Backyard Spider, Anna Ream 2012

A month ago a friend of mine shared the following poem on her blog.

by Kay Ryan

From other
angles the
fibers look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
delicate to live.

I love the comparison to life in the final phrase.  The poem has wandered through my thoughts often since reading it and inspired an art lesson for my daughter’s first grade class this month. On a walk one morning thoughts of the poem led me to ponder spider webs in general. In particular, how from some angles they are invisible, but shifting your angle can bring it into view. I wondered if there was a way to capture that quality in an art lesson. The following project developed from those thoughts and some subsequent experiments with my daughters. I taught the lesson last week, starting it out with a reading of the book Dream Weaver by Jonathan London. It’s a children’s story about a boy who takes an imaginary trip into a spider’s world.  The illustrations are beautiful.

The lesson was great fun. Try it out with your kids this week for a Halloween project, or on your own just for fun.

Transparency film
Elmer’s glue
Fine glitter (Martha Stewart makes one that can be found at Michaels)
Copy paper, pencil, Sharpie marker, masking tape


Use masking tape to hinge the transparency film to a piece of copy paper.


Open and lay it out. Draw a spider in pencil on the paper. I displayed two pictures of spiders as visual examples for the kids to use.


Lay the transparency film over the copy paper and trace over it with sharpie marker onto the transparency film.


Uncover the copy paper, turn both over, and lay open. On the other side of the copy paper design the spider web in pencil. I suggested the kids choose a center, draw 7-9 lines out from there, and then starting in the middle spiral outwards leaving at least a pinky width between the lines.


Once the web is drawn, fold the transparency film onto the copy paper and trace over the pencil lines with Elmer’s glue.


Carefully remove copy paper and masking tape.  Sprinkle with fine glitter and lay flat to dry.


Here are some samples of the children’s work.  Be sure to click on an image and scroll through the gallery to see the full versions.

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