The Dot book by Peter H. Reynolds is my favorite way to kick off a year of art with my kindergarteners. Not just because September 15th is International Dot Day, but because it’s the perfect time for them to “mark your mark” in Art. It’s a time of limitless possibilities.
The Dot Book
We kick off the lesson by watching an online video of “The Dot” book which illustrates the story beautifully. The book is about a little girl named Vashti who thinks she can’t draw. Her teacher dares her to make a simple dot on her page and that sparks a series of dot-inspired artworks. As Vashti’s confidence increases, so does her creativity. And she invents a new kind of artwork called a “not-a-dot” in which she paints everywhere on the page except inside the dot. (For us art teacher we call this “negative space” but at this early in the school year, I don’t get into that with kindergarteners.) Vashti’s story is a wonderful lesson for children at any age.
The students really get into the visuals in The Dot book. The effect – watercolor coupled with an Andy Warhol-like blotted line drawing – is simple enough to draw their attention. The imperfect nature of the illustrations, I believe, convey a sense of familiarity to young children making it more engaging for them.
Making the Dot
Once we’ve watched the video, I ask the students to make a “dot” or a “not-a-dot” picture. It’s their choice. Because it’s kindergarten and you never know what you’re going to get, I demonstrate for them the concept of “dot” and “not a dot.” I invite students to come up and help me make mine on my enoboard. Then I hand them a piece of paper, crayons, and markers and off they go!
Now, I intentionally give them a small piece of paper because really folks, we’re only two days into kindergarten Art at this point. Their minds wander. Kindergarteners live for off-task behaviors. They’re like herding kittens. So I like to keep it small and simple. While the students are working, I put down random art materials and suggest they could add them to their dot. Some of these things include fuzzy pom poms, sequins, foam shapes, and yarn. Think simple!
Bulletin Board Ideas
While I only celebrate International Dot Day with my kindergarteners, I liked the idea of making a bulletin board display for my hallway that is inspired by The Dot book. I create all my bulletin board displays for the Fall at the end of the school year, so mine is up already (and covered for safe keeping).
To make my bulletin board, I designed a simple background with an outer space feel. I printed and cut out some of my back to school clipart tools to add a little sparkle. I also used the iconic flying pencil with wings graphic from the Dot Day website in making a giant 3D pencil which I intentionally aimed at a blank sheet of paper.
The message should be clear: we all start out with the same blank sheet of paper. It’s what we choose to do with it that separates us from others. If your confidence is low, start out with a simple mark, perhaps a dot, and see where it takes you!