Tarantulas are huge, hairy, and terrifying! Learn more about this colorful, mysterious arthropod before you design your own colorful, eight-legged creature.
1. Tarantulas live in burrows in dry deserts or humid rainforests. They use their silk to line their nests or cover their burrow openings to guard against intruders. They also spin silk drag lines to use as trip wires, letting them know when an enemy or prey is near.
2. A tarantula’s main prey is insects, but they sometimes feed on tiny rodents or even baby birds. They stalk their prey, slowly creep up close enough to leap, and then stick their large fangs into the victim. Their hollow fangs pump poison, which soon liquefies the prey’s insides. The tarantula then consumes its liquid meal. Yum!
3. Tarantulas are the biggest spiders. Some are as tiny as a fingernail, but others may grow to be as big as a dinner plate! If frightened, the hairs on their bodies will stick into an enemy and cause terrible itching. In addition to scientific names, these members of the spider family are given common names, which often designate their homes and describe their many beautiful colors. Brazilian yellow-banded, Mexican bloodleg, Costa Rican zebra, desert blond, and Peruvian pinktoe are just a few examples. Find out more about these fascinating spiders, and then create your own unique version of this amazing creature!
4. Fold construction paper in half. Use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to sketch the large head and even larger thorax (body) of your spider. Cut out your sketches with Crayola Scissors. You will have two identical shapes of each piece, one each for the top and bottom. Use Crayola Twistables to create a vividly colored head and body. Color all four pieces. Try contrasting stripes, dots, plaid, zigzags, or any design for your new species.
5. Draw, color, and cut out two fangs, and two sets of four eyes on stalks. Use Crayola School Glue to attach the fangs to the front underside of the head. Bend the eye stalks. Glue the eyes standing upright to the top of the head. Air-dry the glue.
6. To make legs, wind two different colors of chenille sticks together. Make eight legs. Bend the feet and "knees." Color long thin strips of paper. Cut into rectangles. Wrap and glue rectangles as elbows and ankles onto the legs of your tarantula. Air-dry the rectangles.
7. Apply glue around the edges of the body pieces, leaving a space open for stuffing. Slide two pairs of legs between the glued areas on each side of the head and thorax. Air-dry the glue thoroughly.
8. Carefully stuff tissue paper scraps into the tarantula’s head and body to create rounded shapes. Glue the opening closed. Air-dry the glue.
9. Label your tarantula with a colorful, descriptive name.
Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.
Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.
- Compare and contrast spiders, including tarantulas, with insects. Use Venn diagrams to demonstrate likenesses and differences between spiders (tarantulas) and insects.
- The name tarantula is derived from spiders that live around the town of Taranto, Spain. The people of this town believed that if a tarantula bit them, they would die unless the bite was treated quickly. The treatment involved whirling and jumping around in a dance called the Tarantella. Exhausted dancers eventually collapsed on the ground, but the locals believed this was the only cure. A tarantula bite is not fatal. Unless they are allergic to the venom, most humans will find a bite similar to a bee sting. Listen to the music of the Tarantella and collaborate with others to create your own dance.
- Develop math problems using tarantulas as subjects. With eight legs (arranged in pairs), two fangs, eight eyes, and two body parts, spiders present many possibilites for challenging problem solving. Publish the problems in a class book entitled Tarantula Totals.
- Assessment: Expect children to create detailed, brightly colored spiders that will stand up. Look for an accurate number of body parts and creative naming.