As it goes, projects arise when the same things begin to appear over and over, in the classroom, and the kids (and the teachers) are on fire about it.


This time around, snails were coming in by the dozens by numerous kids.  So we observed where they lived in our yard and then the kids set up a large aquarium habitat.



The terrariums that we were originally going to work on during our seed to tree project, became individual snail habitats for further observation.



We talked about what we know, about their habitats, where to find them.  We observed them closely, drew them over and over and made them out of clay.

We learned an entire new vocabulary by studying the parts of a snail.


We drew, painted, labelled and wrote about what we know.  We also wrote stories about snails going on adventures.



We talked about what the difference between a snail and a slug is: a shell.

Nora, of course, found eggs and we watched tiny snails come to life.

Of course Jen incorporated this into Handwriting Without Tears.

As well as in the Studio with Jaala too.  Always.  I think we may share parts of our brains.

As we were studying, we realized that we were looking at spirals over and over.  Then we discovered that the Nautilus Shell has a mathematical spiral.

This spiral is found all around us in nature and is also called the Golden Ratio: In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio between the sum of those quantities and the larger one is the same as the ratio between the larger one and the smaller.  Also known at phi. and infinity.

Atti’s mom got us this book, which was the most perfect book I have ever gotten, at exactly the right time I needed it.

“Growing Patters: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature”

This is how we found out that it is also in flowers, plants, leaves, the branching in trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruitlets of a pineapple, the flowering of artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone.

We found the sequence in flowers:

  • 3 petals: lily, iris
  • 5 petals: buttercup, wild rose, larkspur
  • 8 petals: delphiniums
  • 13 petals: ragwort, corn marigold
  • 21 petals: aster, black-eyed susan
  • 34 petals: plantain
  • 55, 89 petals: michaelmas daisies
The same for pinecones, which we studied at length : they have either 8 spirals from one side and 13 from the other, or either 5 spirals from one side and 8 from the other.

Here is our mathematical breakdown.  They loved seeing it translated into the numbers.  And got it right away.

Don’t you usually learn about Fibonacci in kindergarten and first grade? Sarah keeps telling me, “you know Michelle, this isn’t college.” (while smiling of course).  Because this is better than college!

How is it that everything we study anymore leads us directly back to evolution and the patterns in nature?  Truly, truly amazing.

And questions and conversations like this:

And also the question of what other things might be infinite?

The list the kids made:

atoms, story, the life cycle, numbers, the universe, ideas, the ocean, snail shells, spirals, cells, energy, light, the sky, space…

“The Fibonacci numbers are Nature’s numbering system. They appear everywhere in Nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants, to the pattern of the florets of a flower, the bracts of a pinecone, or the scales of a pineapple. The Fibonacci numbers are therefore applicable to the growth of every living thing, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of mankind.”  -Stan Grist

Who knew we could tie weather, trees, snails and the universe all together like this.

Once again this class has led us down a path that is exhilarating for everyone.  Because we like to tell the entire school about our discoveries.  So watch out!  We may just solve the mysteries to the Universe here in Mystery Bay.