“Starry Night” II

I will never underestimate children and art.  This story is why.

I have been introducing a variety of styles of art to children as we prepare our annual Art Show for the community.  Currently we are learning about France, and that’s a perfect opportunity to highlight art.  We are creating ‘masterpieces’, allowing each child to work on his or her piece multiple times until they feel it is just right.

Each piece in itself holds a story, because the end result is often far more than what the child imagined, or what I expected.  Sometimes a story is so remarkable, or so startling, that it needs to be told.  This is one such story:

“It happened like this…”  I use a record player to play record albums, thus bringing music to life in a tangible way for children.  I wrote about this in a March, 2015 post.  It is the best thing I do to introduce music, all types.  Music inspires art, as music in itself fills the soul and the mind.  At Morning Meeting I played Mozart (who inspired Einstein, by the way).  Then we were ready to paint.

This day our art style was Early Renaissance.  I stained wood panels and supplied plenty of gold acrylic paint, plus other colors, and sequins.  This was the ‘real deal’.  Liam carefully watched the first two children paint.  He was anxious to paint, yet he was looking rather serious.  When it was his turn, he stepped up to the plate, much like a ball player who had an important job to do.  He asked for black paint.  “Liam, I don’t have black paint.  Here are the dark colors.”  He looked carefully and picked navy blue.  Hmm…  Then he asked for ‘regular blue’ and a little gold.  I asked him if he wanted any sequins.  He said “No” in a firm voice, then looked directly at me as he pointed to the loft and said, “I’m painting THAT.”


“THAT” is Starry Night, our poster above the loft.  No wonder he needed dark colors and ‘regular blue’ and some gold.  Liam wanted to paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, not Early Renaissance art.  Liam went to work, and I had the pleasure of watching him create with determination.  I never said a word, except to offer more paint.  He knew the colors he needed, and he wanted to make the brush strokes; the swirls, circles, and the serpentine strokes.  Combining the right colors with the right brush strokes was his mission.  Yes, Liam was determined in the best of ways.  After his initial round, I knew this was destined to be a masterpiece.


Those eyes said, “I like what I’m doing, but I’m not finished.”  And, he was not finished.  Later, I took the poster off the wall and put it directly in front of Liam.  As he studied the poster he asked for red paint.  Red?  Liam said, “There’s a red house at the bottom.  I have to paint that.”  In my decades of looking at Starry Night I never noticed the tiny red house at the bottom.  Liam did.  I gave him red paint, and he painted it.

Two children walked by Liam independently as he was finishing his masterpiece.  They both remarked in a matter-of-fact way, “Hey, that’s Starry Night”. And, it is!  I held the painting at a distance for Liam, as if people were looking at it in a museum.  In Liam’s words, “Perfect.  It’s finished.”


This is the pinnacle; listening, learning, wanting, trying, and achieving.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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28 Responses to “Starry Night” II

  1. michellesaul says:

    His determination is so cute and inspiring! Liam is definitely going places. His Starry Night is really cool 🙂

  2. reocochran says:

    Jennie, I got teary eyed at this Liam’s vision, each step assured he was on his own mission to create his masterpiece. It is lovely! Your being quiet and helpful, as the master’s assistant were like golden moments set in his brain, for all time.

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Robin, that is so beautiful. The many emotions that played into the art process drove me to writing the blog post. I’m still happily reeling over the whole thing. And the red house? OMG! Many thanks!

  3. He has definitely got an artistic streak in him. What a brilliant effort. I’ve never noticed a little red house in Starry Night before, either.

  4. Bravo to Liam…Brava to Jennie.

  5. Beautiful painting and I love that you use a record player rather than just clicking a computer button. The children may remember this forever. Although a lot older than preschool, I still remember how wonderful it was when my English teacher paused in the middle of class and played “You’ve Got a Friend” on her record player.

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you, Marcia. There’s nothing better than a hands-on tool for children. My record player seems to bring music alive, and it did for you, too. I hang the art on Saturday. I will post photos this weekend. Reading aloud is #1, followed by art, and then music. Those three give children math and science. Wow!

  6. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Still Another Writer's Blog.

  7. How wonderful. I have a child just like that who has great attention to detail and knows just how she wants it to be. Thanks for giving him the time and freedom to do that.

  8. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for sharing a beautiful post and wonderful story about children and art.

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    In too many places, art programs are being cut from education. Here is a wonderful post about children and art!

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you for reblogging this post. Art is akin to math and science; if schools understood this, art would be part of the curriculum. I just love teaching from the heart.

  10. Léa says:

    C’est magnifique!

    Avec de grands baisers pour Liam! (With big kisses for Liam!)

    If only there were more teachers like you…


  11. Léa says:

    BTW, you might enjoy Loving Vincent on Youtube? There are several versions and I believe I’ve seen most of them. It is an amazing undertaking and I hope you take the time to check it out.
    I am overdue to take my new camera to Arles and see Vincent’s sunflowers again…
    Regards, Léa

  12. How wonderful! And may your kids always remember these moments when the freedom to be themselves matched the colors in the paint boxes, and you — a grownup — had faith in their artistic vision so that they could savor the passion of art!

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you. I hope they do. Students return again and again to visit, even decades later. Was it the art? The reading? The music? Perhaps it was a smile or a hug.

  13. Oh, I love this! That creative urge is so powerful and if we adults can get out of the way (as you did beautifully), the imagination is freed and anything is possible. Lovely painting!

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you! You are so right. Stepping back and supporting young creativity is crucial. I wish more teachers could do this. Stepping outside of the box takes bravery for the child and also the teacher. Heart + drive = creativity.

  14. Dustin says:

    Hello and thank you for dropping by Flaggfan, and for following me, much appreciated.:)

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