Students at the Fletcher Elementary School celebrated International Dot Day during the first several weeks of school. While the official Dot Day takes place in mid-September, in recent weeks the students at the school have explored the concepts of creativity, kindness, uniqueness, and mindfulness through art.
The book, The Dot, by noted children’s author Peter Reynolds, chronicles the story of Vashti, a reluctant student artist whose teacher inspires her to have the confidence to be creative and different. Ultimately, Vashti becomes the artistic motivation for another student, paying forward the gift she received from her own art teacher. The book is the inspiration for International Dot Day.
“Students sometimes get stuck in a belief that they can’t be a great artist, that they are limited somehow. I want all students to know that they are only limited by their own mindset and their beliefs about themselves. The school environment needs to nurture creativity and individuality in students and the confidence to transfer those skills and beliefs across environments, Art Teacher MC Baker said. “Confident, caring and creative students who value diversity will carry those skills into adulthood and make the world a better place.”
Ms. Baker worked with kindergarten students to create mindfulness calming jars connected to the individual hopes and dreams students articulated for themselves for the year. Using jars filled with colored water, students added water-absorbing orbs to represent their goals. As the orbs expanded, students connected that growth with their own acquisition of new skills. Students also used iPads to manipulate 3-D dot art. Now, students use the mindfulness jars to help themselves focus and as a reminder of their hard work.
“The goal of the mindfulness jars is to help students begin to understand having a growth mindset,” Baker said. “It’s important that students, even from a young age, understand that being open to new ideas is important. When they practice this way of thinking during art, they are more open to all kinds of diversity at home and in the global community. Using the water-absorbing orbs is a great visual metaphor for this new learning.”
First through third graders focused on the word texture to create clay medallions that ultimately became wearable pendants. Using polymer clay to decorate the medallions, students spoke of the importance of taking risks and being brave, both in art and in life. Older students designed and created pens that were used to write graphic novels during writing.
Throughout the Dot Day study, students communicated with Reynolds, the author of the book, via Twitter.
“Peter Reynolds responded to us and let us know how much he appreciated the creative connections between his writing and our art,” Baker said. “Not only did this encourage our students to honor their ideas, but it also connected us to the global community of artists.”
“Dot Day is important because we learned to follow our dreams and be respectful of others’ dreams,” sixth-grader Logan King said. “You should follow your dreams and understand that other people have other dreams and ideas that are just as good as yours.”
Students’ artwork was on display for the school’s open house earlier this month. This year, 10,107,880 participants from 107 countries registered online to celebrate International Dot Day.