Published in 1952, Charlotte’s Web is the beloved tale of the unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider. Though written for children, it contains some challenging vocabulary (like “idiosyncrasy” and “salutations”), and it even deals gently with the topic of death.
Below are some ideas to explore and a list of resources, a vocabulary worksheet, and a comprehension quiz all centered around Charlotte’s Web.
Ideas to Explore the Messages & Meanings of Charlotte’s Web
Language Arts –
- Vocabulary – Charlotte’s Web contains many challenging vocabulary words. Here are two vocabulary worksheets using some of the more memorable words in the book: commotion, conspiracy, exertions, gullible, lair, masterpiece, rodent, runt, salutations, & specimen
- Adjectives – Charlotte had to come up with adjectives to put in her web to describe Wilbur. Teach the students what an adjective is, and have them come up with adjectives to describe the other animals.
- Letter writing – In the story, Charlotte’s daughter, Aranea went out into the world so that she could return and tell Wilbur what she had seen. Have your students write letters and send them to people in different parts of the world to see what kind of response they will get. You might want to do this electronically to get a faster response.
- Printable masks are great for role playing or other activities. We have both a pig mask and a spider mask They both come in a full color version and a coloring page version.
- For younger children, here are two easy ‘hats’: a pig ears headband and a construction paper spider hat.
- And here are instructions to make a pipe cleaner spider finger puppet or pencil topper – and a glitter glue spider web window cling.
- Spiders – Charlotte is a member of the arachnid family. During the course of the book, she teaches Wilbur many things about spiders – what they eat, how they spin their webs, how they lay eggs, and how they die. Talk about how spiders differ from insects and how spiders benefit mankind by eating insects.
- Barnyard Animals – Discuss the reasons why farmers raise geese, cows, pigs, etc. and how they care for them.
Social Studies –
State & County Fairs – If you can possibly take a field trip to a local fair, it would be a great tie-in with this book. If you can’t, talk about how animals win prizes at the fair. Have your students design their own unique medals or ribbon awards for the animals in this story.
Have your own “fair” – Have students bring in their pets, or pictures of their pets. Help the students fill out information forms on breed, care, etc. Let other classes come in to view the pets and ask questions. Allow those students without pets to be judges, and let them award ribbons for special categories like “most furry” etc.
Friendships – Charlotte’s Web tells of two unlikely friendships –Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte and Wilbur. In both cases, Wilbur’s life was saved by the actions of his friend. Discuss the qualities of a good friend. You can also discuss unconventional friendships in pop culture, such as Shrek and Donkey in Dreamwork’s Shrek animated movies.