Utah Lesson Plans
Material Type:
Upper Elementary
  • Ebsco
  • Gale
  • UOL
  • UOL3-5
  • Uollesson
  • Uolscience
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    Education Standards

    Classifying Spiders

    Classifying Spiders


    This resource is a Science student activity that utilizes Utah's Online Library resources - specifically, Gale's Kids InfoBits and EBSCO Explora Elementary - to help students learn about classifying spiders. 

    About Utah's Online Library

    Utah's Online Library provides Utah educators and students free access to high-quality reference collections such as EBSCO, Gale Reference Collection, World Book, eMedia, and LearningExpress Library.

    This activity was designed to help educators utilize this amazing resource in their classrooms.

    Note: Utah educators and students visiting Utah's Online Library from a school computer should be automatically authenticated. When at home, students must use the home access login that their teacher or school media specialist can provide. Utah educators can use either their my.uen login or the home access login.


    Essential Questions: How are living things classified? How can we use the observable properties of organisms to group them?

    Spiders are arachnids - not insects. An insect's body has 3 main parts (a head, a thorax, and an abdomen), and all insects have 6 legs. Since a spider is not an insect, its body is different. It has 2 body parts (a cephalothorax and an abdomen). All spiders have 8 legs.

    All spiders are carnivores. They mostly eat insects or occasionally each other. Some larger spiders even eat small birds and small rodents.

    Scientists often classify spiders into two groups:
    (1) spiders that catch food with webs
    (2) spiders that catch food by hunting them

    Using the resources in Utah's Online Library, have your students do further research about spiders. Have them identify types of spiders that fit into each of the 2 groups. For example, black widow spiders fit into the group of spiders that catch their prey with a web. Tarantulas fit into the group that catch their prey by hunting and attacking.

    As they are gathering further information about spiders, have students brainstorm other ways that spiders might be classified. For instance, some spiders could possibly be classified by the types of webs that they spin.

    Types of webs include:

    • sheet webs - These webs are very common. They are flat and often found over the tops of plants and bushes.
    • funnel webs - Spiders usually hide the bottom of their funnel webs. When an insect becomes trapped at the top of the sticky, silken web, the spider comes out and drags the insect deep into the web before it eats it.
    • tangled webs - They are not sticky as most webs are. But their tangled construction still causes prey to be trapped.
    • orb webs - Orb webs are the kind of web that we usually associate with spiders. They look like concentric circles with connecting vertical lines. These webs are not very strong and often have to be repaired or even rebuilt every day.

    Gale's Kids InfoBits has 80 book excerpts about spiders, 894 magazine articles, and 56 really excellent pictures.

    Ebsco's Explora Elementary has encyclopedic information, magazine articles, and images.

    Curriculum Connections:

    SEEd - 4th Grade