Spiral Investigations in Nature, Books, Art, and Math
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Math 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
- 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.
Spirals are often found in architecture and buildings. Go on a Spiral scavenger hunt. [printable version]
Find a . . .
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Make your own spirals
Use your artist’s journal or camera and make your own spiral book.
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
top shell image: Some rights reserved by Scarygami
Spirals are everywhere.
What will you do with your kids to learn about spirals?
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!
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.
I never thought to teach spirals during my patterning units — very thoughtful blog post, thank you!
hope it’s fun! 🙂
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.
thank you, Kara! That makes my day!!