“The Scream”, Round 2

Alex liked his painting of “The Scream.”  He called it “The Yeller Who Was Lost”, because he couldn’t remember scream, and he knew the painting had been lost.  Actually, Alex liked the original art by Edvard Munch far more than what he had painted.

I knew it.  While he patiently and passionately worked with small brushes and watercolors from a tube, they weren’t the right tools for what he wanted to paint.  Last week I saw Alex using markers and making orange swirls across the top of the page.  That was a red flag- he still needed to paint this again, his way.

Today I gave Alex big paper, and the right paints and brushes.  He was thrilled!  I also introduced Mozart at Morning Meeting on the record player.  As I played the album, I slowly panned pictures of art for the children.  No words.  Just listening to music and looking at art.  You could have heard a pin drop.  The music played the entire morning as children listened and painted their hearts out.

Alex was focused as he started.  Very focused.  Teachers and children tippy-toed as they walked by.  Everybody left him alone.

It was almost a relief.  Alex could finally paint his way, what he wanted to paint.  And, he did.  At one point he told me he wanted to paint the whole paper.  I was being the messenger of washed brushes and fresh paint.  I didn’t say a word.

Yes, he did.  He filled the paper.  Alex spent a good thirty minutes carefully looking at “The Scream” as he painted, and then painting it his way.  Look at the satisfaction on his face.  And, look at his masterpiece!

Teach children by giving them the tools, then stepping back.  All they need is encouragement.  Don’t get in the way.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in art, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, Teaching young children, The Arts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to “The Scream”, Round 2

  1. Tina Frisco says:

    Your gentle approach allowed him to bring his painting to life, Jennie. He looks so pleased ❤

  2. This little boy has so much sense of color, form, and pattern. He is amazing. And, perhaps, if it had not been for you, he would not have come to know his talent or have faith in his artistic self. I am so sure that other little ones have gained so much self knowledge and believe in their abilities, too, by the opportunity you have given them for self-expression. Wonderful, Jennie.

  3. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    Jennie is an incredible teacher. She gives her young students the opportunity for self-expression with music, art, and reading out loud. They feel free to express themselves artistically. They never have to feel self-doubt in Jennie’s caring environment and she encourages their self-expressive with love.

  4. Pingback: “The Scream”, Round 2 | K. D. Dowdall

  5. I imagine many who read your posts sigh and say, “if only”. Seeing this almost brings tears. This young man could end up being a great painter because you allowed that free self expression. One taste is all it takes. It’s like freeing a piece of the soul and these children have one even though they are small. Bless you for treating them as whole humans who only need the tools and encouragement.

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness, Marlene! You have made my day. Yes, one taste is all it takes. I love your words, “It’s like freeing a piece of the soul.” Thank you!

  6. A beautiful painting by this boy, Jennie. The colour usage is delightful.

  7. Sue Vincent says:

    That’s wonderful, Jennie. Alex has really caught the movement in that painting.

  8. Ritu says:

    I love what he achieved Jennie!!!

  9. Darlene says:

    Wow! His painting turned out so well. So nice to see the sense of accomplishment on his face. Well done both of you!

  10. beetleypete says:

    He seems destined to be an artist. To capture the essence of that strange painting shows undeniable talent.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  11. Opher says:

    That was quite a response. He has created a totally different picture using the elements oh the painting. I like it.

  12. imambertan says:

    It’s the most important stage for him to develop his skills and creativity ❤

  13. Norah says:

    Thank you for following up on Alex and “The Yeller that was Lost”, Jennie. I agree that it is important to give them the tools they need and the time and space to use them to express themselves. Alex does look pleased with what he has created, and why shouldn’t he. It’s a masterpiece. I love your way of playing music while you display art for them to view, then providing the tools for them to create. How inspiring — engaging so many of the senses.

    • Jennie says:

      You are welcome, Norah. Alex just needed to get this right, and put paint to paper in his own way. Oh, I love how pleased he was. And his art really is a masterpiece. He told me today that he wants to title it “The Scream.” I think that says a lot. I wish you could be a fly on the wall when I played music on my record player and slowly panned the children. So simple, so huge.

  14. I adore your subversive methods! I, too, aim to poison the minds of innocents by gifting books and music!

  15. Dan Antion says:

    This is such an important message, Jennie. Thank you for knowing this!

  16. Good for Alex and good for you, Jennie.

  17. John Fioravanti says:

    An excellent lesson for us all, Jennie!

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, What a wonderful post! You are an extraordinary teacher, and you have given this little boy the chance to find his talent and passion!

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is another wonderful post by an excellent teacher!

