Spiders and other “creepy” animals

Many of the symbols of Halloween are animals – creepy, crawly spiders, swooping bats, owls in trees, and crows on rooftops. These animals aren’t inherently scary and they most certainly aren’t evil! Let’s explore some truths about these “Halloween” animals!

As you learn about each “spooky” animal ask children what they know about that animal first. Show them a picture of each animal and ask: Do they “like” this animal? Why or why not? Have they ever seen or touched one in real life? Would they want one as a pet? Why or why not? Say the name of each animal and have children stand in different floor circles corresponding to different emotions (smiley face, straight line face, and frown). Graph children’s responses to each animal. After children have learned more about each animal repeat the emotions graph. Has it changed? Did the children change their minds about the animals? What changed their minds? How do they feel now? Accurate information and pleasant experiences with animals helps promote positive feelings for “creepy crawly” animals!


yellow garden spider
One of the most commonly found orb weaver is the yellow garden spider.

Creepy spiders and dusty cobwebs are a staple of Halloween decorating. But what do you know about these web-spinning animal wonders? There are more than 3,000 species of spiders in North America. These interesting eight-legged arachnids eat insects and other small prey. They are beneficial to humans because they help keep insect populations under control. The world would be full of flies if it wasn’t for spiders!


Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight and one of the most misunderstood animals in the world. Contrary to popular belief, bats do not dive at your hair, bite your neck, or suck your blood! Bats find their way using a sonar-like system called echolocation, though they can see with their eyes as well. Iowa’s bats are insect eaters and have no more desire for your blood than a fluffy bunny does.

Bats are beneficial to humans in a BIG way – by eating insects!  A single bat can eat up to 2,000 mosquitoes in a single night. That’s 2,000 mosquitoes gone from your yard in one night by just one bat! There are nine species of bats found in Iowa, one of which, the Indiana bat, is federally endangered.


barred owl
A barred owl sits in a tree.

These mostly nocturnal hunters of woodlands and fields have been regarded with apprehension for centuries. With their silent wings, large eyes, and heads that appear to turn all the way around (a myth!), these fascinating birds of prey have gotten a bad rap. There are eight species of owls that are regularly found in Iowa and four species that are occasional visitors.

Wide Eye Owl Song (with hand play)

There’s a wide eye owl (make binoculars with hands on eyes)
With a pointed nose (point to nose)
Two pointed ears (grab ears)
And claws for toes (wiggle fingers and point to toes)
He lives way up in the tree (point up to the ceiling)
And when he looks at you (point)
He flaps his wings (flap arms like wings)
And says Who….Whooo! (continue flapping)


Maybe it is the fact that crows are large and ominous looking, or maybe it’s their hoarse, throaty calls, but crows are often associated with witches and haunted houses. However, crows are highly intelligent, social birds who love to play just like you do!

For more fun ideas to do with these “creepy” Halloween animals use Growing Up WILD’s “First Impressions,” “Spider Web Wonders,” and “Owl Pellets.”


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