Dots & Matter – Art & Science

I have been teaching Family Inventors’ Lab – a STEAM enrichment class for ages 3 – 6 – for seven years now, including last year online. My colleagues have been teaching Creative Arts Lab for decades, including last year online. This year, we are offering an Online Art & Science Lab which blends the two classes. Merging them is leading to some really fun mixes of ideas.

Our first lesson was an art lesson on Dots. During class, we talked about the first most basic element of a drawing or a painting – when you make that one dot mark on your paper. We talked about making little dots, big dots, different colors of dots, dots far apart or clustered close together. Dots as a random design, or dots to make a picture of something. We talked a little about how a ballpoint pen may make a tiny dot, a crayon or marker a bigger dot, a fat paintbrush makes an even bigger dot. Another fun extension would be to take a paintbrush soaked in watercolor and touch it to porous paper (or a q-tip dipped in liquid watercolor and touched to a coffee filter) and watch the color wick outwards, making the dot bigger and bigger.

After class, I offered two video extensions of the learning, which are both called Pointillism for Kids. This one talks a little about pointillism and shows several artworks – the speaking style / level is a little mature for our kids, but it would be fine for a parent and child to watch together where the parent could help point things out in the video… then it has a suggested artwork where the child traces their arm to make a tree trunk, and then uses colorful dots to make a fall foliage tree. This video is long but has a nice slow pacing, so the child can just work along as they watch it it. The artist shows how to use dots to make a scene, and how if you put different colors of dots near each other (like red and yellow) it can create a color blending as that part of the page appears orange.

The pointillism videos illustrate the idea that with LOTS of dots all added together, we can make a more complex art work.

Our science topic for the second week will be matter – the idea that little tiny bits (atoms) make up everything we see around us. This video is a nice transition between the two ideas, as it talks about how many atoms you can find in the tip of a pencil. Atoms: the Building Blocks of Matter:

More Cool Stuff about Dots

We read the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Here is a video of the story. (Or here’s a video where you can see the words of the story, if you want to read along.)

Here is a video of the author, Peter Reynolds, talks kids through a drawing activity making art from dots. And here is a song with motions to go along with the book.

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