Narrative Art and the Five-Year-Old

Coryn's latest thing with her pictures is story telling. She will draw a picture of something and then change it as the story progresses  .  . . sometimes to dark ends.

The best example of this I can think of was the other day when she did a pretty impressive (for a five-year-old) drawing of a seal jumping out of the water. There were waves and the sun in the sky and seal had the general shape and the correct number of appendages to be a seal (I guessed it was a mermaid at first based on similar drawings she has done in the past). It was an awesome drawing, but before I could make a photographic record of it or hang it on the fridge, the story took a sinister turn.

A few minutes later I looked down at the picture and there was a fin, a toothed fin no less (really scary animals don't keep their teeth in their mouths. They can be on portion of their body surface), emerging from the water.

"Is that a shark?" I  asked. She said that it was. "Oh no, your seal had better swim away!" I said. She said no, it was a friendly shark, so I left her adding teeth to the shark (she likes to draw things with lots of pointy teeth) to do something in the other room. Unfortunately, when we came back the shark had relapsed on its "seals are friends, not food" position and as a result Coryn had scribbled the seal out of the picture. "What happened to the seal? Why did you scribble all over him?" I asked, disappointed that I hadn't thought to record the seal before its grisly end.

"The shark ate him," she said simply.

this drawing is a mermaid, according to Coryn
A pair of dinosaurs met a similar end at the hand of one of their pointy toothed brethren. (Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal)

Even if the story line doesn't end in death and destruction, she has gotten into the habit of working her artwork to pieces. She'll start by drawing. Then out comes the scissors and glue and before you know it the entire picture has turned into  a collage which in turn gets shredded to bits and left on the dining room floor.

Sometimes I can salvage the tiny pieces of her art. I had her paste a bunch of them onto the cover of one of my notebooks which made it a practical piece of art.

I'm planning to do some art appreciation "studies." I have an easy lead in with a favorite Doctor Who episode regarding Vincent Van Gogh and I showed her some of Van Gogh's artwork on the computer which led to her doing her own version of the famous "Starry Night" painting.

I did help a little bit coloring in the sky and grass and then she asked me to make a house in the corner, so the house is mine too. Everything else is her interpretation of the painting.

I plan to make a trip to the library soon to get some art and artist themed books. I know there are some good ones devoted to Monet and Van Gogh and so I'm going to start with impressionists and work my way around in no particular order. I have found some coloring pages of famous artwork, but my printer hates me and will not print up black and white pictures because we are out of yellow ink. . .I have no idea where all the ink goes.

I'm easily distracted these days. I'm working on a couple of projects at once and I am still struggling to get Coryn reading. She is really bright and has an awesome memory, but phonics seems to trip her up for whatever reason. She is actually better at sight words (She can read some Spanish words due to the Spanish curriculum we've been using; she just remembers what they look like from worksheet to worksheet), but everything I read seems to point to straight phonics being the way to go if you want to avoid confusion and re-training later. 

I didn't expect reading to be such a frustration. I still really want to homeschool though. I am very good at introducing her to things that are fun, it's the practical stuff that gives me a hard time. If I can just get the reading down, I will feel confident to proceed.


  1. I found you on Diana's link party and share your interest in introducing children to the fine artists. Usborne has a great book that features significant works and then directs the child to experience the same technique in an original piece. I love your approach!

    1. Thanks. I'm working on a longer post reviewing the books we selected, similar to my selection of space books a few weeks ago I found a really awesome picture book that deals with several impressionist and which Coryn keeps asking to read over and over again.


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