Spring has sprung.
April showers bring May flowers.
And all that other fun stuff!
Need some fresh fun activities for your kids? Want to teach your kids something while doing crafts? This activity does both!
This type of activity takes me back to when I was a kid. I always loved making silly little things with pom poms, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. I also fondly remember making spider webs using a hot glue gun. While I don't have kids of my own, I volunteer at a children's museum that has a variety craft activities for kids and is always looking for new ones that teach some sort of lesson.
Here I'll show you how to make a spider habitat with pom pom and pipe cleaner spiders with a hot glue/glitter web.
During each step, I'll give some lessons that you might teach your kids as you build your habitats. Many kids think spiders are icky, but they should also know that spiders are very important to nature and to humans!
Step 1: Materials and Craft Area
For this activity, you'll need:
- Thin pipe cleaners
- 1/4" pom poms
- The smallest of googly eyes (not pictured)
- Craft spoons or popsicle sticks
- Fine glitter
- Decoration materials such as markers, paint, or fake flowers
- Wax paper
- Suction cups or magnets
- Hot glue gun
Each step will go over what you'll need within.
As you can see, my work station is very advanced - composed of an overturned cardboard box made to carry plants on my livingroom floor.
Your workstation will probably be better - perhaps a kitchen or dining table. Cover the crafting area with wax paper. This should mitigate the spread of glitter! Also, close your windows.
Disclaimer: This activity involves a lot of hot glue gun use!!! If doing this activity with children, do all the hot gluing for them. Older children capable of using a hot glue gun should do so under adult supervision.
Step 2: Spiders! (and Prey)
Disclaimer: These spiders and insects require using the hot glue gun near fingers. It might be a good idea for an adult to do this step to avoid any burns.
Oh my these spiders are soooooo cute!
Ok, what you need for the spiders are:
- pom poms
- pipe cleaners
- googly eyes
- hot glue gun
I chose the color variety pack of pom poms and pipe cleaners because spiders come in all different colors - not just black! Plus, this is supposed to be a fun activity where kids can make their own spiders in whatever colors they choose.
Start the legs by cutting a 5.5 inch piece of pipe cleaner. Bend in half and make another cut. Then, take each and make an "M". Cut the middle again. You should end up with 4 V-shaped pieces, so 2 V-shaped pieces on each side of the pom pom. You could change this a bit so the spider has fewer legs, but I'm a sucker for biological accuracy even on pom pom spiders.
Glue the pipe cleaner legs to the pom pom. Once dry, bend each leg.
So I originally wasn't going to put eyes on my spiders, but I made them and something just....wasn't right.
Plus, if I ever second guess the use of googly-eyes, I should probably get a psychiatric evaluation. I'll be using teeny-tiny googly eyes for my teeny-tiny spiders.
Put them eyeball up and place your finger on it. It should stick to your finger, but if it doesn't lick your finger or put on some lotion. Place a tiny spot of glue on the pom pom spider and then press the eye on.
Honestly I would have stuck 8 eyes on each spider but there just wasn't room, so I apologize for the lack of biological accuracy in this area.
Insects (Spider prey)
These spiders are CLEARLY voracious predators, so let's make some little web-covered insects.
Your insects will be made in the same basic way as the spiders, only with 3 legs (remember, biological accuracy). Just cut 3 equal pieces of pipe cleaner and hold them in the middle. Bend the first piece upward on either side and the last piece downward on either side. Leave the middle piece straight. Glue down the center of the legs and place the pom pom.
Start gluing on one side of the insect's body and let the glue stream over to the other side. Do this back and forth until you're satisfied with the amount of web around the bug's body.
Glue the googly eyes on to the insect in a good place, even if it's already covered by web glue.
Honestly I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading and are totally happy just making some cute little spiders. But if you want to keep reading, I'll also show you how to make their sparkly spider webs.
Lesson: Spiders are called Arachnids and come in many colors and sizes! They have 8 legs (how many do insects have?). Many spiders eat insects, but some will also eat plant material or scavenge for dead material. Spiders are very important to keeping insect populations under control - without them, we would have a lot more annoying flying insects!
Step 3: Spider Webs
I remember making hot glue spider webs when I was a kid. I don't know if this is still a thing, but that's what these spiders live in. Only they sparkle.
The frame for the web is made with wooden popsicle sticks or spoons. Simply glue those together to make a square.
On a smooth surface or surface covered with wax paper, place the frame down and pour some glitter in the center. Shape it to fill the inside of the square.
With the glue gun on a low heat setting, start a dab on one side of the frame and release a steady, thin stream of glue until ending on the opposite side of the frame. Repeat this step with all of the glue meeting at a point in the frame.
Next, start a dab of glue somewhere on the frame and release glue in a circular pattern from outside in.
All the glue should have settled into the glitter and the web and frame should be easily lifted. If there are big globs of glue that stuck to the surface, you might need to use something as a spatula to unstick it.
I made a few of these webs and I know it's harder than it looks, at least with a basic glue gun. I had a hard time getting a steady stream of glue and ended up with thin web and thick web. Oh well, at least it sparkles!
Lesson: Most spiders build webs, but there are many different types of webs. Why do spiders build webs? How do they build them? What makes insects stick to them? How do spiders know when something sticks in their web? Spider web silk is one of the strongest known natural materials and has inspired many human-made materials. What can you think of that was inspired by spider silk?
Step 4: Decorations and Hanger
Decorations really aren't needed, but add a little something-something.
The decorations I chose include fake flowers and leaves and markers.
Of course, kids have no problem decorating things. I made a couple - one with ferns and flowers and one just decorated with markers. I recommend using small flowers or leaves if you go that route because anything too big can make it hard to see the web.
For the hanger, just cut some string and glue the ends to 2 corners.
Lesson: Spiders build webs in many places. Some build them in plants, some build them in holes in the ground, some build them in the corner of your ceiling...Why do they build them where they do?
Step 5: Finish and Hang!
Now all that's left is to glue your spider and it's prey on to the web.
Choose some places to attach your cute little guys and glue.
I chose to glue my spider in a corner and the insect on the inside of the web.
Once done, hang your little spider habitat somewhere opposite the sun, that way the light will catch the glitter. I hung mine on the fridge!
I hope you and your kids enjoyed making these fun springtime spider habitat crafts!
Feel free to use this as an opportunity to teach kids that spiders don't have to be scary. Teach them about spiders and their importance in nature - how they control insect populations and are a good food source for birds and lizards. If we didn't have spiders, we wouldn't have everything their silk has inspired, nor would we have many disease treatments that come from spider venom!