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Spooky Spider Project for Elementary Students

Updated on October 31, 2012
Chalk pastels spiders done by 5th graders
Chalk pastels spiders done by 5th graders | Source
1st grade spiders, made with crayon and tempera paint
1st grade spiders, made with crayon and tempera paint | Source
4th grade spiders made with chalk pastels and tempera paint
4th grade spiders made with chalk pastels and tempera paint | Source
Close up of 4th grade spiders
Close up of 4th grade spiders | Source
Close up of 4th grade spiders
Close up of 4th grade spiders | Source

At my school, the students only have art on Wednesdays, and this year that day also happened to be Halloween. I knew they would be super excited about the holiday and wanted them to have fun creating a spooky (but not too spooky) and personalized Halloween scene. They had so much fun creating these surprisingly colorful, mixed-media spider projects.

We first reviewed the lesson we had done earlier in the year on "balance", a design principle. I reminded them of the differences between symmetrical and asymmetrical design. I asked them to think about the placement of the spider on the paper and which type of balance it would be. I drew a very simple, two-sectioned spider with no legs on the chalkboard for them to reference and showed them how to make a web using X's and a spiral line. I told them to leave the legs off of the spider, their fingers printed in black tempera paint would create the legs.

Once the students had drawn their scene, including the spider with no legs, I helped them paint their four fingers and place them in the right spot for their spider on the paper. The students formed a line to print their legs since I could only help one student do this at a time. They were amazed at how well their fingers worked for the legs of the spider. We also had great discussions about costumes while making these, so it was a very fun day in art class!


  1. The youngest grade students used crayons, markers and tempera paints in their pictures. The 4th and 5th graders used chalk pastels and tempera paint, some also used crayons to draw the picture with and then added the pastels. I told the kids not to put legs on the spiders since their own fingers would be the legs. They all thought that was cool!
  2. I had the students complete their pictures before coming to a different area of the room to get their fingers painted. I set up the painting station at a different table than where they drew the pictures as I did not want the papers to get wet.
  3. The students lined up for me to paint their fingers. I only did one set of the four fingers on one hand to help keep the mess down. I painted the underside of their fingers and pressed them down on the paper to form the legs of the spider. If the legs did not touch the body, they could make the body bigger or just connect it with a little more paint. They then put their papers on the drying rack. A few kids went in and worked the spooky scene a little more after the fingers/legs had dried.
  4. Once we had printed their fingers, the students went down the hall to wash. Tempera paint is wonderful for use with grade school students. It cleans up very easily with soap and water. The messiest part of this project is the chalk pastels, which is why I only had the upper grades use it in this project. Chalk pastels do make beautiful full color pieces. I have used them once before with all grade levels, and I will used them with the younger students when I find the right project, they really do make quite a mess though.
  5. I hung the projects up around the room when they dried throughout the day. This really is a great Halloween project!
Some more of the 5th graders' spiders
Some more of the 5th graders' spiders | Source

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