Behold the Art Show

Children were sitting together as I carefully picked up each ‘masterpiece’, mounted and framed, and labeled with a title.  They knew this was IT, seeing the results of their love and labor.  I held up each piece, one at a time, as if it were the Mona Lisa.  Then, I slowly panned each work of art to the audience and simply said the title and artist;  “The Storm the White House and the Grass, by Dillon”, “The Big Scissors, by Hannah”, “Charlotte, by Ella”.  Twenty-two pieces of beautiful art, and each one brought spontaneous comments from their peers:  Eleni said, “That is so beautiful.”  Jackson said, “Whoa!”  Frankly, each piece of art they saw drew a wonderful comment.  When I asked children, “What will all these masterpieces look like hanging together on a wall?” Miles immediately shouted out, “An art museum!”  He was right.  After carefully hanging all the art pieces, it does indeed look like an art museum.


The Art Show this year focused on France.  Some children painted in the style of Claude Monet, some duplicated Henri Matisse’s large cut-outs, some painted freely.  We explored many artists and styles of art, from Cubism to Impressionism. We even tried our hand at Early Renaissance art, painting with gold on wood.  Children loved it all, because they were empowered with real tools, encouragement, and a free imagination.

imageBooks and reading aloud are a given in my classroom, multiple times a day.  What a big difference books make to art.  Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans is a favorite picture book, and Avery painted a lovely rendition.


Colin, the boy who painted in the style of Vassily Kandinsky last year, was incredibly excited to create large cut-outs in the style of Henri Matisse.  Yet, as he tried his hand with various mediums, he was drawn to Claude Monet, especially the painting, Gladioli.

imageWhen Liam tried his hand at Early Renaissance art, he was determined to use the tools to paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.


Every year I am stunned at the end result.  You see, the real learning is in the process of doing, and the product takes care of itself.  I give children the excitement of doing with stories of art and artists.  This year I read Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter.  Henri Matisse created his large cut-outs later in his life, with his assistants painting the paper for him.  Of course we had to paint our own paper to prepare for making cut-outs.  I couldn’t get the paper onto the table fast enough for the children to paint!  We learned how he drew the faces of his grandchildren on the ceiling with a long pole while in bed.

We looked at real photos of Monet’s gardens and compared them to his paintings.  I stopped to ask, “How did he do that?”  When children responded as to how, I paused as if I had learned something new.  Then I said, “Hannah, you could do that!”  She beamed and nodded her head.  That opened the door for looking at other works of art, and with each piece I repeated the same thing.  After looking at Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso and finding the geometric shapes, I said “Luca, you could do that!”  Not only did he say yes, the following week he stumbled across the art in a book and was bursting to show me.  “Jennie, look!  It’s the Three Musicians!”

So, what is happening here?  I’m teaching far more than various styles of art and about different artists; I am filling children with curiosity and giving them the validation that they can do it.  I am genuinely excited, because I know they want to learn and do.  Enthusiasm is infectious and the beginning of the process.  In this case, the magnificent masterpieces are the resulting product.


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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22 Responses to Behold the Art Show

  1. reocochran says:

    I like that you had each painting in hand, then displayed and lastly, hung on the wall. Your putting the original book or inspiration pictures up meant a lot to the parents and viewers. Jennie, this was an awesome display, like an art museum; as Miles said. This shows how you truly love and dedicate your energy for the students. 🙂

  2. frenchc1955 says:

    This is both a wonderful art show and an excellent demonstration of master level teaching!

  3. Dehan Taylor says:

    Wonderful work Jennie. I’m feeling your enthusiasm…you really love what you do. And yes indeed it really looks like an art museum, very lovely.

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you, Dehan. Yes, I love what I do. Art is a big part of what I bring to children (plus reading aloud and music). I’m so glad you like the art.

  4. This is super. What an amazing program you bring to these kids. Treating their art as the special masterpieces they are, in perfectly framed mats to set them off, must be so rewarding for them, their families, and for you, as well. Love the French theme and the final display!

  5. I love reading your posts and seeing the wonderful things you are doing!

  6. Reblogged this on Michelle Eastman Books and commented:
    Creative inspiration…

  7. What a great way to instill an appreciation of art and literature very early. I’m very impressed.

  8. Reblogged this on Dayne Sislen Illustration and commented:
    What a wonderful way to introduce an appreciation for art and literature. I just love creative teachers. It’s amazing to see pre-schoolers doing this kind of art.

  9. Thank you Jennie. So exemplary….. I’m aware I could be doing this more with my inner little kid and that of people around me. So blessed you referred me to this post. 💖 Love

  10. FlowerAlley says:

    I shared this on fb. I love these paintings!

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