Of all the Art Picture books, “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds is my absolute favorite. Not only does it teach the creative process and how art evolves through creation, but it teaches the reader about Growth Mindset and perception. The teacher in the story teaches Vashti about not giving up and just starting with a mark to see where it takes her (and what a journey Vashti goes on!).
This is a wonderful lesson not only to do for “Dot Day”, but you can do it as a Back to School Activity and Growth Mindset activity as well. It is also a great activity if you are teaching a “Transform” lesson with Adrienne Gear’s Reading Power series. This is a fun activity that transforms a bulletin board quickly.
Creating Dots for Dot Day
A while ago, Peter H. Reynolds had a book contest to allow buyers the chance to win a signed dot created by the artist himself. This inspired me to allow students to create their own watercolor dots where they start with a dot and see where it takes them: of course, they need to sign it!
Cut card stock paper or other thicker paper such as watercolor paper into small squares. You can choose to have them all the same size, or, if you’re like me, just cut them into square-ISH shapes (teehee!). Give each student a square piece of paper. On the tables, have a bucket of water for each group to share and watercolor paint/paint cakes. If you don’t have those, you can always let them use tempera paints, or for a watercolor effect, water down the tempera paints in small containers.
First, you should demonstrate how you do your own dot. This will also allow you the opportunity to explain painting tips and rules (dip in water, touch to side of bucket to get extra water off, swirl 3 times in paint, no scrubbing the paint with the brush….). Explain to your students that they should select a color they want to start with and make a dot with it on their paper. This way, they are “starting with a dot” just like in the book.
Next, you should demonstrate how now…. “your going to see where it takes you”, similar to the book. This is also a good moment to talk about Growth Mindset with your students. If you want more information about Growth Mindset, check out my blog post with more great tips on how to introduce Growth Mindset in your classroom.
Begin show how you pick different colors and add them in rings around your first dot. You can also make patterned rings or add line too. Remind them that they are the artist of their dot and this is an opportunity for them to experiment and be creative. When they’re done, explain they should leave it at their table until it is dry (which shouldn’t be long with paint cakes or watercolor paints).
Once dry, have your students Sign it!
Once they’re all done, hang it up for a beautiful display. Photocopy pages from the book and add paint to it for color to create signs and graphics for the wall. This makes a quick Back to School or Dot Day display!