“Starry Night” Continues

The walls in my classroom are mostly filled with children’s art, as it should be.  Gone are the flashy colors and cute teacher decorations.  I learned long ago they are more of a distraction than anything else to children.  My one non-child piece of art displayed in the classroom is a poster of Starry Night, the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh.  I have had it hanging for years, above the loft, where children can easily see it every day.

I really didn’t do much with the poster.  It wasn’t necessarily part of my curriculum, although sometimes we talked about the art when we prepared for our annual art show.  It was just ‘there’, something beautiful to look at.

That changed when Juliet and her family visited MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York.  Her mom sent me this photo, and told me how Juliet was so excited to see Starry Night – the art she had always loved and remembered from her years in my classroom.

I had no idea.  She never told me.  But, isn’t that how it is with art?  Children internalize their environment.  They may not talk about it, but they feel it.  Juliet certainly did.

As the years have gone by, Starry Night has been replicated, admired, studied and often discussed in my classroom.  It is an Aqua Room symbol of love and joy.  It is part of who we are.  And, it keeps growing.

For example, when the children were painting on wood in the style of Renaissance art, Liam shook his head no and said, “I want to paint that”, pointing to Starry Night.  Of course I got him the paint colors- blue, yellow, white, and black.  After a short while he asked me for red.  Red?

“Liam, there isn’t any red in Starry Night.”

“Yes there is.”


“In the house.  The red house.”

“What red house?”

The one near the bottom.”

“Liam, come and show me.”

We went to the top of the loft, and sure enough there it was – a red house!  I had no idea.  All these years and I never saw it.  Liam did.  Children often see things that adults miss.

He painted the house and was very satisfied with his work of art.

The red house story has been told and retold over the past years.  I have yet to meet an adult that knew of the house.  This Christmas I was thrilled to receive a hand made pair of fleece socks, complete with the little red house, from a former Aqua Room parent.  Her children were Starry Night lovers, too.

Starry Night lives on and will forever be.  Happy New Year to all!


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.
This entry was posted in art, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, joy, Love, museums, Teaching young children, The Arts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to “Starry Night” Continues

  1. Ritu says:

    Happy new year, Jennie 💜🎉🥂

  2. Goff James says:

    Hi, Jennie. Great post. Great message. Having been a teacher myself I really enjoyed the read. As I look back; I often reflect upon that which I overlooked and those things that children brought to my attention. Happy New Year. Goff

  3. beth says:

    I’ve changed my classroom to look much the same, it’s calming and beautiful at the same time. I love this story so very much, and shows us that there is always something to learn from the children who see things with fresh eyes and no unintentional bias –

    • Jennie says:

      Baskets instead of clear bins, a big neutral rug, and wood chairs instead of plastic have made a world of difference. I’m so glad you loved the story, Beth. It’s wonderful when things evolve because the children have brought it to the forefront, and we have embraced it. Emergent curriculum at its best. Happy New Year to you!

  4. Opher says:

    I love Liam’s painting! And those starry socks!!

  5. GP Cox says:

    An observant young man!

  6. Darlene says:

    I love this story. Only a child would notice a small red house in the corner of the painting. Everyone else is looking at the sky. Happy Happy New Year, Jennie.

  7. Dan Antion says:

    I remember reading about the red house. Great story, Jennie – Happy New Year!

  8. quiall says:

    Exposure is the first step towards appreciation. I have never been a fan of that painting but I do appreciate it. I also never noticed the entire village at the bottom! Smart kid of yours.

  9. The things we learn from children!

  10. Liam must have studied that painting in quite a lot of detail, Jennie. It is interesting what attracts the attention of children.

  11. I love this story! As many times as I’ve looked at “Starry Night,” I never saw the red house either. Children do see the world differently!

  12. petespringerauthor says:

    Add me to the list of adults who never noticed the red house, Jennie. I can’t say that I’m surprised since kids are always picking up on the smallest details.

    It’s not the same thing, but your story reminds me of one of those hilarious moments in the classroom I’ll never forget. When my son was born many moons ago, I used to get dressed in the dark so as not to disturb my wife after she and I took turns with the baby during the night. I was teaching a lesson to my second graders who were sitting on the rug in front of me. I asked a question about something, and Danielle, a little girl who rarely opened her mouth, raised her hand. I called on her excitedly, eager to have her take part in the lesson. Rather than answer my question, she said in the most innocent voice, “Did you know you have on two different colored shoes?” I looked down and saw one brown and one black. I burst into laughter, and the kids and I all shared this funny moment. A beautiful kicker to the story was that after this moment, Danielle started to participate a lot more in class.

