Be Nice to Spiders, by M. Bloy Graham

Helen the spider comes to the zoo and happily lives among the animals, until it’s time for the Mayor’s visit.  What happens when all of Helen’s webs are knocked down?  After reading the story children will be more aware of the benefit of spiders.


  • Play dough that is getting too dry for daily use.
  • Pipe cleaners in many colors cut into 3-4 inch sections.
  • Contact paper cut into 12-inch sections
  • A bag of plastic spiders or a bag of black beans to pretend to be spiders


  • Matchbox (little tiny box, maybe it could hold one matchbox car or a piece of jewelry)
  • Ventilator (the vent, chimney like thing that you see on roofs)
  • Satisfied (feeling happy and contented)
  • Paradise (the perfect place for a spider to live)
  • Arachnid  (animals that have two body parts)
  • Prey (the next victim for lunch)
  • Sticky (when something gets stuck to something else upon contact)

Before Reading the Story

Ask the children if they help do chores at home?  Let them share anyway that they help out at home.  If they do not respond to your question ask if anyone is responsible for making their bed, taking care of a pet, brushing their teeth before bed?  Ask the children to help name some of the jobs you have at school to do (sweeper, plant watering, book straightener, etc.  Talk about jobs, why do we have them?  Why is it important to keep our room clean?  Do you have a custodian who comes in after hours?  Talk about their job.  Take a moment and help the children write a short note to the custodian that you can hang by the door.  (Thank you for cleaning our room, it looks pretty.  I like when our room smells good.  You wash the floor, my Mommy washes the floor at my house).  Explain to the children that today’s story is about a helper at the zoo.  Show the children the cover of the book and point to the spider.  Say this is Helen and she is the helper at the zoo.  Ask the children if they can guess how Helen helps?  Read the title and begin the story.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities;develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them. AND Literacy/Early Writing; develops understanding that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes.

Reading the Story

On the very first page when the zookeeper reads the note from Billy, stop and ask the children if they can guess what kind of pet might be in that little tiny box?  When Helen runs like lightning, use your hand to show how quickly.  When you get to the part that says, “the lions were annoyed but Helen was delighted”, stop and ask why they think Helen was so happy to see all those flies? (Spiders eat flies).  When the zookeeper tells the men to get rid of all the spider webs, stop and ask the children what they think is going to happen?

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; tpo act out stories on dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children if they remember why we should all be nice to spiders?  (They eat flies).   Talk to the children about some spider facts and safety.  1) Spiders belong to the family called Arachnids because they have two body parts.  Who knows how many body parts insects have (3)?  The world is full of many different kinds of spiders.  Some are poisonous and dangerous to people but many are not.  Spiders will bite if they are scared so please do not touch spiders.  Spiders have sticky feet that they can use to climb up trees and walls. 

Science/Science Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Put out your old playdough today and many pipe cleaners cut in quarters.  Explain to the children that you are going to be making spiders.  Have them roll the play dough into a ball and then slightly flatten it.  Ask the children if they can remember how many legs a spider has (8)?  Have them count out eight legs and stick them into their spider.  Spiders also have 8 eyes.  The child can either poke 8 holes to represent eyes of add 8 googly eyes.  When the playdough dries, the children can paint their spiders. Or, make spiders from pinecones.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts. AND Creative Arts/Art; progresses i abilities to create drawings, paintings, models, and other art creations that are more detailed, creative, or realistic.

Music and Movement

Sing The Eensy Weensy Spider.  Change it up by making a Teeny Tiny Spider and a Humongous Giant Spider.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied spoken vocabulary.

If you have a spider puppet or stuffed toy spider you can do the poem, Little Miss Muffet.

Choose a child to be Miss or Mr Muffet.  Put a pillow in the center of your group circle and have the child sit on it.  Begin the poem. At the “along came a spider”, allow another child to put the spider in front, behind, beside, on her head, in her lap.  The children must say where the spider is and the Muffit child can jump away.  The child who put the spider in a position is now the new Muffit and another child gets to place the spider.

            Little Miss/Mr Muffet

            Sat on a tuffet (another name for pillow)

            Eating her curds and whey (kind of like cottage cheese)

            Along came a spider

            Who sat down _____________her/him

            And frightened Miss/Mr Muffet away.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasing understanding of directionality, order, positions of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front, and behind.


Use masking tape to make a large spider web design on the floor.  Challenge the children to use blocks to cover the spider web.  Are they able to find the correct sized blocks to fit upon the tape?  Can they make a pattern using several types of blocks?  Add any plastic insects that you might have today, or add several flies from the resource pattern.  The children can pretend to fly their insect and get caught in the web.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows progress in using standard and non-standard measures for length and area of objects.


Explain to the children that spider webs are sticky so that insects, like flies, get stuck in the web and cannot get out. The spider then eats the insect for lunch or dinner. Give each child a 12-inch section of contact paper that you have taken the backing off of.  Put it on the table sticky side up.  Give the children collage materials and let them make a sticky collage.  These are fun if you add small 3D items such as buttons, bottle caps, feathers, etc. 

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes. AND Creative Arts/Art; gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with sand today.  Add spiders and tongs/pincers and small containers.  The children use the tongs/pincers to dig through the sand and pickup the spiders.  How many spiders did you capture?  Who found the most spiders?  As the children dig for spiders you can review with them spider facts that you have learned.  If you do not have small plastic spiders to add to the table today, you could use of black beans. 

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer. AND Mathematics/Number & Operation; begins too use language to compare numbers of objects with terms such as more, less, greater than, fewer, and equal to.

Library and Writing

Get books or pictures of real spiders that the children can look at.  Notice how all spiders do not look the same however all have 8 legs and 8 eyes.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; progresses in learning how to handle and care for books; knowing to view one [page at a time in sequence from front to back; and understanding that a book has a title, author, and illustrator. AND Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.

Dramatic Play

In the story, Helen was helping to keep the zoo clean by eating all the flies.  Give the children damp paper towels and a broom and allow them to help clean the dramatic center or any center.  Have them wipe the shelves with the damp towels and look for broken toys that should be tossed out.  If you have a non-electrical vacuum (sweeper brush), let the children use it to get the lint off the carpet.  (The children in my room loved using this piece of equipment and I had to finally put it up as a helper job).

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.

Math and Manipulatives

Attach tape to a hula-hoop making a simple web type of design.  Turn the sticky side out and hang it against, or lean it against the wall.  Give the children puff balls (spiders) which they can throw at the hula-hoop target.  Let them count how many spiders stuck to the tape.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; demonstrates increasing abilities to coordinate movements in throwing, climbing, kicking, bouncing balls, and using the slide and swing. AND Mathematics/Number & Operation; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.

Outdoor Play

If you have a large cemented area, draw a giant spider web with chalk.  This does not have to be fancy (see resources).  The children can then move from side to side by hopping or jumping on the triangles.  Or the children can walk the lines forward, backwards, or sliding.  This could also be done inside in your large group area using masking tape.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; shows increasing proficiency, control, and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping,skipping, marching, and galloping.


Play Bigger Than, Smaller Than.  Ask the children to tell you if something is bigger than or smaller than an object or animal. Is a cat bigger than or smaller than a cow?  Is a spider bigger than or smaller than a bead?  Is a cow bigger than or smaller than an Elephant?  Is an Elephant bigger than or smaller than an airplane?  Continue naming two objects and asking if the first is bigger or smaller than the second?

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in series, and grouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.


Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; shows increasing proficiency, control, and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, and galloping.  AND Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multi-step directions.

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.