Spiral Investigations in Nature, Books, Art, and Math

One of the coolest patterns in nature is the spiral, don’t you think? Investigate spirals with your kids by observing in nature, books, art, and making your own.

Spirals In Nature

You can find spirals in

  • a seashell
  • a spider web
  • flower petals
  • cauliflower florets
  • pine cones
  • seeds of a sunflower 

Spirals Are Fibonacci Numbers.

Fibonacci numbers are the pattern where each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity. The ratio between the numbers (1.618034) is called the golden ratio. Spirals are Fibonacci numbers.

Learn several ways to count spirals from the Museum of Mathematics.

 

Learn About Spirals With Observation

The best way for kids to learn about spirals? Find and observe.

  • Nature walk
  • Microscope
  • Nature journal

Adapt this handout, Nature’s Numbers from The Franklin Institute, for when you search for spirals.

Print out this flower spiral page from the book, Growing Patterns, laminate, cut apart, and put together like a puzzle.

Watch a video about plants and spirals.

Man-Made Spirals

Spirals are often found in architecture and buildings. Go on a Spiral scavenger hunt. [printable version]

Find a . . .

spiral notebook

Attribution Some rights reserved by Hey Paul

spiral staircase

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by sjdunphy

spiral artwork

Attribution Some rights reserved by LadyDragonflyCC – NEW 50mm Lens

Make your own spirals

Spiral Book.
Use your artist’s journal or camera and make your own spiral book.

Spiral Mobile

Hypotrochoid Art Set

DIY Pendulum Pen

Read Books About Spirals

Swirl By Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

Growing Patterns by Sarah Campbell

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places by Cora Lee

Spiral Draw Book

top shell image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Scarygami

Spirals are everywhere.

What will you do with your kids to learn about spirals?

spiral investigations in the world

  • kara campbell

    I love your blog. It has been hard to find blogs that aren’t just for the preschool set (I have an 8,5 and 3 year old). Your blog’s content is so informative, creative and inspiring. Thank you so much for all your hard work. You have truly made a significant contribution to our family.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      thank you, Kara! That makes my day!!

  • http://www.schoolsparks.com/kindergarten-worksheets Renee

    I never thought to teach spirals during my patterning units — very thoughtful blog post, thank you!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      hope it’s fun! :)

  • Maria Gianferrari

    Great post!

    These are some other great picture books on Fibonacci himself, and in nature:

    Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D’Agnese

    Wild Fibonacci by Joy N. Hulme

    These are humorous:

    Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere by Ann McCallum

    The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

    For older readers, Kate Messner’s Sugar and Ice also has Fibonacci as a theme.

    ~Maria

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    I had an A HA moment. I never knew what a fibonacci number was and could not figure out the pattern from Math Curse (one of my son’s favorite books). Thank you! And I never knew it related to spirals. In fact, I wasn’t able to make the connection even though it was pointed out to me.

    Thanks! I feel smarter today!

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