Monday, September 26, 2011

KWL Chart - Spiders

We finished the map unit before going on vacation, so I've been looking for inspiration about what to do next for Sophie's school.  She had a conversation with a little friend a week ago about tarantulas, and ever since then, has been fascinated with them.  So, I thought, since we did insects last year, I could piggy back on her interest in tarantulas and do a little unit on spiders.  Which is kind of funny, because my friend Stephanie is doing spiders with her daughter right now, too.  What's up with little princesses who are fascinated with bugs??!

A great way to start any unit is by using a KWL chart.  The 'K' stands for 'What I want to Know', the 'W' stands for 'What I Want to know', and the 'L' stands for 'What I Learned'.  This simple activity is great for accessing prior knowledge, and establishing a base upon which to build new information and concepts.  It also gets the child to start asking questions about the topic, and gets those brain juices flowing!  I put a little twist on the KWL chart by turning it into a flip book, because I thought it would be more fun for Sophie than just a basic, 3-column chart.

Lesson:  KWL Chart - Spiders

Objective:  Child will list what she already knows about spiders, and will formulate some questions about them.

Materials:  2 pieces of construction paper.  1 piece of white printer paper.  Glue.  Writing utensil.   Scissors.


1.  Instruct child to glue the white paper to one of the pieces of construction paper.  Set aside.

2.  Draw two lines down the other piece of construction paper, leaving off about 1 inch from the end, thus dividing the paper into three columns.  Instruct child to cut on the lines.  Make sure she doesn't cut through, but stops about an inch from the end.

3.  Have child glue the uncut strip over the white paper, then fold up the three flaps.  Draw lines on the white paper, delineating three columns.

4.  Fold the flaps back down, and write, 'SPIDERS' along the uppermost, glued strip of construction paper.  Write, "What I know" on the first flap, "What I want to know" on the second flap, and "What I learned" on the third flap.

5.  Now comes the fun part!  Lift up the 'What I know' flap.  Ask child what she already knows about spiders.  Write down what she says in this column even if you know it's wrong.  This is about her accessing her own prior knowledge.  As she begins to learn about spiders, you will have the opportunity to correct her misconceptions.  If she is having trouble coming up with things she knows, ask leading questions:  "Do you know any kinds of spiders?"  "Do you know where spiders live?"   Older children can fill out this space on their own, instead of you writing it for them.

6.  Now lift up the 'What I want to know' flap.  Ask child what she wonders about spiders.  What does she want to know about them?  What are some things she is interested in learning about spiders?  Your child may have more trouble with this one, but it's a great way to get her to start thinking about the topic.  Leading questions are also helpful here:  "Do you know what spiders eat?  How would you say that using a question?"  Point out that everything in this column has a question mark at the end, because they are all questions.

7.  Go over your chart one more time, reading each column to your child.  Then put it away, to be pulled out at the end of the unit when you will fill out the last column.  As the teacher, keep in mind the questions your child asked, so that you can be sure to address them as you study together.  


  1. Tarantula eats mouse was a favorite youtube video in our house.