We are learning about Italy, which is just perfect as we prepare for our annual Art Show. It’s only a few days into the learning, and already we are bursting at the seams in the best of ways. Here is what happened today:
Our first art activity was fun. Nothing serious, just combining Italy and art. We glued tissue paper circles onto paper, and then dropped cooked spaghetti dipped in black paint on top.
The children know that pasta doesn’t come from Italy. It was invented in China (ice cream was, too). Still, it was fun to drop and throw spaghetti. We learned about pasta and much more in a favorite book from a series, Look What Came From Italy.
As we read the book today, we also discovered that Italy is the home for inventing pretzels, the radio, the fork, lock & key, and the cookie. How cool is that? And then I turned the page in the book to discover that the concept for a symphony orchestra was from Italy.
I showed children the picture- the big curvature on a stage with instruments grouped together. They had no idea about a symphony orchestra. Of course not, they’re three and four years old. I talked about instruments and music to fifteen blank-faced children. And then I knew I had to do something. This was too important. This was music, and a symphony. Children needed to learn and hear.
Can you tell I was passionate?
I grabbed our iPad and typed in ‘symphony orchestra performance’. What came up couldn’t have been a better introduction. A ten minute video of the Symphony Orchestra of India had every child spellbound. They saw and heard each instrument, including a banjo and a djembe. We watched the video twice.
The best was yet to come. The picture book I read aloud before lunch, No One Saw, showed important pieces of art.
This is what I did:
I showed children the book cover and just waited. I said nothing. McKinley’s face lit up. She pointed above the loft and said, “We have that!” Yes, we have a Starry Night poster hanging on the wall. Then we looked carefully at the picture on the book. It showed van Gogh’s brush strokes in greater detail.
“How do you think he did that? Do you see the colors? His brush strokes went this way and that way.” I moved my hand in circles and curves.
Ah, I had planted a seed.
It was time to read the book. I opened the book to this page:
I acted surprised. Actually, I acted startled. My big, booming voice said, “Eddie! You could do this! Look!” I put the picture in front of him. Eddie’s saucer eyes stared at the painting, and he shook his head ‘yes’ over and over. I could have said that to any one of the children. All would have had Eddie’s response.
“Eddie, what colors would you need?” We talked about the colors. Children had to really look at the painting.
I moved on to the next picture in the book:
“Mia! You could do this!” In the same manner that I did with Eddie and Monet’s haystacks, I repeated the process with Mia and Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers. I continued with other works of art, like Sunday, by George Seurat. We had to look closely to see the many, teeny-tiny dots that he painted.
When I turned the page to this painting by Mary Cassatt:
Emmett nearly jumped out of his skin. Before I had a chance to say anything, he said, “We have that in the blue bathroom!” Yes, we have that hanging in the children’s bathroom. Emmett recognized it immediately.
Here’s the thing. Before children begin to create art in earnest, they need to feel art, feel that they can do this. They need to see art with all its colors and brush strokes. They need to be empowered.
Our journey has begun.