All week long we are celebrating STEAM. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. We will be doing activities that are going to excite the little inventor in your house. This project is the beginning of Halloween decorations for the house. My kids have really enjoyed the 4th of July and Birthday Party projects. This time we are going to harness a little of the creepy factor and combine it with STEAM to make a spider with light up eyes on a web. Today’s focus is spider webs. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure here.
Spiders and Spider Webs
Today we are focusing on the first step, which is the web. Most people think of spiders as creepy. Maybe they are, but they are amazing engineers. Not all spiders build webs, but the ones that do are engineering the tools to help them capture prey, protect their homes, hold their egg cases, and move around. Did anyone besides me just think about Charlotte’s Web?
Spiders build webs that will transfer movement across the web (so that the spider can be alerted when prey enters the web), but that doesn’t fall just because one part of the web is disturbed. Spider are the consummate conservationists because in order to rebuild they can consume the broken part of webs and recycle the silk to rebuild. Spiders that spin webs use silk. These spiders make two types of silk. They make a sticky silk which helps in capturing prey and a non-sticky silk which helps to reinforce the structure. There are also different basic web structures: orb webs, funnel webs, and irregular webs. You can find out more information about spiders here. For our project, we are going to make an orb web.
- school glue
- wax paper
- template or paper/pencil/ ruler
- shallow bowl or plate
This is inspired from the tutorial I found at SheKNOWS. I modified it for my needs. This is a great art activity that activates the senses while still being able to talk about the spider and its web.
The first step was to make a template. I wanted to make an entire spider web.
Creating the Template:
- I gave the kids a piece of paper (in our case a square), a ruler, and a pencil. We started by drawing a straight line down the center dividing the paper in half. A quick way to find the half mark is to just fold the paper in half and then open it back up. This paper is just a template so it doesn’t matter if it is a little wrinkled. You will draw a vertical line and horizontal line. This will result in a a cross in the middle of the paper.
- The next step is to add to the web. We are creating an orb web like you see above. These webs have vertical spokes and then horizontal webbing for strength. You an make as many spokes as you want. I would say that you don’t want them to be more than 4 inches are so apart at the widest point. This will help make it more stable.
- After all the straight lines were drawn, I had my kids use a small object to draw a circle in the middle (but you could eyeball that part). We erased the center and started drawing in our horizontal sections of web. I highly encourage you to let the kids have fun and create their own web. They will naturally comment on the fact that webs are not all identical AND it will keep competition down about who has the best one.
Creating the Yarn Web:
- Once the web template is ready, you need wax paper, glue, yarn and I suggest tape. I suggest a colored tape, but you can use what you ha
- Lay the template down. Put the wax paper over it and tape the wax paper over the template onto the surface. This will keep the wax paper from moving and help your kids not get so frustrated. This step is especially important if you have a perfectionist.
- During this phase (before the glue comes out), I suggest have the kids (or you) cut the yarn. Cut it about 20-35% shorter than the template because the glue will make the yarn stretch. How much yarn you will need depends on the template. I would cut a little extra now.
- Now we are ready to get messy. This activity is heavy sensory. I had a kiddo with sensory issues. He is interesting because while he is typically sensory seeking he HATES getting his hands dirty. This is a good one for him to build his endurance. He wound up loving it. Give each child a container of glue. I think a small bowl works best. Put enough glue in the bowl so that it will completely cover the yarn.
- They will submerge the yarn in the glue. Take it out and run two finger gently down the glue taking off the excess. Then lay it on the wax paper following the template. I think it goes better to do the straight lines first. This lays the foundation for the horizontal pieces. Then lay in the yarn that is the horizontal webbing. Remember to overlap the pieces.
We did this on a gorgeous day and put them outside to dry in the sun. They were completely dry in about 4 hours. I would definitely let them dry 8-12 hours or overnight. Once they are dry, gently peel them from the wax paper. You will have your own spider web.
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Next we will be tackling the spiders with light up eyes. That project is inspired from an activity in STEAM Kids.
Are you ready to tackle more STEAM projects? I will be featuring STEAM all week. #STEAMKids