Practice Early Math Skills with The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Practice Early Math Skills with The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
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Purpose and Objectives of the Lesson

These fun math lesson plans use the spider character from the children’s book by Eric Carle to introduce, teach, and reinforce math activities. This lesson is designed for elementary children and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

It targets the following objectives:

  • Teach children the connection between spoken and written numbers.

  • Exercise fine motor skills.

  • Teach foundational math concepts.

  • Encourage prewriting skills.

  • Organize and classify sets.

Following Directions Activity: Count, Add, Color and Write

To prepare the worksheet for this math activity, make one copy of this spider coloring page from Coloring Worksheets and add the following instructions:

  • Count and write the number of spider legs
  • Count and write the number of spider eyes
  • Add the number of legs and number of eyes and write the total
  • Color the spider’s body brown.
  • Color the spider’s legs black.
  • Write and trace the word spider

The word spider and the numbers eight and two should be printed on the worksheet for the children to trace. Make a line for the children to write the total number of eyes and legs.

Make enough copies for each child, and distribute to the children. Guide the children as they complete the worksheets, offering individual assistance as needed.

Classify, Estimate and Compare


After completing the worksheets, have the class sit on the floor. Ask them to predict how many animals will try to distract the spider from weaving her web, and write the estimate on the board. Read the story of The Very Busy Spider, and when the story is finished, go through the story page-by-page and lead the kids in counting the number of animals that tried to get the spider to play with them. Compare the actual number of animals with the prediction, and discuss probability and estimation.


Next, go through the pages of the story again, but this time lead the class in counting and classifying all the small animals (cat, dog, and owl.) Write the number on the board.


Now, count the large animals (horse, cow, sheep, goat, pig) named in the book. Write that number on the board, and then compare the two numbers. Ask the class to determine which number is smaller, and which number is greater. Use simple addition to demonstrate to the class how to add the two numbers to determine the total number of animals. (This total does not include the estimate from the beginning of the exercise.)

Book List for Lesson Extension

Here are some books about spiders to extend the lesson and provide additional information. Use these books to help the children dig deeper and increase their knowledge base.

I Wonder Why Spiders Spin Webs, Amanda O’Neill

Learning About Spiders, Jan Sovak

10 Things You Should Know About Spiders, Steve Parker and Richard Draper

Preparation Goes a Long Way

Fun math lesson plans, like this one for The Very Busy Spider, use repetition to help the kids connect words and numbers. When the students complete the worksheets and verbal exercises, they are practicing test-taking skills for later on.


  • Teaching experience.

This post is part of the series: Lesson Plans for Teachers The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Here is a series of articles supporting teacher lesson plans on the children’s book The Very Busy Spider. This collection of articles includes a lesson plan and literacy building activities.

  1. Teacher Lesson Plans: The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  2. Use The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle to Teach Math Skills
  3. Elementary Art Lesson Plan: Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle