September 15th is International Dot Day… or September 15th “ish,” as the International Dot Day website says. This is a day set aside to celebrate creativity and collaboration using Peter Reynold’s book “The Dot.“
I have designed four easy Dot Day activities to do with kids in the classroom. I hope that you enjoy these as much as we did. You can also download these instructions as a free PDF lesson plan HERE. Please know that I have included some links to supplies I personally use in this blog post that are Amazon affiliate links. You can see my disclosure HERE.
To start our celebration, I first read Peter’s book to a group of 2nd graders. Then we talked about the book and its meaning.
To inspire our creativity, I developed four pretty open Dot Day activities. You can choose to do all four the way we did, or choose one or two of them that stand out to you! I created stations/centers where students could do each project in a rotation – eventually working through all four stations/centers.
In the end, we displayed all of our “dots” along with a poster we made to celebrate our creativity and collaboration! I had students go through all stations, but if you are running a choice-based classroom or experimenting with it, you could let students choose which stations they want to participate in.
To do all four Dot Day activities as centers…
Divide your class into four groups and set an amount of time that students will stay at their first station. Then, when you are ready, have all the kids rotate to another station. I usually have them rotate either clockwise or counter-clockwise (between tables).
If this is the first time you are doing rotating centers in your classroom, carefully explain and model the centers to your students. I have students point to their next center before they move. That way, when everyone gets up and moves, I can be sure they all know where they are going. This has worked for me with grades all the way down to kindergarten.
Make sure you model it and explain it. Once you’ve done it with your students, they will know how to do it in the future.
Dot Day Activities: Salt & Watercolor Paint
This station is great for so many reasons. But one, in particular, is your ability to connect to science lessons you might have done on salt and absorption of water.
Students will first use watercolors to paint a dot onto thick watercolor paper (card stock is okay). I like to use liquid watercolors to get a lot of water onto their paper. Also, I like to give students two colors that will mix well together.
This time, I gave them red and yellow to create beautiful shades of orange, much like the dot on the cover of Peter’s book.
Once students paint the dot, they will want to take a small pinch of salt and sprinkle it into the wet areas of the dot. If the dot has dried too much, have your students either add water or more paint to get little pools of water.
Then when students sprinkle the salt into the water, they can watch as the salt absorbs the water. When it dries, the effects will be somewhat crystallized.
Children shouldn’t use too much salt. I poured it out into a small container and told them that was all we had for the entire class. They were great about not using too much since we had talked about it.
Dot Day Activities: Crayon Resist
You will need white crayons, watercolor paints, watercolor brushes, and thick paper (watercolor paper is ideal). Students will first draw dots using the white crayon. They can do either a large one with designs/patterns in it or several small ones.
After students have drawn with the white crayon, then they will paint over the crayon. The wax from the crayon sits on the paper, and it will resist the paint and create a very fun, sort of magical, experience for the kids (this part is nicely demonstrated in the video above).
Dot Day Activities: Make a Dot by NOT Making a Dot
In the book, there is a part where the main character Vashti makes a dot by “not” making a dot. She uses the negative space of the canvas to create the dot and paints around the edges.
I created a center where I told students to create a dot by “not” making a dot. Instead, they used the negative space of the background paper and little torn pieces of paper to create the dot.
I chose two paper colors to keep this simple. You could do many things here. Students could tear paper out of magazines or use scrap paper they have saved from other projects.
Have students tear pieces of paper and glue them down using a glue stick to create a dot by “not” making a dot. Warning—this station tends to take longer than the others. I recommend giving students a small piece of paper. When you rotate students from one station to another, ask them to leave any pieces they have already torn. This will help the next group.
Dot Day Activities: Make Your Mark Poster
Now don’t be shy—for this station, you’ll want to be creative. You are going to make a poster that says “Make Your Mark.” For this, I used a piece of paper 18″ x 24.” Then I drew the bubble letters and the swirly frame around the edge like this…
Feel free to copy my design or make up one of your own. If you aren’t comfortable free-hand drawing the letters, you could always use bulletin board letters. Or ask one of your creative students to do this for you. This was the fourth station that children rotated through.
The instructions here were pretty simple—students were to use markers to create a “dot” of any size, shape, or color. They could add designs if they wanted—or not —their choice.
The only real “rule” was that they needed to leave room for their classmates to add their dots to the poster. After all four groups had rotated through this center, we were left with a beautiful poster full of each student’s own “mark.”
When students finish all four stations/centers, and their work has dried, hang up the poster. You can also add individual dot paintings around it like this…
Makes for a great, student-centered classroom display.
Thanks for reading and making art with your kiddos!