Be Nice to Spiders Story Exploration

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Be Nice to Spiders Story Exploration

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which will give me a small portion of proceeds. Today’s book is Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham. My son Dominic, age 3, and I did these activities.

Discussion Points/Theme

Be Nice to Spiders focuses on a spider named Helen. Left at a zoo when her owner moves, Helen makes the animals very happy by eating all the flies that are bothering them in their habitats. However, when the mayor schedules a visit, the zookeeper makes the maintenance workers clean up all the spider webs. The animals grow unhappy again as the flies return. Eventually the zookeeper realizes that the spiders were very useful, he allows them back in, and their zoo becomes an award-winning zoo. This would be a great book to discuss how everything/everyone is useful and has a purpose, even if you think they are a nuisance/ugly/an eyesore/frightening/useless/etc. If you want to get really fancy with it, you could discuss symbiotic relationships, as both the animals and Helen benefit from this relationship.


Now I will say, if you are really brave, it would be great to observe real live spiders in action! We have a bug catcher, but I am more than a little freaked out by live arachnids (and insects), so no holding and examining live spiders until Dom is old enough to do all the touching himself. I feel that’s reasonable.

In the meantime, I still wanted to involve science somehow. So we watched a bunch of videos about spiders! Many of these videos touch on the difference between arachnids and insects and this could be a great point to emphasize!

This next video is best for older kids who know how to read already. It has a bunch of facts but you have to read them.


We have a set of bug counters that I bought at a consignment sale. (They are very similar to these.) This set includes both spiders and flies/bees (they look like both), so I felt I could definitely go with this book. We used them to practice simple addition and subtraction. Example: “If the red spider eats two flies, how many flies are left?” You could easily do this with pictures or spiders and flies as well for the visual, or, of course, just talk it through.

Using counting bugs


There is a page in Be Nice to Spiders that describes exactly how Helen builds her web. I thought it would be great if we could follow the instructions in painting our own webs. So we read the instructions one by one and followed them. This was perhaps a little above Dominic’s skill level, but he totally enjoyed it nevertheless and he was very proud as he talked about his web. He enjoyed it so much he wanted to do it twice. When the paint is dry, you have the option of painting on or using stickers or markers or sequins or any other medium you like to add some spiders.

Painting spider webs following the instructions Helen used to spin her web.


Of course for a book involving spiders, we definitely sang The Itsy Bitsy Spider complete with hand motions.


I had this creative idea to create a snack involving string cheese for the web and raisins as flies caught in the web. I basically took the string cheese and separated it and then used those strands to create a web, then added the raisins on top.

Spider web made out of string cheese and raisins Field Trip

If you have a zoo or other place that has an insect collection, it would be great to go look at some real spiders!

Movie/Tv Tie Ins

Of course there is the famous Charlotte’s Web. Guess with Jess Season 1 Episode 5 is “Why Do Spiders Build Webs?” Sesame Street: Animals and Nature Collection (available on Netflix) episode 5 is “Where Is Itsy Bitsy Spider?” Wild Kratts Season 2 Episode 8 is “Secrets of the Spider’s Web”

Have you ever read Be Nice to SpidersLet me know what you think of these activities if you try them out. And let me know if you have any other fun spider activities! 

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