What is a spider diagram?

Cinderella spider diagram
Spider diagrams are common planning tools in the primary-school classroom, used in science as well as literacy. We explain what you need to know to help your child use a spider diagram when preparing a fiction or non-fiction piece of writing.

Spider diagrams are often used by teachers to help children make notes on a particular subject. A picture or word may be put in the middle of the page and then several 'legs' drawn radiating outwards. Children then need to write words or phrases about the object in the centre.

A spider diagram could be used to describe a certain character. Having a picture in the centre of the diagram means that children have something concrete to refer to when describing the character, rather than relying on their memory.

A spider diagram could be used when researching a subject for a non-fiction piece of writing. This spider diagram prompts children to put different bits of information into different boxes, so that the information is already 'sorted' before they start writing it up into paragraphs:

Spider diagrams are an excellent way to encourage children to jot down their thoughts without having to worry about writing in full sentences or thinking about punctuation. They are either used as a stand-alone activity to encourage children to externalise their thoughts and provide the teacher with an assessment opportunity, or they are used as a means of planning a 'neat' piece of writing.

Other literacy planning and comprehension diagrams used in the primary classroom are story maps, story flowcharts and story mountains.

They are also used in science so that a teacher can assess how much knowledge children have on particular subject before they start a unit of work.