Positive and Negative Space Dots

Many parts form a whole.  First grade students are learning about estimation and number illustrations in math.  How many ways can you show 100? 

We read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. "Vashti even made a dot by not painting a dot."
"How can she do that?" Some students exclaimed, as the book was being read.
"How can you make a dot by not painting a dot?"
We looked up-close at Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte and saw that his painting was made of all dots. The students estimated the amount of dots in that painting (approximately 3,456,000!)
We talked about positive and negative space. Can you make a dot by painting many little dots ? How much space would 100 dots fill?
First, the students chose whether they would like to make a dot (painting in the positive space) or a "not dot" (painting in the negative space). They traced circle templates (a larger one for the dot, a smaller for the not dot). The students then painted frisket around their circles (on the outside of the line for Dots, on the inside of the line for Not Dots).  The students were enamored by the "rubber paint". 
The students worked to stipple and drip dots of color into positive or negative space. Some students (above) were very careful and concise.
Some students were more painterly with their drips. 
I encouraged them to mix color, experiment..."Make your mark!"
This little artist was included in the picture- she had dots on her apron and on her glasses!
***Come back on Monday for an update. The students will be taking off the frisket--something they've been eager to do for two class periods.  I will be displaying these beauties in the school. Check back for more!


  1. This is awesome!!! My classroom would love this!


  2. I don't understand the instructions, but love the outcome. Can you be more specific? And what is frisket? :)


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