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  • Writer's pictureAmy Wung Tsao

Spooky Spider Science

Updated: Jan 21

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.


Spider Science!

“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.”

~ Unknown

Close-up of a jumping spider standing on a dewy surface, against a black background. The spider has furry legs black and brown legs and 4 shining dark green eyes rimmed with orange facing the camera.
Credit: Hans-Егор Камелев on UnSplash

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.



Cover illustration of a brown spider with four eyes and a furry, round body, sitting on top of a black spiderweb. Dangling from one leg is a red heart tied up in thin black spiderweb loops. The title “I’m Trying to Love Spiders” written in slightly messy handwriting appears between the lines of the spider web. A small sign in red font in the corner says “Chock full of amazing arachnid facts!” The background is a watercolor splash of blue or brown. “A Children’s Choice Book Award Winner” is on the bottom.

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.

Cover illustration of a light brown garden spider floating up above a farm landscape, pulled up by one long silk thread coming up from its bottom.

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.

Cover photo of a spider’s eyes. There are 4 eyes - 2 large ones in the middle and 2 smaller ones on each side. The eyes all have a dark brown/black inner circle, surrounded by various shades of blue. The eyes are surrounded by green fur.

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?” 

Cover illustration of a red, black, and green spider. There’s a medal reading “Outstanding Science Trade Book”.

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!)



Two young kids: a younger brother preschool age in a green and blue superhero outfit with a book logo on his chest, and an older sister in a Wonder Woman costume. Both kids are standing on opposite sides of a spiderweb made from black yarn tied between two chair backs, with a small spider crafted out of pom poms and paper.

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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