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The Perfect Spot

The Perfect Spot


Author:  Robert J. Blake
ISBN:  0698114310

Summary:  Big, green trees and smooth, inviting shadows – surely, a little boy thinks, this is the perfect spot.  Or this spot here by the red salamander?  Or maybe this spot by the footbridge?  But the boy’s artist father keeps wanting to move on; none of the boy’s choices is right for him.  Finally, in the middle of the woods, an unexpected turn of events leads both father and son to the spot they’ve been looking for all along, and a happy discovery about themselves as well.



Unit prepared by Jodi Small




Easel – a frame for supporting something (as an artist's canvas)

Canvas – a piece of cloth used as a surface for painting

Scene – a view or sight that looks like a picture

Glen – a narrow hidden valley

Footbridge – a bridge for pedestrians

Snuck – to go about in a sly or secret manner

Gear – the articles serving to equip a person or thing

Soaker – to lie covered with a liquid

Poked – to search over or through usually without purpose



Parent/Child Relationship

The father looked for an opportunity to spend time with his son one-on-one.  He allowed him to go with him to work.  At the beginning, the father doesn’t seem to want to spend any quality time with his son looking at the treasures he finds.  He is only concerned with finding the perfect spot to paint.  In the end, when then son falls into the creek and subsequently the father does as well, the father realizes that playing with his son is just as important as his painting.  Had they not fallen into the creek, they may not have found the perfect spot.  In reality, it was not the perfect spot until they had bonded together.


Careers – Artists

Talk about what artists use for their works. (List of possible mediums:  acrylic, watercolor, oil paints.)  Also, what kinds of things artists paint.  (List of possible subjects: portraits, landscapes, still life, murals.)  Portraits include people in the paintings.  Landscapes are pictures of nature.  Still life can be just about anything set up on a table or platform for the artist to paint.  Examples include: fruit bowls, flowers in a vase, pottery, etc.  Murals are large paintings that cover an entire wall.  They usually include many different pictures all having the same theme.


If your student is interested, spend some time learning about famous artists this week.

Famous Artists:

Leonardo da Vinci – The Last Supper and Mona Lisa

Vincent van  Gogh – The Starry Night

Michelangelo – ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Pablo Picasso


Or if there are any artists close to your hometown, you could research one and possibly take a field trip to meet one.



Nature Study

The boy and his father go for a walk in the woods.  The boy is looking for insects and animals to examine.  The father is looking for a nice landscape to paint.  Towards the end after they have both fallen into the creek, they sit quietly together on a rock and see animals coming up to drink.  Stress the importance of quietness to observe nature.  Your young student may enjoy a reading of Play With Me by Mary Hall Ets.

Egg Carton Nature Walk Idea

Nature Study Basics



95% of all the animal species on the earth are insects.  The largest group is the beetles.

All insects must have:

- three body parts - a head, thorax, and abdomen

- six jointed legs

- two antennae to sense the world around them

- an exoskeleton (outside skeleton)

Label an Insect Printable

The insects from the book are:

Unicorn beetle – one of the two species of rhinoceros beetles found in the south of the United States


Sphinx caterpillar – Also known as the hornworm.  The caterpillar changes into the Sphinx moth (Hawk moth or the Carolina Sphinx moth)


Ambush bug – Adult range from 4 to 40 mm. They have an elongated head with a distinct narrowed neck, long legs, and a proboscis. Most are dark in color.


Amphibians (frogs, salamander)

Amphibians are animals that begin their life in the water, breathing with gills. As they grow, they breathe air using lungs, and many move to the land. Some amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.

Salamander Printable
Frog Printable

You may want to read (or revisit) The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer with your student. 



A waterfall is usually a geological formation resulting from water, often in the form of a stream, flowing over a rock formation (like a mountain) that falls to a river below. 


Famous Waterfalls

Victoria Falls in Africa - a waterfall situated in southern Africa between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are, by some measures, the largest waterfall in the world, as well as being among the most unusual in form


Niagara Falls in Canada- a set of massive waterfalls located on the Niagara River, straddling the international border separating the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York




A shadow is formed by a light source behind an opaque object.  In nature, there are many shadows to observe, especially when the sun is out.  In the woods, each tree, rock, and hill will result in a shadow.  The father in the story had obviously taught his son that lots of shadows make a good painting. 


Go outside on a sunny day and see how many shadows you can find.  Try to draw (or paint) and tree with the shadow beside it. 



Count the number of deer that come out when they sat quietly in the water.



How do we learn about God?  God reveals Himself.  And where does God reveal Himself?  In His Word and in nature.   As you take time with your child to be outdoors and to observe the creation, point your child to the Creator! 


Romans 1:20--
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Psalm 19:1-3--
"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard."

How can we apply Psalm 46:11 to nature study?  Discuss with your student.  "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."



Take a walk with your child and try to see things from their viewpoint.  Look at each flower, bug, leaf, crack in the sidewalk, cloud, car, animal, etc with him/her.  Listen to the sounds.  Maybe you’ll here a distant woodpecker, or a frog.  What about the wind blowing through the leaves?  Remember, it is important to stay quiet while observing nature.

Library List
The Quiet Way Home by Bonnie Becker
I Am An Artist by Pat Lowery Collins
The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
Play With Me by Mary Hall Ets
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl
Nature's Art Box by Laura C. Martin (65 cool projects for crafty kids)



Shortbread recipe



  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour salt and rosemary until well blended. The dough will be somewhat soft. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees F). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rectangles 1 1/2x2 inches in size. Place cookies 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.