The dot that means a lot: Elmwood Elementary celebrates International Dot Day

The dot that means a lot: Elmwood Elementary celebrates International Dot Day

When Hilary Gravette came to Elmwood Elementary from Baltimore Highlands Elementary this year, she brought a few things with her: hope, experience, and of course, a lot of excitement.

But she also brought something else: an idea, one that’d empower her new students as much as help her connect with them.

That idea, she said, came from a book.

Thinking differently

Working as a library media specialist for more than a decade, Gravette has read her fair share of books. But, of all the books Gravette has read, she says some that stand out are those by children’s author Peter H. Reynolds. In particular, she remembers “The Dot.”

“‘The Dot’ is a book about a girl named Vashti who feels like she can’t draw anything,” Gravette said. “Her teacher helps her see that that’s not true. It’s a story about perseverance and thinking differently.”

Inspired by the book’s message, Gravette said she went online to learn more about it. What she found instead, however, was information about International Dot Day, a worldwide celebration that encourages students to collaborate with their peers, be courageous, and exercise their creativity. To help her students achieve those same goals, Gravette signed Elmwood Elementary up to participate.

Celebrating together

The moment students arrived to school on Thursday, Sept. 15, the celebration began. Asked to wear spots and polka dots, students in Grades K-3 came wearing the styles in different colors and sizes. During their classes in the library, they also participated in special dot-themed activities.

“I read the story to the kids, and we discussed what Vashti had done,” said Gravette. “Then we created our own dots, using scrap paper, crayons, fuzzy dots, cupcake papers, and technology.”

At the end of the classes, Gravette added that the students enjoyed dot-shaped treats together.

Although about 70 students participated in this year’s Dot Day activities at Elmwood Elementary, Gravette said she hopes to make the celebration a schoolwide event next year.

“All of the teachers could come up with activities,” she said. “I’ve already talked to the art teacher to see if there could be a more direct collaboration.”

Until then, though, Gravette said she’s proud of how the school’s first celebration turned out. By reading “The Dot” to her students, she was able to bond with them – and help teach them a few life lessons, as well.

“I feel like the kids really did enjoy the story and took to heart the lesson about believing in yourself and not giving up so quickly,” she said. “I also liked the idea that what you do doesn’t have to be perfect. The students had only a few items they could use for their dot projects, but they still made what they wanted – all on their own.”

This year, nearly 7 million people in 140 countries – including BCPS students at other schools –  celebrated International Dot Day. To learn more, visit

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