4 Arts Integration Ideas Using Spiders

12:00 AM

4 Ideas for Integrating a Bourgeois Maman (Spider) into Your Instruction

As an art teacher and arts integration specialist, I frequently use the works of famous artists to connect other subject matter. If you've followed my blog, Party in the Art Room, you know how much I advocate for teaching and learning outside our usual boxes. 

My own children are noticing that spiders have become more active lately, and we've been talking about the science behind that. Now, in Mississippi, we are already seeing spiders come into the house, but I'm aware that in other parts of the country it can be late summer and early fall before that happens. So, in thinking about the upcoming school year, I thought maybe spiders would be a fun and outside the box topic for young learners! 

In this post you will find 4 ideas for using the work of Louise Bourgeois to explore arachnids while integrating other subjects. Also, make sure you visit the link at the end of the post for even more in depth ideas as well as ideas for using other artists to reach students in your content areas. 


Here are some questions you can use in your classroom to get your students into the habit of making keen observations while studying Louise Bourgeois' Maman sculptures: 

  • What do you see? What else do you see? Is there anything else that you notice about the artwork? What details do you see?
  • What do you think about as you view this work? What makes you say that? Justify what you are thinking based on what you see in the work?
  • What questions do you have for the artist?

History and Maps

Use the arachnid in the art work as a jumping off point to explore the following social studies concepts:

  • Compare and contrast spiders in art throughout historical time periods
  • Create a map to show different types of spiders all over the world
  • Compare spiders from different climates and habitats

Storytelling and Writing

Most all of your students will have a background experience with a spider. Have them use that experience to write a personal narrative:

  • Have them develop characters, setting, and plot before they begin writing
  • Remind them to include a problem and a resolution
  • Have them illustrate their writing. 

Creating Artwork

Students can easily create their own spider sculpture with minimal materials:

  1. First, have them sketch what their sculpture could look like. This will allow them to do a little planning beforehand, which will cut down on waste of materials. Be sure to let them know what materials they will have access to before they begin to sketch.
  2. I recommend using cheap wire and masking tape to have students create their sculptures. They can easily form the shapes, build depth with the tape, and paint them black with tempera or acrylic. Just have them form the shape with the wire first. Then, have them wrap it with tape.

Looking for More Ideas

The ideas included here are to jumpstart your arts integration lessons and are by no means comprehensive. Remember, you can always find lots more ideas for using the arts to teach a variety of subjects as well as tips and tricks for using the visual arts in education over at Party in the Art Room. One of our blog columns, Art is at the Core, will be particularly beneficial to regular education teachers. Be sure to check for more of those coming your way soon! 

Happy Teaching and Learning!


by Amanda Koonlaba, Ed.S.

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