    • Jennie says:

      What a delightful story! And to think that was what helped Danielle to open up. I love it! I’m glad you enjoyed my Starry Night stories. That red house is something else, isn’t it? Thank you, Pete!

  13. Happy New Year, Jennie.

  14. Pingback: “Starry Night” Continues | WINDOWS FROM HEAVEN Photography -Reaching Millions Worldwide with HOPE,COMFORT,TRUTH, and INSPIRATION In 2020.

  15. As always well done Jennie! A happy and blessed New Year to you and yours too, as to all visitors of your fantastic blog. Michael

  16. magarisa says:

    Happy 2020, Jennie!

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Happy New Year, Jennie! This is wonderful!

  18. Happy New Year Jenny! I wish you and your students another year of blessings.

  19. Beautiful, Jennie… I love art! ❤ The lessons we learn from our children are awesome… Happy New Year!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Bette. Yes, children are often the real teachers, if only we pay attention. I love art, too. Going to a museum is my tonic. Tomorrow I’m going to the Concord Museum to see their annual display of literacy trees. ❤️

      • I live near The Colby College Art Museum in Waterville, ME and we visit often. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        Colby College is wonderful. I will put that museum on my bucket list. My #1 Maine museum bucket list is the Farnsworth Museum. Hubby and I will get there soon! We did the Owls Head Museum. He loves old cars and planes, and flew fighter jets in the Navy. That’s where we heard about the Farnsworth Museum. Have you been to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH? It’s wonderful. We’re very lucky to live in New England with a wealth of art museums. I count my lucky stars.

  20. beetleypete says:

    Such a wonderful connection with children and art is an inspiring start to a new year indeed. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  21. srbottch says:

    Wonderful story, Jennie. Socks look great in your feet. And we never completely know what’s churning in those tiny heads, do we? Constant learning and you’re the catalyst that gets it started. Happy New Year!

    • Jennie says:

      Glad you like the socks, Steve. They’re my new favorites. And, thank you for your kind comments. Never underestimate the creativity of children, right? Happy New Year!

  22. Kally says:

    Let’s welcome the year which is fresh
    Let’s welcome the year which is new,
    Let’s cherish each moment it beholds,
    Let’s celebrate this blissful new year.

  23. Hi, Jennie. Colby College is wonderful as is the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland (have been there twice. Haven’t been to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH through. Being retired, most of our travel is in Maine these days. We enjoyed Owls Head several years ago. Maine has so much to offer. We take day trips to the coast spring and fall–love all the local galleries! I think you’ll really enjoy Colby. Enjoy your travels as you check off the must-visits on your list! ❤

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Bette. I didn’t know it was connected with Colby. A wonderful college would certainly support a wonderful museum. 🙂 I hope our retirement years come sooner rather than later so we can travel and see more of New England. I’m glad you enjoyed Owls Head. Maine is a treasure trove!

      • A treasure trove, indeed! ❤ Wondering if you would like to participate in my "Celebrating Maine through Poetry" theme this year since The Pine Tree State is celebrating its 200th Birthday in 2020. I'll be featuring photos with poems (haiku or other) by Mainers and Maine visitors as well. I know you love Maine and thought you might enjoy addingyour perspective to the series. Let me know if you're interested–I would love it! Feel free to email me at bettestevens@tds.net SUBJECT: Celebrating Maine GUEST POST. Happy teaching & Happy New Year, my friend! ❤

      • Jennie says:

        Thank you, Bette! I would be happy to participate. It would be an honor. I’ll email you this weekend. 🙂

  24. I’ve had this page open quite the while an kept getting distracted. A little ADD going on here. 😉 I love this story. That young man must have some really sharp vision to spot the red house. We miss so much by not looking deeply enough. Many of us look at things but don’t really see them. Great lesson from a wise child. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jennie says:

      This was one of most important moments in my teaching. Well, the whole Starry Night series of events speak volumes for the importance of art in schools. Thank you for reading and loving the story, Marlene. Children teach us so much, and see so much. I am reminded of a chapter in “Charlotte’s Web” where Fern has told her parents what she hears the animals say in the barn. Her parents have a conversation, and he father says something to the effect that perhaps animals do speak, and maybe he wasn’t listening or paying attention, and didn’t quite catch what they said. He understood and believed.

  25. You are clearly haing such a beautiful and valuable impact on children by highlighting their own work as artists and by sharing with them the story of great works of art!

  26. Thanks so much for helping us Celebrate Maine’s 200th this year, Jennie! Have a great weekend, my friend. ❤ xo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s