Spider Map Graphic Organizers in the Classroom

By Natasha Lupiani

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Elementary School and Special Education Categories!

What is a Spider Map?

Spider Map - spider diagram - mind map template

A spider map is a brainstorming or organizational tool that provides a visual framework for students to use. Sometimes, this graphic organizer is called a “concept map” or a “spider web graphic organizer”. A spider map has a main idea or topic in the center, or the body, of the diagram. Each detail or sub-topic associated with the main idea has its own leg, or branch, surrounding the main idea.

Spider Maps Help You:

Create a Spider Map  

Breaking Down the Spider Map

The title in the center of the spider map is the central topic, person, or vocabulary word. The map then branches out into separate cells to show details or examples of the topic. Having the main topic in the center and the ideas surrounding it reduces the temptation to give greater importance to particular details. The legs of the spider map are all treated equally!

Create a Storyboard 

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Create a Spider Map  

How Can I Use the Spider Map in My Classroom?

The spider map concept and the storyboard format are a great combination that allow for a multi-disciplinary approach. It is a true enhancement to any classroom!

Customize Worksheets!

If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create spider map worksheets to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas.

ELA History Foreign Language STEM
  • 5 Ws
  • Causes of a Significant Event
  • Important Historical Figures
  • Vocabulary
  • Characteristics
  • Cultural Examples
  • Brainstorming
  • Fraction Equivalents
  • Internet Safety

The basic premise of spider mapping is to familiarize students with a topic at a basic level. Elementary students, fora example, still have narrow scope of knowledge on many topics. Using a spider map with this age group encourages a deeper, more thought-provoking exploration about something they may not know much about.

Spider maps give the students a way to record and organize their ideas. In a spider map, the details are surrounding the central topic in a branch-like format. This naturally eliminates the hierarchy that a linear outline may portray.

Create a Spider Map  

Spider mapping can be used by all ages. It is most commonly used in the elementary grades, but middle school, high school, or even college students can benefit from using spider maps. They are a great way for older students to organize information. Often, students will start brainstorming and realize they know more, or less, than they originally thought.

Create a Spider Map  

English Language Arts

The spider map focuses on one topic and the details related to that topic, so this graphic organizer is perfect for main idea and details, character and characteristics, theme and examples, and much more! Also use this graphic organizer for brainstorming and planning for writing.

Example Activities

Create a Spider Map  


Since the spider map does not give priority to specific information, it is an ideal graphic organizer to show competing forces or concurrent events. A favorite spider map activity is the 5 Ws that asks the questions "who, what, where, when, and why?" on a topic or event. Students can share a wealth of information in a simple, clear fashion.

Example Activities

Create a Spider Map  

Foreign Language

Learning associations or vocabulary in groups while studying a new language can greatly enhance language acquisition and reinforcement. Use a spider map to show related items for a greater understanding of the whole concept or unit. In addition, any activity that can be used for ELA can be used in more advanced foreign language literature classes.

Example Activities

Create a Spider Map  

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Coming up with questions, researching, and testing drive many STEM projects. The spider map can assist students with note-taking, spit-balling ideas, organizing topics or materials, and presenting findings. The non-linear format is perfect for information that holds equal significance.

Example Activities

Create a Spider Map  

Applications for Special Education

Storyboard That is a fun tool for everyone in the classroom, but may be particularly useful for students on IEPs and 504 plans. Graphic organizers serve as a way to structure or guide a student's thinking. The spider map makes brainstorming easy and engaging!

Storyboard That allows the creators to incorporate pictures, colors, and text into their graphic organizers; not all students have stellar handwriting or drawing abilities. Incorporating a storyboard-style format into digital storytelling allows handwriting abilities and drawing talents to become irrelevant. All students end up with a graphic organizer they can look back on later and still be able to understand it.

Educators can use Storyboard That to create their own customized digital assignments or print-outs. Here are a few additional ideas on when to use a spider map storyboard for special education:

Create a Spider Map  

For more ideas on integrating storyboards in special education, please see our other articles related to special education.

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Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Spider Maps   •   (Español) Mapas de Spider   •   (Français) Cartes D'Araignée   •   (Deutsch) Spinnenkarten   •   (Italiana) Mappe Spider   •   (Nederlands) Kaarten Spider   •   (Português) Mapas de Spider   •   (עברית) עכביש מפות   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) خرائط العنكبوت   •   (हिन्दी) स्पाइडर मैप्स   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Паук Карты   •   (Dansk) Kort Spider   •   (Svenska) Kartor Spider   •   (Suomi) Spider Kartat   •   (Norsk) Spider Maps   •   (Türkçe) Örümcek Haritaları   •   (Polski) Mapy Pająka   •   (Româna) Harta Spider   •   (Ceština) Spider Maps   •   (Slovenský) Spider Mapy   •   (Magyar) Spider Maps   •   (Hrvatski) Spider Karte   •   (български) Spider Maps   •   (Lietuvos) Spider Žemėlapiai   •   (Slovenščina) Spider Maps   •   (Latvijas) Spider Kartes   •   (eesti) Spider Maps