The Dot, written by Peter H. Reynolds, was a discovery for me that sparked an instant passion. Thanks to our reading specialist daughter, Laura Pajor, for knowing that I’d totally groove on the idea.
And I’ve been saving it to share until before Rosh Hashanah, because there’s a great tie-in with the holiday.
In this story, little Vashti was sitting glumly in art class, with a blank sheet of paper in front of her. She was sure that she could not draw.
At first, her teacher tried to jolly her along. Then she said something that made all the difference: “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”
Still grumpy, Vashti jabbed at her paper and created – you guessed it – a dot. Her teacher wisely studied it, then told her to sign it. The next day, when Vashti discovered that her teacher had actually framed her dot, she was inspired to push herself further.
The genius in the story is how Vashti continues to explore and discover art for herself, and then realizes that she can help another struggling artist push past his initial doubt.
Age range: 5 – 12
At heart, what Vashti did for the little boy would fall under the concept of gemilut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness).
Some “big” mitzvot that fall under this category include visiting the sick, comforting mourners, hospitality, and tikkun olam. Children learn what they see.
But one-on-one kindness, kindness offered when no adult is there to give you a pat on the back, is to be cherished and nurtured. Examples for even young children include welcoming a new student to class or to the neighborhood, making a get well card for a sick aunt, and sharing toys with families staying with you.
Since one of the key concepts for Rosh Hashanah is round, think about round art to decorate your home. Think little dots. And bigger dots. And HUGE dots. Here are some starter ideas to spark inspiration for your young artists:
- Cut out circles of construction paper and collage them together with a glue stick.
- Pick up some circle stickers in different colors from your office supply store. Border artwork with them – or use them to create the art.
- Use a circle form (like a plastic glass or a round cookie cutter) to trace around with colored pencils. You can color inside.
- Slice apples into rounds, dip into paint, apply to paper. Here’s one good way to make round apple art. With his activity, you have the added symbolism of apples for Rosh Hashanah.
- And here’s a lovely way of using dots from pencil erasers to make Rosh Hashanah cards.
- Think about using the Vashti’s idea of making a dot (a circle) by “NOT painting a dot.” That adds a whole new dimension.
Download our free “Jewish New Year’s Cards – Inspiration for Young Artists” and send it on to your grands’ parents, as well. Then propose a game in which each of you, using the same inspirational materials from the pdf, creates Jewish New Year decorations or cards that you mail each other.
That way, both homes will have Rosh Hashanah wishes from the other that you can put on your counters or tape to your walls. And, you’ll have the fun of seeing how each person uses her own creative spirit to make something unique.
If you use Skype, it would be fun to save the mail and open both of the packages at the same time, so that the grands can tell you about their art – and you can do the same.
What kindnesses do you remember from when you were young? Why do you think they stuck with you?
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