Prep: 5 Minutes / Activity Time: 7-10 Minutes

Singing helps develop phonological awareness by slowing down language, which allows your toddler to hear the different sounds in words and to learn about syllables. Here's an opportunity to actively engage your toddler with singing and movement using The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Sing this song two ways: first with a fingerplay, encouraging movement of fingers and hands. Next, use props to encourage the dramatization of the song as your toddler plays the role of the spider! Set the stage near an item that your toddler can safely climb up and down, like a sofa or cushion inside or toddler slide or chair outside.

  • spider headband: sheet of black or brown paper cut into strips
  • sofa, toddler slide or chair  

Preparation: Spider Headband

Step 1: Cut a sheet of black or brown paper into 9 or 10 strips. Use one or two strips to make a band that fits around your child’s head.

Step 2: Fold eight strips, in an accordion fashion, to use as the spider legs. Tape four of the legs to one side of the head band and the remaining four on the other side. Place the spider headband near the sofa, toddler slide or chair.


Step 1: Sit inside or outside with your toddler in your lap, wrapping your arms around her. Bring your hands together and demonstrate how to position your fingers to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Encourage your toddler to imitate you. Sing the song together and invite her to move her fingers as you move yours. You might say:

Come sit with me sweetie, when I hug you like this, our hands are near each other. Can you wiggle your fingers like this? I can too! Can you put your fingers together like this? (thumbs and index fingers touching) I can too! Hey, let’s sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider song!

Sing the song moving your hands and fingers along with the words. Cheer enthusiastically when you are done.

Step 2: Next, walk over to the sofa, toddler slide or chair and show her the spider headband. Explain that she can be the spider climbing up and coming down as you sing the song. Adapt some words to make the song more personal. You might sing:

Itsy bitsy spider Keisha, climbed up the water spout.
(Encourage her to climb up.)

Down came the rain and washed Keisha spider out.
(She climbs down, you motion rain.)                                          

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
(Both of you can spread your arms upward.)

And itsy bitsy spider Keisha, climbed up the spout again!
(Encourage her to climb up again.)

Clap and cheer enthusiastically when you finish the song!

Step 3: Play again if she is interested. Try switching roles: you can be the spider as she sings the song about you. Have fun!

You might look at the recommended book Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler to extend this activity.