Are you looking to hold a scary Halloween party without a lot of gory stuff, and maybe even not much emphasis on Halloween? Host a Spider Party! I’m not a huge fan of arachnids, but like all of nature’s creatures, they have their place. Plus, I enjoy learning about the natural world and sharing that knowledge with others. My boys were in pre-K when I hosted a spider party did this, but the concept will work for elementary school classroom, as part of a homeschool unit study or with scouting groups.
How to Host a Spider Party
I had a few spider books on hand for kids and parents to peruse. Given the age of my crowd, we likely read one as a group, maybe even my old copy of my life-changing childhood favorite, Be Nice to Spiders (affiliate link; you can still find old copies!). If the adults need reasons why we should be nice to spiders, check out this Washington Post article.
At the spider party we made a spider snack. As I recall, it was an Oreo base with four small pieces of string licorice sticking out of the cream filling on both sides. I can’t recall how we handled the snack spider’s eight eyes. These deviled spider eggs would make for a healthier, and frankly creepier, snack.
In my two eyes, the highlight of the party was our activities. In particular, Spidey Senses and the Spider Egg Hunt were big hits.
You need a blindfold (a bandana is fine) and a long rope such as a jump rope or length of laundry line, to serve as a length of giant spider silk that makes up a web.
Explain that when a breeze passes through a spider web, it will sway gentle with the moving air. However, when prey, like a small fly, lands on the web, it will get stuck. on its tacky surface. As it wiggles around in an attempt to free itself, it creates quite a commotion! This erratic movement summons the spider to her next meal.
Put the blindfold on the child and hand her one end of the rope, explaining that she is going to use her Spidey Sense to determine if a fly has landed in her web. You hold the other end of the rope and can gently sway the rope as a breeze does, or shake it wildly like a fly fighting for its life. Can the child correctly use her Spidey Sense to translate the message you send with the rope?
This activity has a real-life application. If you spot a spider in her web, you can use this knowledge to summon her. This is as close as I get to teaching you how to train a dragon. I did this the other night as you can see in the video below. I found a thin, but sturdy blade of grass and “tickled” the web with it to mimic a struggling fly. It worked! Click on the photo to watch it play out.
Spider Egg Hunt
You may recall that spiders lay a giant egg sac that contains hundred of tiny babies. You can replicate this by paper mache-ing an inflated balloon. After the paper mache dries, pop the balloon and fill the empty sphere it with those small plastic spider rings that are ubiquitous around Halloween. You’re essentially making a small pinata.
Unlike an Easter Egg Hunt that takes place on a grassy field, a Spider Egg Hunt should be held in the kind of environment where you are likely to find actual spider egg sacs. Here in the Midwest, a basement, shed, or detached garage are great options. Add to the excitement by giving your little naturalists flashlights as you search the corners and crevices of those dark places.
After you find your giant “egg” gently break it open to see all the babies.
Witch’s Cotton Candy
Do you have an area that’s thick with cob webs? Take a branch that’s between three and eight inches long (a popsicle stick or pencil will also do). Stick one end in the cobweb and swirl it around, gathering up the sticky threads as a though you are making cotton candy. You can use these as Halloween decorations, but for goodness sake, don’t eat them!
Some spiders weave new webs each day. Others rely on a single web for a longer period of time. You may wish to assess the web’s vacancy before destroying it. But I have to admit, as much as we taught my boys to look at nature rather than disrupt it, there were, and still are, exceptions. Notably, if nature is impinging in our human territory, like ants in the kitchen or spiders in the basement, the are given new homes (and not always Earthly ones).
The spider in the video above had a few sisters and they were taking over my back porch. My family begged me to stop playing with them and get rid of them. Sigh.