Art and Music and Italy – Part 2

A journey with children is much like a walk on a path.  There are many things to discover along the way, and there are multiple junctions, crossroads and turns.  The children direct which turn to take – if I pay attention.

Today we began learning about art in depth.  It was a terrific start!  When we read a book later that morning, the path turned.  Boy, did it ever turn.  Let me start at the beginning:

We looked at major pieces of art, again.  One look is never enough.  The more we look, the more we see, and the more questions we have.  Children were struck by the art of Kandinsky, especially the piece above.  I slowly panned major works of art to the children, only announcing the title and the artist.

       Large Blue Horses, by Franz Marc

       Haystacks, by Claude Monet

       Tiger in a Storm, by Henri Rousseau

       The Three Musicians, by Pablo Picasso

and on and on…

Can you see in your mind what was happening? Can you feel a tiny ping of excitement? The children could.  Art speaks for itself.  I didn’t need to say a word.

Then I showed children real artist paints – in tubes!  I showed them a palette and brushes. My teaching partner donned a beret and demonstrated how to squeeze out the paint on a palette, and use a brush with water.  Since the children liked Kandinsky’s painting, that’s what she painted:

It was fascinating to watch.  Children were rarin’ to go.  They were empowered to create a masterpiece.  And they knew it would take many days. A masterpiece is never created in only one day.  Day one of art had started.

After painting and feeling very satisfied, it was time to clean up and sit down for a story before lunch.  Since the art of Kandinsky was popular, I read The Noisy Paintbox, The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock.  Highly recommended!

The story begins with Kandinsky, a proper Russian boy, getting a paint box from his aunt. As he paints, the colors make beautiful sounds.  He paints the music he hears.  Now, if this sounds odd to you, it makes perfect sense to children.  They understand.  Perhaps we can all learn more from children, or from artists.

At the point in the book where Kandinsky is a grown man, and has forgone his art (because it didn’t conform to ‘proper art’), he goes to the opera.  That awakens his art.  He heard the colors singing.  He saw the music dancing.

“Jennie, what is opera?”, asked a child.

Well, isn’t that the best question I could have heard?  We knew about a symphony orchestra, but not an opera.  Yes, I explained an opera.  Better yet, I pulled up an Italian opera on YouTube, La bohème.

The children were so struck with the music that they stood up.  They watched the singers. They listened.  No one moved!  No one made a sound!

I whispered to myself, “These children are three and four years old.  I’m showing them a video of La bohème, and they’re enthralled, transfixed.  They love this!”

Art should make you feel.  Like music. -Vasya Kandinsky-

It was a wonderful day.  Stay tuned for more!


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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61 Responses to Art and Music and Italy – Part 2

  1. One artistic stepping stone to the next. A lovely story, Jennie.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    It’s a shame we lose do much of this appreciation of art by the time we “grow up.” This is a wonderful lesson, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Dan. At some point I will recommend to families that they take their child to an art museum (I’ll give them a list). If they visit, that should reinforce an interest or an art appreciation. This will benefit the parents, too. There’s nothing like seeing the ‘real deal’.

  3. This is exactly what learning should feel like. Wonderful, Jennie. It’s so distressing that art is one of the first curriculum items to go when funding is short. Art is a natural part of our souls and should be nurtured. Your post gave me a huge smile. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      It is one of the most important parts of education, and definitely part of our souls. When souls are nurtured, stress and anxiety dissipate. Win-win. Thank you, Diana. I’m so glad this gave you a big smile!

  4. beetleypete says:

    To go from abstract art to opera in the same day of lessons is a wonderful journey, Jennie. They are such lucky kids! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Lovely, Jennie. I have not taken my boys to opera but they have attended the ballet and many musicals. It is very good for their development.

  6. Ritu says:

    Loving it Jennie!

  7. ren says:

    On the edge of my seat, waiting for more…..

  8. I love this! What a wonderful post!

  9. Your class room is so much fun. Thank you for being such a wonder teacher your class is so lucky to have you.

    Your posts make me smile and you teach the kids such a variety of things and even i learn stuff the big kid i am. Have a fab rest of the week 😚

  10. Oh Jennie, This is beyond Wonderful. I have been reading the most wonderful book on how children develop (or fail to develop) the ability to communicate. It is called Genie: A Scientific Tragedy by Russ Rymer, and it is the most interesting and in-depth discussion about what we understand (or don’t) about learning to communicate and does involve a truly tragic story of a little girl who was deprived of the skills to communicate (it is very difficult to read in some areas).

