“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!


Posted in art, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, joy, Love, museums, Teaching young children, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 78 Comments

Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

If in our daily life we can smile,
if we can be peaceful and happy,
not only we, but everyone will profit from it.
This is the most basic kind of peace work.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

“The” Quote 0f 2019 – 50 years later

Fifty years ago the first astronauts landed on the moon.  This event brought to the world the victory of science, hopes and dreams – and proof that anything can be achieved with hard work, bravery and spirit.

In recognition of this historic and important event, I want to share Neil Armstrong’s quote.  It is the most important quotation this year, just as it was fifty years ago:

“With courage, imagination, and the will to explore – nothing is impossible.”
-Neil Armstrong-

Whether it is landing on the moon, or finding your way, or taking a risk – Neil Armstrong nailed it.


Posted in America, geography, Inspiration, patriotism, Quotes | Tagged , , , | 52 Comments

The Sticky Bun Lady

Christmas Eve

every year for the past thirty years

the sticky bun lady delivers

her special Christmas treat.

Her children were my preschoolers

thirty-something years ago.

She made her famous sticky buns with the class

and the rest is history… and breakfast.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Giving thanks, Kindness, Love, preschool, Student alumni, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

The True Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Story of Rudolph

While there are slightly different variations on this true story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, most of this story is accurate.  More importantly, it is heartwarming and goes well beyond the making of the story – proof that it is far better to give than to receive.  Merry Christmas!


A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing.

Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?”

Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.

Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression.

Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums.

Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined to make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.

Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn’t end there either. Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.” The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.  The best is yet to come…


Posted in books, children's books, Death and dying, Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, Love, Singing, storytelling | Tagged , , , , | 66 Comments

Quotations On Kindness

The spirit of the season reminds us to spread kindness. May that spirit continue year round. Thank you, Charles French, for these excellent quotations on kindness.

charles french words reading and writing



“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”




“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

                                                                        Dalai Lama



“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”



“Try to add to the world by doing an act of kindness every day.”

                                                                         Charles F. French

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Our astronaut / veteran / Navy Captain / pen-pal has been ill and hospitalized.  I had to tell the children.  Life can throw you a bunch of curves, and learning how handle adversity is a life lesson.  That’s why I had to tell the children.

Immediately the children wanted to send him a card.  They were worried about him.  They didn’t want him to miss Christmas.  So we made him a big card.  Well, the children made it.  Actually they planned and designed the whole thing.

They told me the words to write on the cover.  Then, instead of drawing pictures on the card, children made individual pictures, cut them out, and glued them to the card.

If you look carefully, there are moons and stars, a Christmas tree, and even outer space. They know Jon well.

The best part was including photos of the children being astronauts in our home made spacecraft.  Of course they’re on their backs with a control panel and a phone to call Houston.

Landon wanted to draw a complete Christmas picture to cheer him up.

Christmas means giving, and making this card was a highlight of the week.  I won’t tell the parents that this meant as much if not more to them than the holiday gifts they made.

Act of giving something to others is an art of flowering your heart.


Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, military, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , | 81 Comments