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A Teacher's Guide


The Tarantula Scientist

Picture a Tarantula

GRADE LEVEL: 4th–8th

OBJECTIVE: The student will listen to a description of a Goliath birdeater tarantula from The Tarantula Scientist and the student will create a picture from the description.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity is to build observation skills.

MATERIALS NEEDED:
The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery
• Construction paper
• Colors, markers, or other art supplies

TIME: 45–55 minutes

PROCEDURE:
• Begin reading the book The Tarantula Scientist, careful not to show any of the pictures. Read to page 8.

• Stop at the end of page 8, and ask students what they know about how the Goliath birdeater tarantula looks. You may want to put this information on the board. Some characteristics students may come up with at this point:
    • Hairy legs
    • Big (“cover your whole face” or “weigh as much as five mice”)
    • Two feet or pedipalps next to the front of its head
    • Eight walking feet
    • Two claws on each leg or tarsi
    • Seven segments to each of the eight legs
    • Legs covered with hair
    • Hair is long
    • Hair is reddish brown
• Read page 9 (still careful not to show any of the pictures).

• Tell students to think about the characteristics and then draw a life-sized picture of a Goliath birdeater tarantula. Tell students they can change their pictures as you read and as they learn more about tarantulas.

• Allow students to work on their pictures while you continue reading through page 15.

• Go back and show students the pictures from the beginning of the book, have them compare their pictures to the picture of the Goliath birdeater tarantula on pages 8 and 9.

• Point out some of the specific characteristics mentioned in the text; compare these to the pictures the students created and the ones in the book. Explain the importance of detail while doing scientific research, or ask the students why they think it is important. This could be a very good opportunity for a class discussion that you can direct toward good experimental procedures.

Note: The pictures would make a great hall display or classroom decorations! Finish reading The Tarantula Scientist to your students, and check out all the other great activities that you can use with this book!


Class Information, from "Classify, Classify, Classify"

 
VERTEBRATES
INVERTEBRATES
ARACHNIDS
THERAPHOSIDAE

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

_______ 30

_______ 33

_______ 36

_______ 105

_______ 104

_______ 107

_______ 100

_______ 101

_______ 102

_______ 100

_______ 100

_______ 93

Let's Classify!

1. What is an invertebrate?
2. What is a vertebrate?
3. What is the largest category used to sort living things? Look in The Tarantula Scientist. Skip pages 23 and 47.
4. How many vertebrates are there in the book?
5. How many invertebrates are there in the book?
6. How many arachnids are there in the book?
7. How many Theraphosidae are there in the book?
8. Make a chart to organize your data.
9. Make a graph that represents your data.


Creature Search

OBJECTIVE: This is an activity that combines science, writing, and reading. Students will be given a topic from The Tarantula Scientist to research. They will then do a written and oral report. As an added bonus students will be learning about many fascinating plants and animals that live in the jungles and rainforests that are rapidly being destroyed.


Spider Crossword Puzzle

GRADE LEVEL: 4th–8th

OBJECTIVE: The student will complete the crossword puzzle after reading The Tarantula Scientist.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity is to build vocabulary.

MATERIALS NEEDED:
The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery
• Copies of the Spiders! crossword puzzle and clues

TIME: 30 minutes (to work the puzzle . . . longer to read book cover to cover)

PROCEDURE:
• Read the book The Tarantula Scientist.
• Let the students work the puzzle.

This can be done in cooperative groups.
This could also be used as an Internet scavenger hunt.


DOWN:
ACROSS:
1. THE FOOD-HANDLING LEGS AT THE FRONT OF THE SPIDER’S HEAD

2. A PERSON WHO UNREASONABLY FEARS ARACHNIDS, ESPECIALLY SPIDERS

3. BREATHING TUBES THAT LEAD FROM THE OUTSIDE OF THE SPIDER DEEP INTO THE BODY. MOST MODERN SPIDERS HAVE THEM, BUT NOT TARANTULAS

4. THE WAY SPIDERS USE SILK TO RIDE THE WIND TO A NEW LOCATION. BABY SPIDERS OFTEN USE THIS METHOD TO LEAVE THE NEST

5. THE NOZZLELIKE DISPENSERS OF SPIDER SILK ON THE BACK OF THE ABDOMEN

8. ANOTHER NAME FOR TROPICAL TARANTULAS

6. THE SPIDER FAMILY TO WHICH TARANTULAS BELONG

10. THE MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF ANIMALS ON EARTH WHO DON'T HAVE INTERNAL SKELETONS

7. SPIDERS AND THEIR EIGHT–LEGGED RELATIVES

11. THE TWO CLAWS AT THE END OF SPIDERS’ WALKING FEET

9. THE BULBLIKE STRUCTURE ON THE LAST JOINT OF THE PEDIPALPS IN MALE SPIDERS, WHICH HE USES TO TRANSFER HIS SPERM TO THE FEMALE SPIDER

15. THE ACT OF MAKING SOUND BY RUBBING ONE BODY PART AGAINST ANOTHER

12. THE OLD-FASHIONED BREATHING ORGANS THAT TARANTULAS HAVE

16. THE SPIDER’S HEAD, CONTAINING (ALONG WITH OTHER THINGS) THE SUCKING STOMACH

13. A PERSON WHO APPRECIATES ARACHNIDS

17. SPIDER BLOOD, WHICH IS NEVER RED, BUT MIGHT BE CLEAR OR LIGHT BLUE

14. THE SENSE ORGANS ON SPIDERS’ LEGS THAT PERMIT THEM TO TELL, FROM VERY FAINT VIBRATIONS, THE SIZE OF AN APPROACHING CRITTER, BE IT A CRICKET IN THE LEAF LITTER OR A PERSON ENTERING THE DOOR OF THE LABORATORY ACROSS THE ROOM

18. THE EXTERNAL SKELETON OF INVERTEBRATES

19. THE STRONG, LIGHT, WATERPROOF MATERIAL THAT COMPOSES THE EXTERNAL SKELETONS OF INVERTEBRATES FROM SHRIMP TO SPIDERS—AND EVEN THE HAIRS ON TARANTULAS

20. BABY SPIDERS, OFTEN QUITE DIFFERENT IN COLOR FROM THE ADULTS

21. THE SILKEN PURSE THE MOTHER SPIDER WEAVES TO HOLD HER EGGS. SOMETIMES SHE CARRIES THIS AROUND IN HER MOUTH
22. A SCIENTIST WHO STUDIES ARACHNIDS

 
23. THE SPIDER’S TWO-PART JAW, THE LAST SEGMENT OF WHICH ENDS IN A FANG








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