Thursday, September 11, 2014

In the Art Room: A String-Stitched Dot for Dot Day!

So all my students, kinder-town through 4th-grade-land, are participating in International Dot Day. I know several of you art teacherin' peeps are doing the same, amiright? I have absolutely loved dreaming up projects that I hope (fingers and toes crossed) have been artistic, creative, unique and inspiring (our feature Word(s) of the Week for these first four weeks of school). I'll give you a sneak peak of all our projects at the end of the week with complete lessons to come. In the meantime, lemme introduce you to my favorite dot lesson to date, the String-Stitched Dot!
Dude. After seeing this 4th grader's stitched design I've decided I wanna create a stitched color wheel! Doesn't this one totally remind you of that? I love his pattern.
I gave the kids three design options to choose from with the freedom to play with those ideas, change 'em and make them their own. I love how this artist used symmetry and color to create a sunset-esque  stitch. 
One of the ideas the kids could stitch was one we called "rotating squares". This was not an easy design to stitch but once you got the hang of it, it went by in a flash. None of the kids wanted to stop stitching so many of them thought of ways to enhance that design idea. I liked how Tony found a way to stitch a circle around this squares. 
For this lesson, we used the following:
* 10" X 10" cardboard (I did a lil dumpster diving for those)
* Paint and brushes (because the cardboard looked like, well, cardboard. We had to jazz it up.)
*  Florescent yarn (because this here art teacher is currently on an '80's kick, can ya tell?)
* Tapestry needles (what big eyes you have! The better to thread you with, my dear.)
* Stitching template (so we all end up with the same 16 evenly spaced lines)
* Masking tape

On our very first day of art, after covering all this biznatch, the kids painted their pieces of cardboard, "thickly and quickly". Meaning, since they had the option of using texture combs, they needed to make sure the paint was thick and wet as the comb can only rake the surface and create super cool textures when it is. Then I gave the kids of using florescent paint to add some splatters as, let's be honest, splatter painting is super rad. AND makes the first day of art just about the best thing everrrrr.
On our second day of art, after our Word of the Week/Artist Inspiration routine, we had to prep our board for stitching. For that, I gave the kids these old coffee container lids with 16 evenly spaced notches drawn with silver Sharpie. The kids were to make sure the circle was placed 2" from the top/bottom and sides (well, hello thar, math connection!) before tracing it and drawing tick marks for the notches. 
Once done with that, the kids were given such dangerous art supplies as push pins and needles. 
With the push pins, the kids put the initial holes in their boards where the notches were drawn. Because they'd be stitching with thick tapestry needles, I then had them go back and push the needles through the board to make the notches even bigger. From there, the kids had to start plotting their design...
For this, they got a worksheet. Yay, worksheets! They had to complete the directions of each design ("even if I don't want the other designs?!" YES. DO. IT. RIGHT. MEOW.) They were also given the option to come up with their own ideas, or mix and match the ones I suggested, on the right. 
To best explain this process, I created a lil video clip. There are several steps so I hope I'm making some sort of sense. I showed the kids the steps to stitching ALL three of these designs that way they could feel free to pick and choose/mix and match once they were on their own. 
And now! For a Totally Inappropriate Short Story!
Gather 'round friends, this one's a gem:

So, on that very first day of stitching, when I'm walking the kids through the steps, I thought it might be less confusing for them if I referred each of the 16 holes in their stitching board as a letter. This way they could remember stuff like, "I stitch from A to B, from A to C, back to A then to D", for 'zample. However, whilst in the midst of teaching, I may or may not have mistakenly said this several times (unbeknownst to my innocent babies!): 

"You first start at the A-hole. Then you go to the B-hole. Return to the A-hole. REMEMBER! If you are doing a radiating design, you always return to the A-hole."

And I think it was the phrase always return to the A-hole that actually stopped me mid-breath and caused a rash of red to creep over my face. My mind started racing: did I just say the words A-hole to my kids, not once but several times, and neither me nor the kids noticed?! If I don't call it A-hole, what  DO I call it? The "A-Spot"? What happens when we get to the letter G?! OMGeee, what am I gonna do?!

And it was then that we began to refer to the notches as numbers. And all was A-hole-free in art land. WHEW.
I gotta say, the kids loved this project. Especially my boys. Which I don't find that surprising as they are always the ones that love any weaving projects we do. It's that working-with-my-hands/math-mind that makes them adore these types of things. Is that sexist? Maybe. Is it true? Yes.
A coupla kids found ways to incorporate their initial in the design. This one kills me ask it looks like the symbol for Anarchy...and this sweet child is the furthest thing from a punky-Anarchist. 
I love how this artist played with our school colors to create her design.
And there you have it! A String-Stitched Dot for Dot Day! Do you think this is a project that you'd give a go in your art room? I do believe your kids would dig it.
For our display, I decided to connect the boards together with a coupla paperclips. I love how they look as a group...ready for Dot Day!

And what are you up to for Dot Day? I'd love to know what your kids are creating so puh-lease share, y'all! 


  1. Just gorgeous - can't wait to try these myself. Now, back to the A-hole... :)

  2. Number the holes rather than using letters for labels.... A hole lol

  3. Love. (Both the project and the story.)

  4. Oh my gosh, my husband just had to ask me what I was cracking up about from the other room. Love the dots! :)

  5. Anonymous9/12/2014

    This is perfect. I will be 'fibre arting' with my 9 and 10 year olds in a week. I love the instructions. Thanks.

