Perfect Square: An Artistic Literacy Lesson for Preschoolers

Bring your child’s imagination to life and develop preschool art and literacy skills by using Michael Hall’s simple, fun book Perfect Square to inspire your own creations. Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.

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I found a new book to love: Perfect Square by Michael Hall. Do you know it? It came out in 2001, so it’s not exactly new, but I’d never heard of it until my brother mentioned it to me a few months ago. Fast forward to this week when I finally got around to checking it out from the library, and I’m in LOVE.

The simple story has more depth than your four-year-old will see, but that’s what makes it beautiful. It’s one of those rare books that really speaks to both adults and children.

In the story, a perfect square is ripped, cut, and shattered each day of the week, but each time, the square chooses to make itself into something beautiful. As soon as I read the book with Little Man, I immediately knew I wanted to use it for our home preschool. Little Man seemed intrigued by the story, so I pulled out some origami paper that I’ve had for a decade (seriously), and we got to work imagining our own squares into various creations.

Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.Here are the simple materials we used:

  • Origami paper (or you could just cut any paper you have into squares)
  • Scissors (Little Man loved using my old scrapbooking scissors from before the world went digital)
  • Hole punch
  • Glue (if you want to save your creations (we just enjoyed the process and didn’t glue ours)
  • Lots of imagination!

It was a wonderfully spontaneous activity that both Little Man and I loved. At first, Little Man wasn’t quite sure what to do with his paper. He would think of an idea, and then he would ask me how to make it. It was tempting to give him ideas, but I felt strongly that this was one time that I needed to be totally hands-off in order to let his creativity to shine through. Instead, I just talked to him about his ides and let him watch me as I made my own pictures.

Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.

After a bit of frustration over the scalloped scissors not doing what he wanted, he settled in and really seemed to enjoy the “no rules” nature of the project, which is exactly what I hoped for.

Sometimes I get too involved in “helping” him with the projects that we do, and they turn into mine instead of his. But I want him to know that his ideas and creations are as valid and valuable as mine.

Here are some of our creations:

My sun

Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.

Little Man’s ocean
Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.My elephant
Bring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.Little Man’s fishBring your child's imagination to life and develop essential preschool skills by reading this simple, fun book and inviting your child to create their own artwork inspired by Perfect Square.

All in all, this was an extremely simple, yet rewarding, activity. It was a great way to develop and reading comprehension skills (predicting “what do you thing the square will become next?), to talk about shapes and colors, and to practice fine motor skills. Not to mention embracing the joy of bringing your imagination to life!

Even though I don’t think that Little Man consciously grasps the message of resilience and creativity in the book, I hope that the ideas are sinking into some corner of his mind and will resurface when he needs them later in life.

What are your favorite books to read with your kids? Do you have any fun preschool art activities that you’ve done along with reading them?

Bring your child's imagination to life and develop preschool art and literacy skills by using this simple, fun book to inspire your own creations.

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5 thoughts on “Perfect Square: An Artistic Literacy Lesson for Preschoolers

    1. Thanks, Morgan. As a former English teacher, I’m a bit of a book-a-holic (and book snob), so I get excited when I find really creative, clever books that I can share with my kiddos.

  1. I use this book every year for literacy, self-esteem building, art geometrics, and following directions while supporting fine
    motor. Michael Hall is amazing! He writes books that advocate for children’s rights in such simple ways!

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