Spirals: Looking for Them in Nature and Creating Art with Them


Fern on the mountain that grows out from a spiral. © Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


The Summer season is approaching and we are at the moment between the end of Spring and the beginnings of Summer.  For most areas, it is time to go out and explore.  This would be a great time either go look for spirals, or create them with your children.

There are so many, many things that grow in spirals.  You can talk about the solar system that we live in to your child and show how the planets, starting from the center that is the Sun and show how the movement is in a spiral, while each planet does move around the Sun in an elliptical motion, the whole system moves inward, out.  Because we cannot take to the outskirts of our solar system, we can show them how living things in the world we live in also grow in a spiral fashion.  We can also make spirals for art. 🙂


Look at the Fern, in the picture above.  The way that this Fern grows is first starting in a Spiral and then opening up by unraveling itself.  If you look closely to the ends of this Fern, you can see little tiny spirals that are waiting to unravel.  I am sure there is a better scientific way to describe this, but I am here to show you how you can teach your child about different shapes, which includes spirals 🙂



Sea Shell from the ocean that I used for a Mandala for water ©Christina Grossman All Rights Reserved


There are many shells that have circular spirals and are fun to look at and find on the beach.  There are also shells that are more conic, cones, that form in a spiral fashion.  So, if you live near a beach, or a craft store, or dollar store, go see what you can find.



Fern on the mountain that grows out from a spiral. © Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


We get a lot of things from the nearby dollar store for arts and crafts and such.  These glass beads are so beautiful to use to make art with, especially spirals.  This gives the child and you a chance to figure out how to space things out so that everything is symmetric, or balanced on both sides.  For children who are not able to draw spirals in the beginning, this gives them an opportunity to create one with stones.  Glass beads are not required, but you get the idea.  You can even print this one out and start from the first light blue glass bead from the center and start singing the ABCs.  You have enough light blue beads to complete the whole song. 🙂



Fern on the mountain that grows out from a spiral. © Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


There are some leaves, that when they fall off the branch and begin to dry, they make spirals.  If you are living in the Southwest, you might be more familiar with these leaves.  They are all over our yard and they dry up in little beautiful spirals.



A vine from our Carolina Jasmine in our yard.  ©Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


These vines have these yellow trumpet like flowers that hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees love when they are in bloom.  The interesting way that Carolina Jasmine grows is how the vines spiral out when they grow.  This is how the Carolina Jasmine grows in different directions, whether on a lattice, around a tree, or attaching to a bush.  The Carolina Jasmine does not have any “grippers” or “creepers” to attach to a wall or a tree, it actually grows in spirals, as you can see on the picture above.  All you need to do is just pay attention.  🙂


Fern on the mountain that grows out from a spiral. © Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


Cabbage!  Slice up your red/purple cabbage to reveal that not all spirals are formed by circles.  If you look at the center, you see a five-pointed star.  On the outer perimeter of the star is a pentagon.  This pentagon rotates and rotates and you see a spiral as well 🙂 Give this to your child to trace the spiral with their fingers.  If you don’t have cabbage, print this picture out, or show this to them on the screen!


Spiral art made from Sycamore leaves from smallest to biggest. © Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved


This photo of the spiral made from Sycamore leaves is not a new addition to this blog.  This was a short activity to involve my children in when working on the idea of smallest to biggest.  Do this with dried leaves, fresh leaves, flowers, cereal, or rocks.  The kids really liked this one, but you may find that keeping this as few of leaves as possible will guarantee that the kids will finish it.


Something To Think About:  

How will this prepare them for Kindergarten, or for a mathematics readiness test?  It does something even more important than that.  You showing them that the world they live in has mathematics gives them relevance and excitement.  Learning mathematics and exploring mathematics is not all about formulas, it is really about understanding how much our world lives in mathematics.  Whether it is how a plant spreads out in growth, the food we eat, or artwork that we create, the more involved we feel in something we are learning, the more we lead ourselves to a better understanding of it.