  6. This one I'll have to try with my seventh graders. They loved weaving last year and have already been asking if they can use yarn again this year. Of course, with middle schoolers, I'll have to mind my use of the letter A...guess I'll stick with numbers for the holes!

  7. Cassie you are such an inspiration! The projects are beautiful, your video tutorial priceless and your enthusiasm for teaching art is inspiring! Thanks, Girlfriend!

  8. Fantastic idea! Thank you for the detailed instructions.

  9. Anonymous9/15/2014

    Dear Cassie,
    First may I say I love, love, love your blog. I love fiber art and needle felting. Also, I'm a retired art teacher.
    I also used a folded piece of paper to thread a needle with my classes. I have a suggestion for anchoring the thread to the needle: 1) Turn the needle parallel to the long end of the yarn. 2) Pierce the center of the yarn. 3) Hold the needle in one hand and the two yarn ends in the other. 4) Pull the strings like ringing a bell.
    This will hold the needle in place 9 out of ten times with knot. Try it out.I used it all the time when I was teaching.

  10. This a a fantastic post. Thank you!

  11. How fabulous!! I am definitely going to try these dots in my next Aboriginal Art. Where did you get the idea for these pretty dots art? Can I also use this dot painting with Aboriginal art?

  12. Can I be in your art class? It looks like so much fun!!! I am not an Art teacher but I am "teaching" art in my schools after-school "YES!" program. I have just found your site on Pinterest. I will be back often to get new ideas.

  13. HI Cassie Brilliant idea. Thanks for all your fantastic posts, I love them.

  14. Anonymous3/10/2015

    You are a great inspiration. Luv your sense of humor. I am so going to get a spring drum for noise level control. I teach K-5 Art. I really appreciate your posts. You have super ideas and help me to remember to not be so serious.

  15. Fantastic spin on string art! I so needed a new angle (lol) on this!!! thanks!
    love your humor.

  16. Hi, Cassie. Love the Dot Day project. FYI, you can order FOR FREE boxes from and they'll ship them to your school. No dumpster diving! (Unless of course you enjoy that). The cardboard they're made of is a little thinner than regular corrugated cardboard, but it works great for all kinds of cardboard project.

  17. Anonymous8/20/2015

    Hey Cassie! What kind of yarn did you use? Like what weight was it? It looks pretty thin, almost like embroidery floss. Thanks!

  18. Hey Cassie, did you say you bought pizza rounds from School Specialty or something once...? I'm dying trying to find these..... haha. I had some in my class leftover from a previous art teacher and they looked professionally bought/not handmade/hand-cut sooo I can't find them and I've called both School Specialty and United Arts and Education. . . . help ? Thanks!

    1. Dear Cassie,
      As always - brilliant and hilarious!
      I did a unit of work on what I called "line designs" a few years back with grade 5 which i had forgotten about until your post reminded me of it. They loved it so I must pull it out again for next year. We started with drawing up the line designs on photocopied angle or circle worksheets and used rulers and brightly coloured gel pens. It was fantastic drawing a straight line with a ruler practise for kids that really needed it!!! The finished gel pen designs were gorgeous and the students cut them out and mounted them onto a piece of coloured cover paper for display. they then looked like the magnificent artworks that they were instead of a workshheet! The range of ways they were displayed on a rectangle of cover paper was amazing in itself. The students then went on to stitch a line design on cover paper using metallic thread. Some chose one of the paper angle or circle designs done previously in pen and some chose to stitch a word using an alphabet sheet I had drawn up many moons ago that they were able to copy. These too were stunning and I had grade 5 students queueing up outside my art room at lunchtime to do some extra stitching to get their work done!
      Your blog is always inspirational and I would love it if you took the time to look at mine.

  19. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your incredibly beautiful art ideas! And I absolutely love your stories (especially the A-hole one - hilarious!) and your fabulous sense of humour. Yours is the best art site I've come across. I have been teaching grades 1 and 2 for the last several years, but this year I'm teaching 4th grade, so was looking for some more challenging projects when I came across your site. Fantastic! Can't wait to try the stitching!

    Suzan Johnson
    Prince Charles Public School
    Trenton, Ontario, Canada

  20. Just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing :)

  21. Anonymous8/26/2016

    Do you think cardboard Chinet plates would work for the background of this project?

    1. I don't think so. I imagine that those closely placed holes would cause a weak spot and cause the plates to tear. What about using cardboard pizza rounds? Amazon sells them by the 100 and you can get the 8" ones for under 15 bucks!

  22. Anonymous11/04/2016

    What type of needles do you use?

    Thanks! - Art Teacher in CO

  23. Love it! But... what is Dot Day?...

  24. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting. Pretty cool post.It 's really very nice and Useful post.Thanks

  25. Can you share out the worksheet that you gave your kids to plan their design? I plan to use this with my 5th graders this week!

    1. Anonymous4/21/2018

      Did you ever get any information about that worksheet with the different stitching designs? I want to do this project but cant seem to find anything as simple as what she used.


    2. Check out They have some very simple stitching designs. This is the site I used to introduce string art.

  26. Cassie your story reminds me of the time my K group was rolling clay into balls. Right as the superintendent walked in the room I said across the riro, "boys quite playing with your balls!" Lucky for me he had a good sense of humor about it and actually was laughing so hard he cried.
    BTW awesome art project .I am going to do something similar with my middle schoolers using embroidery floss and donated leftover mat board .

    1. That's funny! The middle schoolers are going to love this!

  27. Awesome post! Do you have your worksheet posted anywhere? I like the way it is set up!


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