Friday, April 26, 2019

Books that celebrate Patterns in Nature

theme: patterns, nature, observation

Spot, Spike, Spiral (Board book)
by Sarah Grace Tuttle; illus. by Miriam Nerlove
28 pages; ages 2-4
Creative Editions, 2019 

Spot. Spike. Spiral.

This book introduces nine spotted, spiked, or spiraled creatures. The text is simple, the art vibrant and richly detailed. Pages invite you to linger and study the colors and patterns of the blue poison dart frog, the wattle cup caterpillar, the rainbow millipede.

What I like about this book: I love the vibrant watercolor illustrations. I love the way Miriam Nerlove captures texture and movement. And I like the simplicity of the text. Spot. Spike. Spiral. What I really like, though, is the last spread that shows each of the animals featured in the book.

This is a wonderful companion to their earlier book, Dot, Stripe, Squiggle, published last August. That book introduced young observers to nine sea creatures, from red-spotted blennies to zebra lionfish and sea nettles. What both books do well is to shine a light on the simple shapes and patterns that children can see in their environment. Even if they don’t remember the names of the beetles, mollusks, or fish, children will recognize spots and squiggles, spikes and spirals.

Flow, Spin, Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature
by Patchen Barss; illus. by Todd Stewart
32 pages; ages 4 - 8
Owlkids, 2018

Look, climb, dig, flow. Breathe in deep, around you go. 
Twirl, whirl, swirl, grow….

A poetic line? Or suggestions for exploration? Each spread takes a word and expands on it. Look – for patterns. Climb – a tree. And as you do, notice how the limbs and branches split. Nature is in motion, spinning, twirling around the sun, and those whirls and swirls are echoed in the spirals we find in pine cones, sea shells, plant tendrils.

What I like about this book: It invites you to move, to observe, to participate in the world around us. The text connects and compares: winding streams to the spreading branches of a tree to the branches of the bronchi and bronchioles that carry air into our lungs.

Back matter compares patterns of a giraffe’s coat to tree bark to cracked mud. “Be watchful,” writes author Patchen Barrs. “Ask questions. Make connections.”

Beyond the Book

Go on a nature walk to find patterns in nature. This blog post has ideas of things to look for.

Have a scavenger hunt. How many of these patterns can you find?

  • star shapes
  • coils
  • round things
  • spirals
  • branching
  • cracking
  • stripes
  • spots
  • spikes
  • squiggles
  • zig-zags

Look for spikes and patterns on caterpillars and butterflies. Use this guide to help you.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. Fun choices. I will check these out. Thanks for the post.

  2. As an extension, this is such a beautiful way to introduce math concepts through pattern. I'm a fan.

  3. What a beautiful book! In my experience most kids are fascinated by the patterns in nature.