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.
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!
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.
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.