Spooky Spider Science
Updated: Oct 18
A Note from Amy
I actually drafted this month's post weeks ago, thinking spiders would be a perfect topic for October.
Now it's actually October, and I am watching awful, awful things continue to unfold and escalate in the world and all I really want to do is hug my kids extra long and hard.
That is all true, but it is also true that for my kids, it's still spooky season. Even as they know abstractly that there is war on the other side of the world, they are sheltered and lucky enough that the news doesn't touch them directly. I have so much guilt and gratitude for that.
So we're still going to paint a pumpkin this weekend. And we're still going to buy candy to donate to a local trunk-or-treat event. And I'm going to be grateful that we get to do those things.
With that, I'm still going to share some spider science with you, because sparking curiosity and joy still matters. Even if October feels different this year.
“The next time you see a spider web, please, pause and look a little closer. You’ll be seeing one of the most high-performance materials known to man.”
~ Cheryl Hayashi, biologist and MacArthur fellow
“Let’s all take a moment and be thankful that spiders don’t fly.”
Last month was all about animal traits, so this month I’m focusing on one particular animal - spiders. (They’re not bugs, that’s a different category from animals!)
Spiders in real life? No thank you. Books and videos of amazing spider facts? Yes please! Plus I’ll share a couple fun activities around making your own spiderweb.
(Just a reminder - I am never paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)
from Mystery Science
The answer is - it depends! Also, host Mystery Doug explains why most spiders aren’t really dangerous to humans.
From Wild Kratts on PBS Kids
There’s a reason the Wild Kratts are one of the most popular PBS Kids shows. When the brothers wear their "creature power" suits, it's so much fun to see them use the same abilities as animals!
This episode is all about spider silk - it’s tougher than steel!
Best Spider Moments from BBC Earth
You know BBC Earth gets the most amazing close-up videos of nature in action.
This video might be too intense for younger children or kids who are really pretty scared of insects and spiders. (Also, younger kids might have questions about what “mating” means.)
But for kids who can handle it, there are amazing close-up videos of spiders using their unique traits to attack insects, attack other spiders, and attract mates.
By Bethany Barton
This is a fun interactive book where the narrator tries to convince herself to love spiders, but somehow keeps squishing them, or getting you to squish them for her! Along the way you learn all the cool spider facts that may actually get you appreciating them by the end.
By Ginger Wadsworth, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne
Follow along with one garden spider through its one year lifecycle, starting in an egg sac with hundreds of spiderling siblings, then floating away on a single silk thread to find a new home! My middle kid especially found this book fascinating, even though he’s quite nervous around spiders in real life.
By Annette Whipple
This one is for the kiddos who can't get enough of spider facts and close-up photos. It’s chock full of answers to questions like “Why are spiders so hairy?” and “How do spiders make silk?”
By Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Valeria Tisnés
Learn all about the jumping spider who went to space and back! She proved to scientists that she could adapt her jumps to the zero gravity of space, and then adapt back to gravity once she returned to Earth.
If you like this one, you might also check out “Spidernaut: Arabella, the Spider in Space” by Jodie Parachini, illustrated by Dragan Kordić. (Yes, I too was surprised that there’s more than one “Spidernaut” nonfiction picture book in the world. They aren’t even about the same spider!)
Explore Spider Web Vibrations from Buggy and Buddy
Make your own spider webs out of yarn or string. (Or try both, and see if that effects how the web vibrates!) This example is a bit elaborate, but you could start with a single strand of yarn between two chairs, and then see if the kiddo is interested in weaving something fancier.
By plucking the web with a finger, you can make it vibrate like a trapped bug makes real spiderwebs vibrate. Pluck different parts of the web and see how that changes the vibrations. It’s a physics experiment and life sciences activity rolled into one!
Next month, this life science series will conclude with fun with fungi!
Until next time, have fun lighting sparks of curiosity!
Amy Wung Tsao
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