    I believe that learning to hear all kinds of music and languages, poetry, and to physically do the things that we want them to learn about, be it cooking, sewing, painting, playing instruments (even homemade ones) and perhaps performing a child’s opera for example, all enable the children to learn whole new arenas of communication and depth of thinking because they are surrounded with things to stimulate their minds. Good for you, Jennie, Good for you!!!!! You are so my hero!!!

    • Jennie says:

      Stimulating the brain in a variety of ways is essential to development. There is no such thing as too early. If a child hears music and is talked to and read to, the ability to communicate is there. Now, that only touches on the things a child hears. Seeing is another whole area. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m not sure I could handle that sadness right now. And, your kind words are certainly appreciated.😊

      Today I bring my record player to school!

      • Although the child’s story was tragic truly, it is only one part of the book, but more of a look at how language develops and the ability to understand things. And it also had a lot to do with the way research is done on such issues, and the problems that arise with that related to such things as grants and the lack thereof, and the arguments amongst researchers. The child did live, and she was ultimately put into a home for brain damaged adults or those with developmental challenges, and I guess she had a visit weekly from her mother for the rest of her life. It seems like there is so much more of developmental issues today, and I hate that women who are carrying babies are given the option to have an abortion if they think the baby might be born with some types of developmental challenges. Life is sacred, and that makes me very sad to think of. All children are so beautiful, and those with challenges are especially beautiful.

        I am so happy that you are exposing your charges to so many wonderful things. Would that all school was like this. I had one teacher in high school who used to bring records in every day and have us write whatever came to mind as we listened to the music. I wrote some really good stories because I was so inspired, and that one teacher literally changed my life with her kind words about my writing then. It was perhaps the only encouragement I ever received from anyone all the way from first grade through college. If people only realized how much a kind word can do for any child, regardless of their age, and it can’t hurt the adults too.

      • Jennie says:

        Words are wondrous, Anne. Cheers to your high school teacher.

  11. I was enthralled here too. Words fail.

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for being an extraordinary teacher and for opening these children to art, in many forms, a gift that will benefit their entire lives.

  13. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This post is another example or excellent teaching from Jennie!

  14. This post had goosebumps running down my arms Jennie.. Such a beautiful way to help children create and appreciate art.. And to finish it all off with a beautiful story,… Painting is like creating a melody, each stroke of the brush a note forever held on the canvas..

    Fabulous post Jennie, and awesome photos of beautiful artwork .. And I love the beret.. 🙂

  15. Wonderful, Jennie. I believe that drawing with different mediums for children is the most wonderful, creative and self-expression builder than anything else, I know of. A fantastic post, Jennie as always. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      You are absolutely right, Karen. Using different mediums is stimulating for children because you never know which one will be interesting, or a point of learning and focus, and creative self-expression. Watching this unfold is a joy!

  16. delphini510 says:

    Jennie, this is to me a wonderful sunshine story on a Saturday morning. Your teaching
    is wonderful and you give these children so much in combining the arts.
    Letting them paint with ” real ” paint and listening to Opera. Wow, you go Jennie.
    That is one happy class you have who will go out in the world with opened minds.


  17. Darlene says:

    It takes many days to produce a masterpiece is such a valuable lesson. Children need to know this as so much is instant these days. I try to stress that when I visit schools, that it takes a long time to write a book and then perfect it. Music and art go together like jam and peanut butter. I love the kids’ reaction to La bohème.

    • Jennie says:

      Jam and peanut butter is a great comparison. You can’t have one without the other. Yes, the lesson of taking many days to make a masterpiece is something children desperately need into today’s world of hurry and stress. Thank you, Darlene. I wish you’d been a fly on the wall when they heard La boheme. 🙂

  18. abbiosbiston says:

    Art should absolutely be part of education and it is tragic that it is cut more and more from learning programmes.

  19. dgkaye says:

    These children are so lucky to have you open their tiny eyes to the creative world. ❤

  20. happyskething14 says:

    Lucky kids! ❤️

  21. Sarah says:

    Love that quote by Kandinsky! And it is sooo lovely to see the children starting the journey of their art masterpieces!! I could feel their excitement when seeing the tubes and brushes just by reading your words! Looking forward to part 3!! 😄

  22. Norah says:

    It was a wonderful day, indeed. Such learning. Such memories.

  23. Pingback: Art and Music and Italy – Part 2 – nelsongondotcom

  24. A niche, especially during the formative years. Art reveals various expressions of love.

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