyes
- Independent leg movement
- Spider egg remote control
- 2 AAA batteries required
Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
If you have younger children, here is a Ty Beanie Babies – Spinner the Spider
Provided the children aren’t afraid of spiders, continue the fun and get the children easily tucked into bed with glow in the dark spiders.
First, they can take their spiders into the tub with them and while they splash around the lights in the bathroom will “charge up” the spider’s glow in the dark capabilities.
And then they can dry the spiders off and take them to bed with them and watch them glow under the blankets, on the nightstand – anywhere they want.
We lived on 10 acres of mostly forest when my kids were small so we went on many adventures, including spider hunts. I would plan the day in advance so I could have all the “gear” we needed for it to be a learning experience as well as a toy at the end to add to the fun and so I could hear what they learned when they played with it. It will astound you!
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Once a week we'll tell you the upcoming daily celebrations & the articles you may have missed.