Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – “Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee

This week Jennie Fitzkee shares with us one of the teaching experiences which resulted in a wonderful suprise. A small child who noticed something in a masterpiece that Jennie has not noticed before….

“Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee

I will never underestimate children and art. This story is why.

I have been introducing a variety of styles of art to children as we prepare our annual Art Show for the community. Currently we are learning about France, and that’s a perfect opportunity to highlight art. We are creating ‘masterpieces’, allowing each child to work on his or her piece multiple times until they feel it is just right.

Each piece in itself holds a story, because the end result is often far more than what the child imagined, or what I expected. Sometimes a story is so remarkable, or so startling, that it needs to be told. This is one such story:

“It happened like this…” I use a record player to play record albums, thus bringing music to life in a tangible way for children. I wrote about this in a March, 2015 post. It is the best thing I do to introduce music, all types. Music inspires art, as music in itself fills the soul and the mind. At Morning Meeting I played Mozart (who inspired Einstein, by the way). Then we were ready to paint.

This day our art style was Early Renaissance. I stained wood panels and supplied plenty of gold acrylic paint, plus other colors, and sequins. This was the ‘real deal’. Liam carefully watched the first two children paint. He was anxious to paint, yet he was looking rather serious. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the plate, much like a ball player who had an important job to do. He asked for black paint. “Liam, I don’t have black paint. Here are the dark colors.” He looked carefully and picked navy blue. Hmm… Then he asked for ‘regular blue’ and a little gold. I asked him if he wanted any sequins. He said “No” in a firm voice, then looked directly at me as he pointed to the loft and said, “I’m painting THAT.”


“THAT” is Starry Night, our poster above the loft. No wonder he needed dark colors and ‘regular blue’ and some gold. Liam wanted to paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, not Early Renaissance art. Liam went to work, and I had the pleasure of watching him create with determination. I never said a word, except to offer more paint. He knew the colors he needed, and he wanted to make the brush strokes; the swirls, circles, and the serpentine strokes. Combining the right colors with the right brush strokes was his mission. Yes, Liam was determined in the best of ways. After his initial round, I knew this was destined to be a masterpiece.


Those eyes said, “I like what I’m doing, but I’m not finished.” And, he was not finished. Later, I took the poster off the wall and put it directly in front of Liam. As he studied the poster he asked for red paint. Red? Liam said, “There’s a red house at the bottom. I have to paint that.” In my decades of looking at Starry Night I never noticed the tiny red house at the bottom. Liam did. I gave him red paint, and he painted it.

Two children walked by Liam independently as he was finishing his masterpiece. They both remarked in a matter-of-fact way, “Hey, that’s Starry Night”. And, it is! I held the painting at a distance for Liam, as if people were looking at it in a museum. In Liam’s words, “Perfect. It’s finished.”


This is the pinnacle; listening, learning, wanting, trying, and achieving.


©Jennie Fitzkee 2016

About Jennie Fitzkee

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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If you are interested in joining Jennie and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives….. here is the link:


54 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – “Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Archives – “Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee – The Militant Negro™

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – “Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  3. I just love this post. Being the mother of a highly creative child (who is now an artist), this rang true and I am so grateful to the teachers who encouraged her creativity. Some amazing things happen when children are allowed to be creative. Liam’s story proves this.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. What an inspiring post by Jennie. Those observations of children tell us so much. Giving them the time to be master of their own creativity is so important. Jennie does it well. She’s an inspiration. I have a print of Starry Night on my wall too. It’s one of my favourite paintings. I also had to check for the little red house. Well done, Liam.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – St. Valentine’s Day Culinary treats, poetry and music. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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