In 2013-14, Garland ISD began a five-year process of introducing a dedicated art class at all elementary campuses. Studies have shown that art is important in child development, enhancing motor skills, language, decision making and inventiveness. At Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence, art is also helping students recognize our diverse society. The campus recently observed International Dot Day for the first time, an event that highlighted the uniqueness of every child and adult.
“After reading Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, students were asked to create an original dot on a single Post-It Note. We even asked teachers and staff to get in on the project,” said art teacher Kathleen Hodges. “I used the dots to create an all-school dot mural in our art hallway. As the mural took shape, conversations increased.”
Students and teachers stopped in the hallway to study and compare dots. Once the mural was complete, classes then discussed and critiqued the mural.
“Classes noticed that even though everyone was given the same set of directions, all dots were very different,” Hodges stated. “Each dot was original—as original as the person who made it. Some dots were simple, some decorative."
Fourth-grader Oriane Larios’ dot reflected an important aspect of her life.
“Dot Day was really fun,” the nine-year-old said. “I made a dot that had a cross in it. I like reading the Bible a lot, so that is why I made a cross. I learned that the dot you made represents who you are. Everybody is unique, and I thought that was very interesting.”
In addition to learning about diversity and acceptance, the event culminated in a fun, dot-filled dress-up day.
“It was great to see staff and students participate in wearing dots to school. Students painted T-shirts and sewed pompoms onto their clothing,” Hodges detailed. “We had loads of fun. And, we learned that we are all original and have creative talents to share with the world.”
Seeing its impact on children and adults alike, Hodges believes International Dot Day was a success. She plans to observe it again next year.
“Engaging kids and adults in the creative process is extremely important. Connections are made when an individual can internalize information and conceptualize it in a new way. This is how problems are solved. This is what ignites creativity and ingenuity. This is the highest form of thinking. This is why we celebrate arts in education.”