Arthropods at Home: Spider, Isopod, or any Arthropod


spiderMagnify.gif (5K) Grade Level: Second
Health Topic: Environmental Health
Subjects: Health, Science, Language Arts, Nutrition


Time of year: Spring, Fall

Overall Objective: Over a nine day period, students will observe, discuss, and record the requirements of a healthy environment for both arthropods and people by designing and maintaining an artificial habitat for an arthropod, and considering the requirements for a healthy body and environment.

Set-up: Arthropods at Home

Teacher Preparation:

  1. Check the area around the school before the field trip for good areas to find arthropods. Avoid areas with poisonous plants, venomous animals and treacherous terrain (for Activity 2). If the area around the school is not appropriate for a field trip, ask the students to bring in arthropods from home. The students may wish to observe more than one insect. Plan and anticipate high student interest.
  2. Obtain terrarium or other container that will house an arthropod several days before lesson begins. Identify and prepare a place in the classroom for the insects to live. Avoid areas with direct sun, air vents or cold drafts.
  3. Prepare copies of “Arthropod Homes” activity sheet (Activity 1).
  4. Gather materials for specific arthropod or ask students to bring items to class (Activities 4 and 5).
  5. Two discussions are recorded on butcher paper (Introduction and Activity 4).
  6. Prepare bulletin board space or other wall space for displaying charts throughout the lesson.
  7. Gather remaining materials and books (see Bibliography).


  1. Artificial habitat supplies (refer to specific Information Sheets)
  2. Butcher paper and markers
  3. Individual student journals
  4. Mary Ann Hoberman, A House is a House for Me; Faith McNulty, The Lady and the Spider.
  5. Any supporting fiction and non-fiction literature that may not be suggested in the bibliography.
  6. Web site reference sheets:

Lesson Plan: Arthropods at Home

Length of sessions:

  • Four 30 minute sessions
  • Three 30 - 45 minute sessions
  • One 45 - 60 minute session

Introduction Activity (45 minute session)
Read A House Is A House For Me by Mary Ann Hoberman. Discuss the various types of homes the students live in and other homes they know about (apartment, trailer, etc.). How are they similar to the homes in the story? How are they different? What do all the homes have in common? Then explain what arthropods are. Discuss what types of homes arthropods might live in and how we could find out some of them (see Information Sheets). Teacher records on butcher paper. Have the students write and draw in their journals how they feel about arthropods.

Activity 1 (30 minute session)
Discuss ground rules about safety, arthropod respect, and respect for the environment. Let the students know they're going to visit someone else's home on the field trip. Give students copies of Arthropod Homes Sheet and read through it with them answering any questions they may have about what information to collect and where to record it.

Activity 2 (45 minute session)
Review the ground rules and use of the arthropod homes sheet. Team up and take a field trip on school grounds. Look for arthropod homes. Record information (see Finding Arthropods sheet). Have the students write or draw in journals about the arthropods they saw and share what they wrote.

Activity 3 (30 minute session)
After the field trip, record on a chart, the arthropods the students found and other information they gathered during their observations. From the discussion and information, choose one arthropod to be temporarily kept in the classroom in an artificial habitat that simulates its natural home.

Activity 4 (30 minute session)
Brainstorm the materials and environment needed to design and maintain a habitat. Teacher records on butcher paper (see Arthropod Information Sheet). Use the chart from Activity 3 and the student's Arthropod Homes sheets to make a list of the kinds of things your arthropod needs from its environment to survive and be healthy. What do both people and arthropods need to survive and be healthy? Teacher records on butcher paper.

Activity 5 (45 minute session)
Review habitat needs from Activities 3 and 4. Create an artificial home with water and food sources. (See information sheet.) Collect the arthropod and introduce it into its new home. Place an observation record sheet nearby with pencils or use individual student journals. Have students record observations of what they see the arthropod doing daily for one week. Have the students draw a fantasy home in which they would like to live. Make sure the students include as many of the survival and healthy elements brainstormed by the class as possible. Tell them it can be any thing they want it to be because it's make-believe.

Closure Activity (30 minute session)
At the end of the week, report observations and discuss results. What was absolutely necessary for the arthropod to survive? What is absolutely necessary for people to survive? Did we provide a good habitat for the arthropod? Read The Lady and The Spider by Faith McNulty. Discuss how they feel about the arthropods that are part of their lives now. Carefully return the arthropod to its natural home. Write and/or draw in journals about their experience with the arthropod and if they feel differently now than before.

Extensions (Can be used as Cross curricular centers)

  1. Using information gathered, create a verse to "Home On The Range".
  2. Re-read House is a House For Me. Make up a verse. Create a class book of verses using same patterning.
  3. Discuss where our food comes from, i.e., bacon from a pig, orange juice from the fruit of orange trees, etc. (could be integrated into a nutrition unit).
  4. Teacher could read James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
  5. Make an insect as an art project (use egg cartons, clay, paper, pipe cleaners, etc.)
  6. Visit the library and find arthropod books.
  7. Assign a research report with a drawing about a specific arthropod. 8. Brainstorm with the students what questions they will answer in their reports. Combine the reports into a class book.
  8. Use maps and books to find out where arthropods are found around the country.
  9. Call your local Entomology department, museum or cooperative extensions office and schedule a visit from an entomologist.
  10. Have the students check the local newspaper with their parents looking for information on arthropods.

Words with Special Meanings (for understanding only, not to be tested)


any of a major group of segmented invertebrates having jointed legs and an exoskeleton, including insects, spiders, crustaceans, etc.


(1) produced by humans. (2) made in imitation.

Environmental Health:

the study of the relationship between our environment and our health.


the natural environment or place where a person or animal is found (food, water, shelter, space in a specific arrangement).


(hypotheses, plural): a tentative explanation for a question that can be tested using experimentation.


to look at and pay special attention to what something does, what it looks like, and how it changes.


to guess what you believe will happen.


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Arneson, D.J. Incredible Insects - Nature Fact Book Series. Kidsbooks, Inc., 1990

Arnett Jr., Ross H. and Richard L. Jacques, Jr. Simon and Schuster's Guide to Insects. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981

Braus, Judy, et al. Incredible Insects. Washington DC: Naturescope Series; National Wildlife Federation, 1984

Carle, Eric. A Very Busy Spider. New York: Philomel Books, 1984

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Conklin, Gladys. When Insects are Babies. New York: Holiday House, 1969

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Hoberman, Mary Ann. A House is a House for Me. New York: The Viking Press, 1978

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Hornblow, Leonora and Arthur. Insects do the Strangest Things. New York: Random House, 1968

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Wonder Books. Insects. Los Angeles: Wonder-Treasure Books, 1960


Arthropod Homes Sheet

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