Spiral shell

We just got through reading Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, a wonderful picture book written by Joyce Sidman with beautiful detailed scratch-board illustrations by Beth Krommes. The illustrations are bold, colorful, and full of texture.  It is about reoccurring shapes in nature specifically the spiral. The book show many examples, explains some of the functional benefits (for example an animal might curl up in a spiral to conserve heat), and celebrates the inherent beauty of spirals. At the end it also explains spirals as mathematical patterns. The mathematical term for reoccurring patterns in nature is fractals.

On my drive this morning I was looking at trees and their branches which are so visible now without leaves. Branches are another example of a repeating pattern in nature. After reading this book you will start looking for them! River networks and blood vessels also have the same branching characteristic. It makes me want to learn more about fractals.

Branching pattern

Has anyone seen the PBS program Nova: Hunting the Hidden Dimension? Can’t wait to check it out!

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Update! I watched the hidden dimension.  Check out Teaching Fractals which includes a printable fractals activity for kids!



I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. Love the spiral shell…I’m considering a branch pic for tomm’s post as well. I took it a few days ago as me and the furgirl sat outside on the observation deck waiting for the sunset (well…she was waiting for a belly scratch).

  2. Love this stuff too! Do you mind doing a follow up after you see that PBS program and any more ideas you have relaying fractals and spirals in nature to math? I’d love to point that out to my kids (once I know what to say!).

    • I found it on Youtube and hopefully will watch it tonight. I am really looking forward to watching and great idea about doing a follow-up!

  3. I’ve seen the PBS special on fractals and it was mesmerizing. I watched it with my (then) 7 yr old and he really liked it too.

    Thanks for the book recommendation!

  4. One of my jobs on the Children’s Floor at the library is to mark which books have stand-out art for illustration. This is one of the ones I recently honored with an “art” sticker. I love it and will definitely be reading it to Simon when he is a little older.

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