Angel Blake May 7, 2021 Dot to Dot
This Saturday marked the fifth annual International Dot Day, a day dedicated to encouraging students creativity and inspiring confidence. Classrooms around the globe have been celebrating this and last week with unique activities such as dot art, musical "sound dots," and using dots to help teach maps and math. Dot Day was started by teacher Terry Shay in Waterloo, Iowa, to celebrate the publication of Peter H. Reynolds childrens book "The Dot"; the book shares the story of a young girl named Vashti who is encouraged by her teacher to "make her mark." In the story, Vashti tries to prove to her teacher that she cannot draw by making a small mark on the paper while declaring, "There!"-Vashtis art teacher then encourages her to be brave and use her imagination to see where this dot could take her.
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I quickly put away the jar, vinegar, and baking soda and moved on to another exercise and another and another. At the end of each mindfulness class, I conclude with the same exercise: lying on your stomach and drawing your happy place. As soon as I announce that we are going to be doing the mindful drawing, they excitedly drop to their tummies and wiggle with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning. I pass out the fresh white paper and a can containing shards of crayons. The second their crayons hit the paper, you can hear a pin drop. There is no goofing around, there is no talking, but there is complete mindfulness. For fifteen minutes, they will draw, colour, and become immersed in their creation. Of course the real magic is not what is happening on the paper but rather what is happening in their mind. They are thinking about their happy place and then making it happen on paper - perfect mindfulness. It is the same as when we use guided visualization to enter into meditation.
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The event is inspiring creativity in the classroom worldwide: many teachers are reading Reynolds book aloud to their class, while some have been giving out certificates and dot candy as prizes. Elementary teacher Melissa Black is having her fourth graders use Pointillism (working with primary and secondary colors) and tiny dots to make paintings. She had her younger students start their artwork by gluing a paper dot of any size and color onto a piece of paper and learning to use the dot as a part of a bigger picture. Music teacher Judy Holloway is "Making Music with Dots" in her classes. She planned to use the notion of "sound dots" to relay basic lessons about rhythmic and melodic dictation while making the lessons fun and easy for her young students. "Third graders made colorful rhythmic patters and second grade wrote Do Re Mi on staff paper," Holloway wrote. "First grade will take colored markers and respond to music that is staccato (dots!) and legato by drawing designs on the whiteboard." Other teachers are having their students dot the equator and prime meridian on a map while they learn about latitude, longitude and other map skills. Some math teachers are using brightly colored dots in their lessons on arrays. In the computer lab, students are using Paint for Windows to discover where their dot takes them. Teachers are also sharing their plans with other teachers on the web; some are using Skype in the classroom and others are posting their ideas to the International Dot Day Facebook page.
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