Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Patterns of Life


This morning as I was looking out my windows onto the woodlands behind my home,  I realized the first signs of Spring are just beginning to show.  How Exciting!  Although I love the colors of Autumn, it is the Springtime that I truly enjoy.  I love seeing all of the patterns of nature unfold before my eyes.  

Joyce Sidman's book Swirl by Swirl Spirals in Nature  is beautifully illustrated by Caldecott medal winner Beth Krommes.  The illustrations depict wonders in nature showing the spirals in it all.   Swirl by Swirl allows readers to explore the patterns of nature.  I love taking the time to breathe deeply, think about the Golden Ratio, and enjoy all of the beauty surrounding us!

I have to admit the book Swirl by Swirl Sprials in Nature by Joyce Sidman was a new one for me.  However, we love looking at the natural world so right away I was drawn to it.  Beth Krommes does an amazing  job depicting whimsical and colorful variations of swirls in our world, including seashells, flowers, and snails.  I was immediately absorbed in it and intrigued by the idea of the Fibonacci pattern being presented in so many forms.  I loved how the spirals "expand" and "reach", always showing change.  My mind immediately started reeling about how I can use this book as a starting point for teaching extended metaphors!  Leave it to a literacy teacher to turn a math concept into a language arts lesson!

Here are some ideas to help you enjoy Swirl by Swirl!
The titles link to the websites.

You can view a trailer for Swirl by Swirl on YouTube.  It has wonderful background music that can pull in even the most reluctant readers!

The Math is Fun website gives an easy explanation of the Fibonacci Sequence.  This a great site for students to better understand the concept.

Another picture book, Blockhead: the Life of Fibonacci tells the story of the mathematician's life through his own eyesThrough the book, we learn how Fibonacci came to develop the swirling sequence.  

Nature Walk
After reading the book, children will be so eager to find examples of the swirls on their own.  A great idea is to grab a camera and head out on a nature walk to snap some photos of real life swirls.  The children can use the book as a guide as they search. 

Extended Research
Within the Common Core Standards, research is foundational to informational writing skills.  It is helpful to introduce primary students to some of the many forms research can take.  At the Six Traits Gurus blog, you can find examples of how to incorporate research using Sidman's book.

Okay, we can go beyond nature and find delicious swirls in food as well.  This recipe is for healthy and delicious muffins.  Children of all ages will enjoy making and eating these!

An obvious, but fun activity still, would be writing shaped poetry.  Students can be given objects that are depicted in the storyThey would write a poem about that object focusing on adjectives and sensory details and then have their poem's lines form the shape of that object.
Extended Metaphor
My 7th grade class had just been discussing this idea so finding another way to present it to my class was on my mind.  After reading the book to my class, we discussed which characters from previous novels could be compared to a spiral - one that started "curled up" and then later began to "stretch out".  We then took the lesson a step further.  Working in groups, the students were each given a different shape and were asked to develop a metaphor that would compare another character to the shape they were given.
CCCS: Craft and Structure

scratch art pictureScratchboard Art
Krommes illustrations are Scratchboard Art.  It involves scratching away layers of color made by the artist until they blend to highlight areas of the picture.  Students could create their own Scratchboard Art.


 "A spiral ......
is a snuggling shape.
is a growing shape.
is a strong shape.
reaches out.
is clever.
is beautiful.
Spirals.....are fascinating!"
Joyce Sidman, Swirl by Swirl Sprirals in Nature 

Linking to: 
Foodie Friday 
On the Menu Monday


  1. I'm a nature watcher, and I just loved your post. Swirls are everywhere! Your Nutella muffins look delish!

  2. Thank you! We love taking my 5 yr old on nature walks! And he loves looking out for all kinds of plants and animals! We've now added spirals to our "explorer's scavenger hunt" list!

  3. What a lovely post! And those cupcakes look amazing! I enjoy coming here & seeing your ideas...can't wait for the warmer months so I can put them into practice with my son. Thanks again for joining Tasty Tuesdays! Hope to see you back tomorrow with another fabulous contribution!