Tarantulas! lesson plan

Tarantulas are huge, hairy, and terrifying! Learn more about this colorful, mysterious arthropod before designing one's own colorful, eight-legged creature.

  • 1.

    Tarantulas live in burrows in dry deserts or humid rainforests. They use their silk to line their nests or cover their burrow openings to guard against intruders. They also spin silk drag lines to use as trip wires, letting them know when an enemy or prey is near. Invite students to conduct an investigation into the life of a tarantula, what it preys upon, what serves as its nourishment, how them move, their unique fangs, as well as other interesting facts that students select.

  • 2.

    Once their research is complete, invite students to create their own unique version of this amazing creature. Begin by providing the class construction paper, Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, scissors, Crayola Twistables, and Crayola School Glue.

  • 3.

    Instruct students to fold construction paper in half. Use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to sketch the large head and even larger thorax (body) of the spider. Cut out sketches with Crayola Scissors. Students will have two identical shapes of each piece, one each for the top and bottom. Use Crayola Twistables to create a vividly colored head and body. Color all four pieces. Try contrasting stripes, dots, plaid, zigzags, or any design for this new species.

  • 4.

    Draw, color, and cut out two fangs, and two sets of four eyes on stalks. Use Crayola School Glue to attach the fangs to the front underside of the head. Bend the eye stalks. Glue the eyes standing upright to the top of the head. Air-dry the glue.

  • 5.

    To make legs, wind two different colors of chenille sticks together. Make eight legs. Bend the feet and "knees." Color long thin strips of paper. Cut into rectangles. Wrap and glue rectangles as elbows and ankles onto the legs of your tarantula. Air-dry the rectangles.

  • 6.

    Apply glue around the edges of the body pieces, leaving a space open for stuffing. Slide two pairs of legs between the glued areas on each side of the head and thorax. Air-dry the glue thoroughly.

  • 7.

    Apply glue around the edges of the body pieces, leaving a space open for stuffing. Slide two pairs of legs between the glued areas on each side of the head and thorax. Air-dry the glue thoroughly.

  • 8.

    Students label their tarantulas with a colorful, descriptive names.

  • 9.


  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • LA: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • MATH: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
  • SCI: Construct explanations of how structures in animals serve functions of growth, survival, reproduction, and behavior.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.


  • Possible classroom resources include: The Tarantula Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) by Sy Montgomery; Uncover a Tarantula: Take a Three-Dimensional Look Inside a Tarantula! By David George Gordon; Tarantulas (Nature's Children) by Vicky Franchino; What Is an Arthropod? (Science of Living Things) by Kathryn Smithyman & Bobbie Kalman; Dirty Rotten Bugs: Arthropods Unite to Tell Their Side of the Story by Gillian Bonotaux
  • Encourage students to research other types of spiders and various insects. Students compare and contrast spiders with other insects. Use Venn diagrams to illustrate the likenesses and differences.
  • The name tarantula is derived from spiders that live around the town of Taranto, Spain. People in this town believed that if a tarantula bit them, they would die unless the bite was treated quickly, Encourage students to investigate the treatment these people suggested for the bite.
  • Students work in teams of two or small groups to compose an original poem of a life experience from the perspective of the tarantula, such as locating and consuming its prey or simply exploring its environment. What might the tarantula be thinking? How might it be feeling? Illustrate the poem using Crayola Colored Pencils.
  • Students investigate the life cycle of a tarantula. Sketch each stage of life and label it. Include a few sentences for elaboration. Display sketches in the classroom.