A Field Trip to the Art Show

Children and families and teachers went on a field trip to see the Art Show. Seeing is believing. It’s also loving, and empowering.  In the words of fellow blogger  Laura Bruno Lilly, these children are ‘heartists’ – artists with heart.

It took me a lifetime to learn to draw like a child.
Pablo Picasso

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
Claude Monet

Color is a power that directly influences the soul.  Color is the keyboard.  The artist is the hand that plays.
Wassily Kandinsky

The painter has the universe in his mind and hands.
Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.
Leonardo da Vinci

There are flowers for those who want to see them.
Henri Matisse


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Go Red Sox!

Cheering the Red Sox on home opening day!


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Art and Music and Italy – Part 4 – the Finale

Weeks of hard work + joy = great satisfaction and achievement.  That is the perfect equation, exactly how my preschoolers felt when they finally saw their art, their hard work, their masterpieces, mounted and framed.

You would think after a gazillion years of teaching that I would know what  was coming, know the wonderful art children would create.  Nope.  This year (and most every year) I was stunned.

When a child sees that artwork, mounted and  framed, I ask the big question, “What would you like to name your masterpiece?”  Every great work of art has a title.  Asking a child to give a title to his/her work is empowering.  They have learned about many artists and paintings.  Those paintings have a name.  And now their teacher is asking them to name their painting.

I can’t think of a better way to give a child support and encouragement on a much higher level.  Instead of only praising their work, by simply asking them to name their painting I put them into the category of walking in the shoes of being a ‘master’.  Children had already learned so much about works of art, therefore this direct question subtly implied their greatness.  That implication is far more powerful than a teacher’s words of praise.

“The Sunset”, by Mia

“Starry Night”, by Vivian
Vincent van Gogh art

“Harry”, by Mac
Cubism inspired by Pablo Picasso

“The Rainbow”, by Boden

“Flower”, by Emmett

“Colorful”, by McKinley

“Sparkles”, by Maeve
Early Renaissance

“Lucky”, by Avery

A feast for the eyes!  The art will be on display at our local post office for the entire community to see for six weeks.  We have a guest book hanging for people to sign.  It will certainly be filled.  Teachers, children, and families will visit the post office together this week to admire the Art Show.


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Quotations On Poetry

Wonderful quotations from Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing



“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

                                                                    Leonardo da Vinci



“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”

                                                                    Robert Frost


“With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion.”

                                                                   Edgar Allan Poe

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Best Job Ever – Story Epilogue

Since that wonderful day last week, when a child asked me to sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles, there has been more.  The music exploded in ways I never expected. Well, it was more than the music.

The child’s parents were thrilled (an understatement) that I found the song on my old Beatles album and played it for all the children, holding hands with everyone as we sang along.

They returned the favor and gave us a new children’s book of the Beatles song, “All You Need is Love.”

This is more than a book.  It is the lyrics to the song, perfectly Illustrated for children.  The book is simply marvelous!  I read it aloud to the children, that is I sang it aloud.

I have the 45, the single record.  I can’t wait to play the record and show children the insert that makes a 45 work on a spindle.  And then we’ll learn about speeds and we’ll change the sounds on the record.

Music makes life come alive, doesn’t it?


Posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, joy, Love, music, picture books, reading aloud, Singing, The Arts, The Beatles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Art and Music and Italy – Part 3

In Part 1, children began to learn about Italy through maps and a big atlas. First we ‘travelled’, then we learned fun facts (pretzels were invented in Italy, pasta was not).  We learned that opera is from Italy, and children listened to and watched a symphony orchestra.  I showed children major pieces of art, and they recognized Starry Night, as that poster hangs in our classroom.

In Part 2, I laid the foundation for creating our own art masterpieces, in preparation for our annual Art Show. We looked at important pieces of art once again, from The Scream, to Large Blue Horses, to Haystacks.  The colorful art of Kandinsky struck a chord, so we read the book, The Noisy Paintbox. Kandinsky was moved to paint the sounds he heard, after going to the opera.  Of course, we listened to an Italian opera, La bohéme.  Ah, the combination of art and music is powerful.

Part 3:
In order to properly introduce music, I needed the tools that would make music come alive for the children – a record player and record albums.


Children were spellbound as I lifted the lid.  I slowly touched and played with the turntable and the arm.  Then I pulled out a record album and put it on the player.  Children thought it was a giant CD.  I turned it on, explained how the needle works, and rubbed my finger across the needle – what a surprising sound.  When the moment came to play the record, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Italian, of course), the music was a giant wave of wonder.  The sounds poured out and filled the classroom.  Kandinsky must have felt the same way when he went to the opera.

“Do you hear that beautiful music?  Here is what happens when you hear music, just like the symphony and opera we listened to: the music goes into your ears, then it goes into your heart. When your heart is full, it goes out your fingertips, like shooting stars, and you can paint a masterpiece.”

Can you see me putting my hands over my heart and then shooting my arms and fingers out?

And so, we were ready to paint, using real artist paints in tubes.  We spent much of the week painting, often working on a piece over and over again.  We painted like Kandinsky.  Mia was moved by Monet’s Haystacks, and worked tirelessly on her own sunset and sky.

We painted representational art (daffodils) and also Early Renaissance art.

All the while, children listened to Vivaldi and to Beethoven as they painted. They felt the music and they created art that is worthy to be in an Art Show.

I read a fabulous new book to the children, Because, by Mo Willems.

As I opened the book, I saw that the end papers were the score to a Franz Schubert symphony.  Wow!  “What is that?”, asked the children.  Of course they had no idea that this was reading music (invented in Italy) and each black dot represented a note, a specific sound.  We talked about how the black dots are like letters that make words.

The story begins with, “Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music, a man named Franz was inspired to create his own.”

Each page is what happens next, from people working to play an instrument, to forming an orchestra to play Schubert, to a little girl going to the concert, and much more.  This is a wonderful book.

We studied the Mona Lisa and wrote a story about her.  It helped children to really look at art, beyond form and color.  Art can have feelings, too.


Did you know there is a curved road in the background that looks like a yellow S?  I did not, but he children did.  I’m so glad they equate happy eyes and mouth to a dog.  Warms my heart.

The most fun was learning to sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” – in Italian. The E-I-E-I-O is exactly the same, helping to make the song flow for children. We used Beanie Babies for the farm animals; a dog (cane), cat (gatto), cow (mucca), sheep (pecora), and a pig (maiale).  Eddie said, “Jennie, we need a chicken.”  He was right.  Thank goodness I had a chicken (polo) Beanie Baby at home.

Tomorrow we introduce Cubism and create art with shapes.  We’ll explore The Three Musicians by Picasso, and find all the shapes.  The first I Spy.  We will also study The Snail, by Matisse.  His grandson lives in my town.  I taught his children many years ago.

I mount and frame each child’s masterpiece, and then the big moment comes when each child gives their masterpiece a title.  This will be as important as naming a new baby when s/he is born.  Stay tuned for Part 4.


Posted in art, Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, music, picture books, preschool, The Arts, young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Magic In Books — Quotations

Oh, there definitely is magic in books. I get to see it every day when I read aloud to children. Thank you for these excellent quotations, Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing



“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

                                                                 Stephen King



“I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

                                                                 J. K. Rowling


“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

                                                                Ray Bradbury

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