My oldest son might just say “Ya, ya, I know it’s a spiral,” but I will keep doing this over and over when I get the chance to just take a moment to point things out in his world.  It is like showing a child where vegetables come from and starting a garden, or picking from a garden.  It offers an opportunity to become more connected with the world.  So go outside and have some fun and take a few moments to point out the spirals that you see.  Enjoy the time you have with your children and make it fun. 🙂


copyright 2016 Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved





Celebrating Autumn From Smallest to Biggest and Spiral

This kids are 1,4, and 5 at this point last. There are leaves everywhere from the Sycamore tree. So where there is nature, there is math. 🙂

This was really a great time for us to be together outside and looks for leaves.  My older ones were particular about the way the leaves looked. It took a bit of time, but it was worth it. There was a lot of comparing and contrasting to see which one was smallest to biggest, but it came naturally, as it should.

The boys were helping me put the spiral together with the leaves, but the rest of the leaves were calling out to them to play. 🙂 I finished the rest of the spiral and they did get to see that we can make art out of nature. That same day, one made a horse out of leaves, while the other one was still trying to find the smallest leaf and the perfect leaf. 🙂

What Math Concepts Were Learned?


  1. Biggest to Smallest, Smallest to Biggest
  2. Compare and Contrast
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Spatial Reasining when putting together the spiral

Something to Think About:

When Autumn comes, there is a lot to explore and play with. There are rocks, sticks, leaves, acorns, and such to compare and contrast. Then make art with it!

Remember, it is not that you get there first in learning, it is that you get there in the first place.

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

Flash Cards to Teach Children Their Letters and Desert Animals: Connecting Numeracy and Literacy


Mathematics and literacy should go hand in hand.  I have used different things to teach my children letters of the alphabet and sounds they make.  In mathematics, we use letters as variables to solve for an unknown value/amount.  We also use our letters to form words and complete thoughts to be able to describe how we solved a problem and what questions or further explorations we still have about that problem.  This is why Learning Math with Mom has a Reading Corner on the website.  Literacy is important. What can you use to help your child begin the learning?  How about flash cards with a bit of meaning to them?

I had the pleasure of meeting a local artist, here in Tucson, AZ, at the 5th Annual UA Presents Children’s Festival.  Her name is Julie Rustad.  Julie owns Julie Originals and created a set of flash cards that related to letters and our local desert animals.  These are beautifully made flash cards and I really appreciate the thought that went into creating these miniature works of art.  Not only are they beautiful alphabet cards, but they also teach the desert child about the animals in our local surroundings.  As promised, here is Julie’s website for more information as to how to order the flash cards, or where to purchase them:  http://julieoriginals.com/.  The name of the flash cards is Desert Dwellers Flash Cards.  As a note, I have not been paid, or anything of sorts, to endorse Julie.  I simply was taken by the beauty and thought of her creation.

If you read any of my other blog entries, you know by now that simply using flash cards does not necessarily build on meaning or understanding.  So here are a few ideas of how to use Julie’s flash cards, or any other alphabet flash cards to make the learning experience for both you and your child(ren) more meaningful!


1)      Go outside and have your child hold, touch, see, hear, and smell things that start with that particular letter.  Practice pointing out what color(s) is on that particular animal.

2)      Practice and over emphasize the sound of the first letter of that object outside, or inside.  Allow the child to repeat the sound or you repeat the sound for him/her.

3)      For Julie’s cards, go out and see how many of the desert animals you can find outside.  Pull out that particular card and show it to your child(ren).  Practice the sounds that each letter in the name of the animals has.

4)      For an art project, work with your child(ren) to see the different shapes that each animal has on the body.  For example, the ears of a certain animal might look like circles or ovals.  The beak of a bird might look like a triangle.  Either precut those shapes out of construction paper or help your child draw the animal using those shapes.  This in particular, has helped my now 4 year old expand on his drawing by understanding what shapes make up a certain animal, car, or person.

5)      For night time reading, use the cards to read stories and facts about each animal.  Either you or your child(ren) can make up a story about that animal or a group of animals.

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 0-18 months?


  1. Tuesday for Reading
  2. Thursday for Shapes
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go see it outside and explore


Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 18 months-3 years? 


  1.  Monday for Shapes
  2. Monday-Friday for Letters
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Monday-Friday for Colors
  5. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go outside to see it and explore


Something to Think About: 

When it comes to finding that one thing/learning tool you can use for so many learning experiences for your child, it becomes golden because it is only one thing you need to keep track of in your house.  In addition to that, it is also a tool that can develop meaning for your child in so many different areas.  Think about it, these flash cards can fit in your purse, diaper bag, or car.  When the moment presents itself, take them out and do a quick lesson.

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.  Don’t worry too much. 🙂

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

copyright 2013 learning math with mom