Spring Activities With Miss Rumphius and a FREEBIE!

When March arrives, it sparks my inner joy - spring is just around the corner and somehow this fills me with hope!  Spring is my favorite time of year, as nature renews itself and we, too, look towards new beginnings!  Our classes come alive with engaging spring activities and colorful art work.

Without fail, I delve into my bookshelves and drag out my battered copy of Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney- no matter how many times I read it, I still get the same 'warm, fluffy' feeling of beauty and inspiration!

Image of lupines and thumbprint art work by first graders

This book has always been my first choice to introduce philosophical thinking to first graders.  There is a multitude of wonderful cross-curricular activities to explore, as well as an important message to learn.  The story can prompt wide-ranging discussions on a variety of topics including: dreams/goals, environmentalism, aging, travel and family bonds.   If you haven't read this book before, check out the summary below.


Miss Rumphius is the story of Alice Rumphius and her desire to do three things: live by the sea, go to faraway places and make the world a more beautiful place. This third desire is instilled in young Alice by her wise old grandfather, and is mostly what this special story is about. After Alice listens to her grandfather's stories of faraway places, Alice tells him she, too, will go to faraway places and she will eventually settle by the sea. Alice's grandfather responds that this is all well and good, but you must also do a third thing. "You must do something to make the world more beautiful."

After an account of Alice's job, travel and minor camel accident(!), the story moves on to depict the charming seaside town where Alice lives. Here Alice will do her Grandfather proud and start making the world more beautiful.  After a hard winter, Alice realizes that her lupines (a gorgeous flower of purple, blue and rose) have not only survived but spread, with a little help from the wind and the birds. Alice has her 'lightbulb' moment - she orders large quantities of the very best lupine seeds from the very best seed house. When the seeds arrive, Alice fills her pockets daily and scatters the seeds wherever she walks. Lupines flourish and prosper throughout the whole town, thus making her corner of the world a more beautiful place.

lupins image reading "Make the world more beautiful"

At the end of this story, Alice urges her great niece to also find her own way to make the world a more beautiful place.

As a reader or listener, we can't help but begin to think about what we can do to make the world a more beautiful place. Whatever we choose to do, whether it is planting trees or joining a group to clean up the countryside, each effort to make the world more beautiful makes a difference.


After the story has been read and discussed, I like to play a little PowerPoint quiz, just to check understanding, then we go straight to creating our own lupine art work, which can be seen in the first image.  (The PowerPoint quiz is a series of questions and answers - scroll to the download button at the end of this post to grab your very own free copy).

I begin with a smartboard presentation with lots of pictures of lupines. I have the students tell me what they notice about the flowers - colors, shapes, leaves, stems, etc. Though lupines are typically purple and blue, they can also be found in pink and white. A long, sturdy stem holds up pea-like flowers, which can grow up to 5 feet tall!

Each student gets a strip of thin cardstock and they cover this strip with a colored chalk background.  Next, using our pictures as reference, they paint the stem and leaves.  Then it's onto the thumbprints, which of course, students love!  They choose their colors, place their thumbprints, adding a smaller white thumbprint on top for depth.  When dry, we outline the petals with black marker for a bit of 'pop' - the finished effect is quite stunning!


1. Design and carry out a plan to make the world a more beautiful place. Ideas include cleaning up a park, planting flowers, and organizing a recycling effort.

2. Think of lots of examples of beauty in the world. Sort your ideas into different lists, such as natural things/man-made things or big/small or things to see/actions.

3. Think about what job you would like to do when you grow up. Research careers online and decide what careers will help make the world a better place.

4. Think about the places Miss Rumphius visited.  Discuss with a partner where you would visit to visit and why.

5. Design a seed packet for one kind of flower. Include labels, pictures, and descriptions.

6. Observe a flower carefully. Then do one or more of the following:
  • Use a ruler to measure it
  • Write a careful description of the flower
  • Draw a detailed picture of it
  • Write a poem about the flower using descriptions related to your senses.


You may also be interested in these spring activities for your students:



Click the image below to purchase the book. {affiliate}

Image of Miss Rumphius Book

Click on the image below to grab your free copy of the Comprehension Quiz.


  1. Hello, Hello! I Looooove Miss Rumphius! I read it every year. I always have my kids write a little sentence about how they would make the world beautiful. Your lupine art is gorgeous! And thumbprints! I'd never have thought of that. This will be a perfect back to school activity for me, writing the sentences but also making the lupines, and then we can make a big bulletin board garden. I'll have to find pictures though- I do not have a garden (and if I did- I certainly not a green thumb to help it grow).


  2. Hi Heather!,
    Thank you for your kind comments and follow. I will be off to check you out too! Lol! The children had a ball making the lupins! It was such a simple activity to do, but very effective. You should check out my Powerpoint - I used it as an introduction - there's a few pictures on there you might be able to use. I also put on pics of the leaves as they are so unusual. All in all, even if the presentation isn't great, the pics were a very useful visual. Just check through the posts until you find it, it's downloadable from here.
    Hope you can use it, thanks again! I have another follower - yay! ☺

  3. Wow! This is one of my alltime favorite picture books. I always read it on the last day and then ask my students what they are going to do to make the world a better place. (...and just like Aunt Alice, I tell them they may not know yet, but someday they will). Now I have a Powerpoint and art project to use with this book. Thank you!
    An Open Door

  4. Hi Camille!
    Aw, thank you for your comments! I hadn't heard of the book before - I suppose because it's popular in the USA and not Ireland! After coming across it through browsing blogs, I just had to find it. It's such a wonderful book and I was able to create a whole mini-topic round it. My children are just at the right age to appreciate the sentiment. It now has a permanent place on my planner! Hope you enjoy doing it as much as I did! ☺

  5. This is so pretty and different! Thank you for sharing this idea!
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post! I am really glad I have found your blog, you have a new follower!


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