On September 16, our school celebrated International Dot Day. Like many schools around the world, we read The Dot by Peter Reynolds and began to think of ways for us to “leave our mark.” We looked closely at the dots we could find around us. Some children explored rocks, beads and shells. Others painted and some drew. After a day or two of exploration, I presented the children with a question about which dots they liked best. Noticing the balls of yarn, the students were eager to share their connections.
A – “I know what these are! They’re 3-D!”
Mr. P. – “What is 3-D?”
A – “I see it at the video store.”
R – “It means, not flat.”
We took a survey and discovered that most students in our class liked 3-D dots best. Thinking about Dot Day, I asked the students if they would like to create some 3-D dots. They immediately agreed, but we had a problem. How do we make 3-D dots?
M – “Maybe we can wrap up paper and put it on a stick and roll it.”
O – “Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! We can use string?”
Mr. P. – “How would we use it?”
A – “Just roll it round and round.. .Maybe we can take something like a circle and wrap string over it.”
The next day, balloons, yarn, and glue were available to the students so they could test “A’s” theory of “rolling it round and round.” I have to admit, this was an optimistic project for the beginning of Grade 1. The students were very excited to get their hands in the glue and begin wrapping yarn around their balloons. They soon discovered that this was not a very easy task. Some became frustrated because it was too slippery, or they couldn’t get their yarn to stay put. Some wanted to give up. Here was a perfect opportunity for a lesson in perseverance. I asked the children to stop and come together for a group meeting. They took a break, identified some of the problems they were having and shared some possible solutions.
The short break and discussion was just what they needed. When they returned to their work, they were engaged and focused. With a little assistance, those who wanted to give up were determined to complete their task. And they did.
The students learned the meaning of perseverance that day. The creative process is messy. It can be frustrating, exhilarating and inspiring. As I reflect on this I realize there is always a lesson to be learned. Our dot project continues to evolve. The students are discovering different dots, engaging with different media and materials, and are developing unique ways to “leave their mark” through their own creative processes.