September 5, 2013

Make Your Mark on International Dot Day!

Have you heard about International Dot Day? It's celebrated on September 15th, and it's all about encouraging kids to discover how they can make a difference. Why is it called "Dot Day"? To find out, read the book that inspired this special day!

The Dot, written by Peter Reynolds, is a short picture book suitable for all ages. It's the story Vashti, who became upset in art class because she didn't think she could draw. Her teacher challenged her to "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." So Vashti defiantly jabbed the paper and made a dot, and what happened after that shows how one simple act can snowball into something big.

If you haven't read the book, you can listen to a quick YouTube video of it before you read this post. If you like it, order a copy of The Dot now so you'll have it in time for Dot Day!

The Dot is a simple book, but it's definitely one with a message to share. Actually, it has several important messages. Children will be able to relate to the central theme about "making a mark" and making a difference. As a teacher, I was also reminded about how important it is for us to support our students and believe in them. Vashti's teacher honored her simple dot by framing the signed picture, and this small bit of encouragement was enough to help Vashti discover a hidden talent.

International Dot Day Resources
I had heard from several friends about International Dot Day, so after I read The Dot, I began looking for resources online to support this event. Boy, did I find them! Peter Reynolds is the founder of Fablevision Learning, and they've created a website full of resources for teachers to use when reading the book to students and celebrating Dot Day. The best place to begin is the "Getting Started" page, and from there you can follow a link to a page where you can download this amazing free Educator's Handbook. It's 16 pages long and includes a letter of introduction from Peter Reynolds and a great collection of ideas for celebrating International Dot Day. Here are some other ideas to get you started.

Ideas for Celebrating Dot Day or Dot Week:
  • Read The Dot and discuss the themes in the book with your students. To help foster this discussion, I created a set of eight free prompts on task cards that you can to use as a jumping off point for discussion. Don't feel you need to use them all; look through the set to find the ones that are appropriate for your students. You may want discuss them in a whole group setting first, and you can use them as writing prompts later or have students use them in small groups with the Talking Sticks discussion strategy. Click the image below or this link to download these free discussion cards.
  • Use some of the suggestions in the Educator's Handbook to have students create dot artwork individually or with a group. Since I'm a big fan of cooperative learning, I especially liked the Buddy Dot idea on page 9. What a unique idea!
  • Participate in Skype in the Classroom activities for Dot Day. See page 13 in the Educator's Handbook for details.
  • Use Technology to Animate Dot Drawings - If you have an iPad with a camera, students can use technology to bring their colored dot drawings to life. Read this blog post about the free ColAR app that can transform 2D coloring pages into 3D animations. It's absolutely amazing, and I know that students will love seeing their own artwork transformed this way! Be sure to watch the short video demonstration to see how it works. The app is free and the Dot Day coloring page is free, too. 

More Dot Day Ideas from Suzy Brooks
Third grade teacher Suzy Brooks has been celebrating International Dot Day for several years. She's now an ambassador for Fablevision Learning because she enjoys spreading the word about their inspirational resources. Visit her blog, Third Graders Dreaming Big, to read about her celebrations in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and see her terrific classroom photos. She promises to write about her celebration this year after it takes place because she wants to be able to include photos the activities in her post. If you have celebrated this event in the past or have special plans for celebrating it this year, please share your tips and strategies with us. It's one small way you can make your mark!


  1. I'm a teacher librarian and have heard but never celebrated Dot Day. Trying to think of fun and exciting ways to incorporate this into our school and the ideas are just flying through my mind. thanks

    1. What did you do last year in your library for this day?!?! I'm planning for this year and would love some ideas!


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