If you’ve ever shopped for children’s clothing, toys or furniture, you’re most likely very familiar with polka dots. Polka dot is a pattern created by filling a space with dots that are usually evenly sized and spaced closely together.

Fashion experts believe polka dots first became a popular pattern on clothing in the late 1800s in England. References to the term “polka dot” can be found as early as 1871 in Godey’s Magazine.

Polka dots got their name from the dance of the same name. Although they’re not directly connected to the dance in any way, the polka dance was very popular at the time the pattern became fashionable on clothing.

At the time, there were many other “polka” products, from polka hats to polka jackets. Most of these items disappeared when the polka dance fad faded away.

The polka-dot pattern, however, has remained popular over the years and has kept its name.

The polka is a fun and lively dance — and a specific type of dance music — popular throughout Europe and North America. It began in the mid-1800s in central Europe in the area that is now the Czech Republic.

The polka dance got its name from the Czech word půlka, which means “little half.” This is a reference to the short half steps that make up the basic steps of the dance.

Many people mistakenly believe that polka dancing started in Poland because the dance’s name is spelled the same as the Czech and Polish word Polka, which means “Polish woman or girl.”

Some historians believe polka dancing and music were first created by Anna Slezakova in 1834. She lived in an area called “Bohemia,” which is now the Czech Republic.

Her dance and music, created to accompany a local folk song, began a dance craze that spread across Europe and even to America within a decade. Polka remained a popular dance until the early 1900s, when new forms of music — like ragtime jazz — became the new craze.

Polka has never gone away, though. Polka dances are still held weekly all over the United States in areas with large populations of people with Central European heritage.


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    • We think polka dots are AWESOME, Kate! They make us happy when we see them on clothes, walls, notebooks…on everything! Thank you for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We have to say that we love polka dots, too, Clara! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis today and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

    • We really like that you are exploring different Wonders today and leaving us comments on each one, Julie! That’s AWESOME! Thanks for sharing that you think this Wonder ROCKS! :-)

    • We’re so excited to hear that our dancing Wonder made you smile, Destiny! We hope you’re having a WONDERful day! :)

  1. Dear wonderoplis
    Hi what are you doing today?
    I don’t have school today. We have teacher meetings with our parents. It also snowed a lot last night.
    Your friend,

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,
    How did you get your job, and also do you love your job? How old are you? I’m 8 years old.
    Your Friend

    • We sure do love being here at Wonderopolis, Kashlyn! We are lucky because all the Wonder Friends here at Wonderopolis help one another as we develop different Wonders! We have Wonder Friends of all ages here at Wonderopolis, Kashlyn! Thanks for sharing your comment! We Wonder if you have a favorite part from our polka dots Wonder!? :)

    • Hey there Kashlyn! We’re glad you enjoyed our polka dotted Wonder– you sure can visit Wonderopolis everyday! We hope you’ll join us again soon! Have a SUPER Saturday! :)

  3. Dear wonderopolis,
    I went sledding with my daddy he is nice to me. I love your website so so so so so much. Do you answer Ms. Uppnea’s class? Because I’m in her class.

    • We’re glad you’re back to Wonder with us today, Kashlyn! We Wonder if you have a lot of snow where you live? We bet it was a joy to go sledding with your dad, how fun! We LOVE to answer all our Wonder Friends’ comments, including Mrs. Uppnea’s class! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Am I the first one today? What are you doing? My dad’s wedding is in May and my b-day is in May and my dad’s b-day is in May and cousin’s b-day is in May. We do have a lot of snow and it was fun going sledding with my dad.

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,
    How is Olivia? Because I know a Olivia from Fennimore. Hi I love your website too. My b-day is May 6.

    Your friend

    • Hello there, Kashlyn! Happy belated birthday to you, Wonder Friend! We hope you’re having a SUPER day and you have fun celebrating your family! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

    • Hey there, Kashlyn, we’re :-) right back to you! :-)

      We hope you turn that frown upside down and have a SUPER Sunday! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do polka dots dance?
  • How did polka dots get their name?
  • Can you polka dance?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to polka? Get your dancing shoes on and find a partner. It’s time to learn a few new dance steps.

If you need some polka music, you can listen to polka music samples.

Learning how to polka dance is fun! The best way to get the hang of it is to watch polka dancing in action. Learn your first polka dance steps.

When you’ve mastered those basic steps, you can watch a variety of videos that illustrate more advanced polka dance steps. If you’re up for a challenge, try to learn how to do Snuffy’s Polka!

If you’ve already mastered the polka or just feel like being creative, you can also create your own fabulous polka-dot fashion designs. Make your own custom paper dolls with polka-dot pizzazz!


Still Wondering

Check out EDSITEment’s Music from Across America lesson to listen to a variety of popular, traditional and ethnic American music, from Native American drumming to Louisiana zydeco music.


Wonder Categories/Tags



dance  dot  fashion  music  pattern  polka 

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