Activity: Magical Adventures with a Perfect Square

We’ve enjoyed a week of reading and activities that have opened our eyes to the wonderful shapes that surround us, both perfect and irregular.

This post is really about the precious learning that took place with each small task we undertook throughout the week- and all it took was approximately 15 minutes each day- but you’ll want to keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to see how we pulled the week together.

We borrowed Perfect Square from the library. It was one of my selections and it actually took a few days for Cam to show an interest in the book.

Once Cam did pick up the book, it quickly became the flavour of the week- LITERALLY. We read the book and (obviously inspired by it), she quickly asked if we could create pictures from squares.

I welcomed the invitation, and we jumped into a week of rich learning. We re-visited the book each day, and  followed the structure of the book: manipulating a square in a different way each day of the week and transforming the squares into wonderful works of art, which we eventually used to create a story of our own.


  • We learned some new manipulation techniques and developed our fine motor skills too (tearing, punching holes, shredding, cutting along lines, scrunching and crumpling)

  • We began to understand the properties of square (by the end of the week we were talking about ‘equal sides’ and ‘matching corners‘)
  • We gained a better understanding of time and days of the week (waiting ever so patiently for the next day to arrive)
  • We used some new tools (hole punch and zig-zag scissors)
  • We put some thought into how we perceive the world around us, and what shapes make up the everyday objects around us
  • We were given an opportunity to use our imagination and creativity
  • We created a new resource for stimulating stories of our own


‘It was a perfect square. It had four matching corners and four equal sides.

And it was perfectly happy.’


‘But on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes.’

We started the week eagerly, and once Cam mastered the hole-punch she was entertained for hours.  The confetti reminded her of seeds- which was the inspiration for the artwork she created.


‘On Tuesday, the square was torn into scraps.’

After tearing the square, Cam spotted a few shapes that she though resembled princess dresses. She created some princesses (and a witch) in her artwork, and we decided to hang a few odd clothing items to the clothes line.


‘On Wednesday, the square was shredded in strips.’

By Wednesday, Perfect Square was the very first thing Cam was talking about in the mornings. ‘What are we going to do to the square today?’ she would ask. We found ourselves shredding the square into strips before we had even changed out of our pyjamas.


‘On Thursday, the square was shattered.’

Thursday’s task was to shatter the square, so I decided to rule lines on the square. I thought Cam could cut along the lines and in the process practise her scissor skills- of which I was most impressed.

We spotted a few shapes which looked like kites and Cam really wanted to create a fountain (a feature in the actual book), which is how we came to create a playground/park.


‘On Friday, the square was snipped into ribbons.’

From the very first reading of this book, Cam was fascinated by the jagged edges of the ribbons. I told her we could do that with zig-zag scissors, and so she waited patiently until Friday when she could use the zig-zag scissors (hence the pyjamas).

The zig-zag scissors require a little more strength than your standard pair of scissors,  so Cam had only half cut the ribbons. With eight dangly pieces hanging from the square, she thought it looked like an octopus.


‘On Saturday, the square was crumpled and ripped and wrinkled.’

We used heavy card stock, so scrunching the square was harder than Cam had anticipated. Cam ALWAYS has Santa on mind, and quickly spotted his boot in the shape after ripping the crumpled square.


‘On Sunday, the square waited to see what was next. It waited and waited. Nothing happened’

We had nothing to do to the square on Sunday, so we decided to search for squares around the house. I began by planting a few squares where Cam could easily spot them, but she grasped the concept more quickly than I had expected.

I put the camera in her hands and let her take her own snaps of any squares she could spot:

We also used our pieces of artwork to create our own storybook. Other than a title, the artworks have no words, so we can change the story each time we read the book…..and boy, can our stories get crazy!


This has been our interpretation of Perfect Square. You will have to borrow it yourself to see the magic that Michael Hall creates with his squares.

Book Details:

Michael Hall

ISBN: 978-0061915130

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), March 2011

RRP: $24.99 (aud)

Also look out for My Heart is a Zoo by the same author.

Activity: Magical Adventures with a Perfect Square


  1. Loved Loved Loved this post! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

    • I’ll have to return it to the library asap then :) I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  2. What a gorgeous idea Jackie. She takes a great photo too! :)

    • Thanks Martine. I did do a little cropping, but like all technology- she’s much better than me with camera :)

  3. Suz said: On July 24, 2012

    Wow! This sounds like a really great book. I have a little collection of books that help to teach numeracy skills and this would be a great addition to it. Thanks for the recommendation and for all the helpful suggestions for activities. Off to order the book now!

    • You’ll love the book. What I love most about it is the broad range of concepts it covers- but in a subtle and creative way :)

  4. This is fantastic!!

    • Thank Steph. It really was fantastic. I love walking away from activities knowing how much my daughter benefited……but she always does when she instigates the activity. :)

  5. Ali said: On July 25, 2012

    This is seriously fantastic, what a wonderful book to have created with so much work. I am intrigued to track down ‘perfect square.’

    • Thanks Ali. Our book has been sitting in the lounge room- and it’s really lovely to see Cam go to it everyday and create her own story.

  6. I’ve realised that I’ve read this post already but forgot to leave a comment! Whoops. Well, I thought it was a great post! I love how you carry the theme through the whole week which I think helps to consolidate learning and give it more meaning. And what a fun week it looked too! Loved the ideas and would love to read this book. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Thanks Debs. All is okay- you don’t have to leave a comment :)
      This is actually the first time (I think) that we’ve carried a theme through the whole week- but the book really invited that…..and it was a wonderful experience. 10-15 minutes a day is wonderful for a pre-schooler.

  7. Amy said: On March 22, 2013

    Perfect square has been an absolute favourite of my 3 year old son since we first bought it after seeing this post last year. We have finally got into some art activities based on the book. This morning he was engrossed with mixing colours and painting squares so that we can make our own version. I was very surprised that my extremely active boy sat very still and painstakingly painted his squares. He painted purposefully and delicately and would only deem the square finished when there was no white left on his paper.
    Thanks so much for your book recommendations (his other current bedtime favourite is ‘Ten Tiny Things’) and thoughtful and creative book-inspired activities. My little book lover and I are better for having found ‘My Little Bookcase’.

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