  20. In the early 2000’s I attended the traveling Peter Max 9/11 exhibit when it came to Colorado. It was there amidst the walls and halls of his artwork that I learned his parents had ‘given’ him his own space to be messy and create as a kid.
    That space was a tiny balcony off their tiny NYC apartment.
    Gives new meaning to ‘a room of one’s own’.

    I did that with my own kids, Ma did that with us kids and it looks like Alex’s folks just might need to consider designating a tiny corner ‘space’ he can be messy and create.
    Meanwhile, you have provided such a space in your classroom!!!!
    ~ hugs and wishes for colorful days ahead ~

    • Jennie says:

      What a great family story, Laura. Tradition at it’s best, I’d say. For Alex, that would be great. I will let
      Them know. Hey, if Peter Max had that growing up, that speaks volumes for creativity. So, he also had his hand at painting The Scream? I wonder how old he was. Thanks so much, Laura!

  21. I read your post about this before, and I loved this kid… Now I REALLY love this kid!! Alex definitely knows good art in any form! What a great child!

  22. pjlazos says:

    Going for Munch but looking like Van Gogh!

  23. Yes! Yes! Yes! Give them the tools and then step back! That is so important. I think you must be a very good teacher, Jennie. I have known Kindergarten teachers who practically made the child’s Mother’s Day cards for them so they would look nice enough. It disgusted me that they couldn’t let the child be proud of whatever they were capable of at the time. The mothers would have found their efforts much more endearing than the teachers’ “fix-up.” Great post.

  24. Wow, Jennie. His painting is stunning. I can’t believe a preschooler painted that. You clearly awakened something special in him. Now I want to put on some Mozart and get out my paints and brushes. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      Stunning, indeed! I felt like the “art guard”, keeping people and distractions at bay. And, Mozart- what better music? I told the children that Einstein was inspired by Mozart. Pretty cool, and true. It does make one want to listen and paint. Thanks so much, Diana! 🙂

  25. Kally says:

    The painting is such an awesome idea!

  26. Beautiful lesson. Go Alex, and go you, Jennie! 🙂

  27. This is marvelous, Jennie. I’m so happy Alex got to do it his way.
    (I’m no artist, never had lessons or proper training. But that’s all I ever wanted to do when I was a child and teen. I taught myself as much as a kid can. One day when I was in my “tweens” a substitute came in at school. I was excited because I knew we were going to get extra art time. She gave us options of what we could paint with the 4 or 5 colors of tempera paint. I picked Huck Finn and made my crude drawing of the boy. Those colors weren’t enough for me, so I started mixing a couple. Well, this teacher started ranting at me because I “wasn’t supposed to” mix colors, and shouldn’t be doing that at all. Confused and frustrated, I stopped working on it. I didn’t know what to do as I looked at my paper trying to understand what I’d done wrong, and unable to go further. She was actually pissed off that I was mixing colors.
    Finally some other teachers came in. When they told her that I had not had lessons, that mollified her somewhat. After the other teachers talked to her, I was permitted to go ahead my way. But it was already ruined for me.)
    So yay for Alex doing it his way! Keep up the great work, Jennie. You’re an inspiration. Hugs.

    • Jennie says:

      What a terrible story, Teagan. Because that still sticks with you, it proves how important it is to understand children- especially when teaching the arts. You can bet that she was reprimanded, but as you said, it was still ruined for you. Yay for Alex, and thank you so much for your kind words. Always appreciated. 😍

  28. That’s awesome that you are sensitive to their needs. He does look very pleased with his work as he should be because it’s wonderful!

  29. reocochran says:

    It is very important to be like you were! Open and encouraging. Interpretation of scenery, vases with bouquets or “the yeller who was lost” are in the “eyes of the beholder!” I know you act this way daily, giving true value to those children. I’m so glad you are still doing this, with fresh energy and your love of those kids! ❤️

  30. dgkaye says:

    Absolutely Jennie! Give them the tools then let them fly ❤

  31. Another great lesson and another great painting!

  32. Probably my favorite mantra is “Your writing will teach you what you need to know.” Painting too. An artist character of mine likes to tell an artist friend of his who keeps getting blocked “Don’t make yourself paint. Let yourself paint.” Alex’s “Yeller” made me think of this. It’s beautiful and intense.

    • Jennie says:

      “Let yourself paint” hits the nail on the head. Your friends was right. And, Alex let himself paint. I see the Art Show about once a week, and every time his piece hits me like a ton of bricks. I always see it as if it is the first time. Make sense? Look at it framed and hanging on my recent Art Show post and tell me how it strikes you. And yes, writing is much like painting in teaching you what you need to know. Many thanks, Susanna.

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