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The Dot by Peter Reynold is a wonderful book to read. And reread. And be inspired by.

It reminds us of some very important principles:
• everyone has a mark to leave on the world
• effort should be celebrated
• art is inclusive
• encouragement is contagious

summary  Vashti thinks that she can't draw.  Her art teacher gently asks her to make a dot on her paper, and sign it.  Next class, Vashti sees her dot, framed, above her teacher's desk.  It inspires her to make better dots, bigger dots, coloured dots, un-dots, and to see herself as an artist.

My favourite of Vashti's dots is her "undot". 

We looked at the "undot" together and talked about how Vashti did not paint a dot.  We decided to make undots too.  

Negative space is a hard concept for kindergarten kids. 

I figured that they might need a little help.

Mactac to to the rescue.

I cut out a bunch of Mactac dots and stuck them on half an 8 1/2 by 11" paper (heavier bond than photocopy paper - in a perfect  (and budget free) world, I would use watercolour paper).

The kids chose a paper with a dot - and headed to the paints.

We used puck style tempera paints. I have them set up on the tables by colour, and the kids move themselves and their papers to the colours that they want to use.

I love observing how children operate as artists.

Some are very controlled and precise.

Some artists are random and spontaneous. 

Some artists have a definite plan in mind. 

Some artists have a plan, and constantly adapt it. 

After the paint was dry, we peeled off the mactac circle, leaving an unpainted undot on the paper. 

The artists signed their work, and we framed them in swirly gold. 

Each piece of art, reminding us that everyone has something to contribute - everyone has a mark to make.

Make your mark - you never know where it will take you.


Our first job as a new class, is to create community. 

To define who we are. What we do. What we hope to do.  Why we do it.

Books help us.

10 books on which to build community.

This is the second time that I have participated in this August celebration of picture books. 

Last time, I shared my list of 10 quirky books I enjoy reading with my kindergarten class.  

10 books for that help define who we are as a community

A Family is a Family is a Family
written by Sara O'Leary
illustrated by Qin Leng
We all come to our school community from our families. Each family is different. And each family is to be validated and valued. 

There is a Tribe of Kids
written and illustrated by Lane Smith
At school, we find our "tribe of kids".  

Read more about There is a Tribe of Kids

I Wonder
written by Annaka Harris 
illustrated by John Rowe
"When we don't know something, we get to wonder about it." 
May we never believe that there is nothing left to wonder about. 

The Darkest Dark
written by Chris Hadfield
illustrated by The Fan Brothers
Somethings there are things that scare us - but we can still wonder the biggest wonders, dream the biggest dreams and plan the biggest plans. 

created by Aaron Becker
Imagination (wonder) can take us on amazing adventures. All you need is a magic door drawn by a red crayon. The first of a trilogy. A wordless book. 

It's Okay to Make Mistakes
written and illustrated by Todd Parr
It really is okay to make mistakes. It's one of the ways that we learn.

written and illustrated by Katheryn Otoshi
Hoping to build the capacity for each of us to be the one person that might be needed to stand for fairness, equality and what is right.

Step Outside
written and illustrated byDoretta Groenendyk
A celebration of getting out of our chairs, and outside to connect with each other and nature. 

written and illustrated by Leo Lionni
When big things come and try and swallow you up, it's always better to work together and swim with a herd. 

Pete the Cat
written by Eric Litwin
illustrated by James Dean
Pete goes through life, living in and appreciating each moment. Hopefully we can go through our year, singing our song. 

All the #pb10for 10 lists are posted on a Google Community site.

happy reading


Flat Pete felt in need of a new adventure. 

He jumped into my daughter Anna’s backpack and hitched a ride on her trip to Southeast Asia. 

This is the year that snails caught our curiosity and imagination.

Their shells are delightfully fascinating. And the way they move - cool.  And their antennae.

Once our curiosity was piqued, there was so much learning to uncover.
One of our first and most important goals in our kindergarten class is to become a community. A community that everyone belongs to. Equally. A community that celebrates both that which we have in common, and the things that make us different and unique. A community that is curious, and brave enough to explore new ideas and skills. A community that cares for each other, and cheers each other on. A group of kids that belong together.

You know how the universe sometimes nudges you to do something, change something.

For the last few years I have been taking things out of my classroom. Making it more simple, fewer colors, less clutter.  I want the kids and their work to be the focal point, and the classroom "decor" to be the background.  A background that supports independence, curiosity, imagination and learning.

This summer, I knew it was time for my classroom alphabet line to change to something more organic, more simple, more natural.

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