June 20, 2011

What's In A Picture?

Using 3 simple questions my bilingual Kindergarteners were able to discover all about Vincent Van Gogh without me TELLING them a single thing.

I stole these questions from a variety of workshops and readings. I mixed and matched the best critique questions and here are my favorites.

The first is "What do you see?" Students each say one thing "I see a . . . "

Here were some of there responses to this painting.

"I see a man." "I see a coat." "I see a hat." "I see a painting." "I see a white cloth around his face."

Now here comes the second question.

"Can you tell me more about that?" 
"The painting is on the wall and has people in it. The people look like they might be from China."
"He is wearing a coat that is old and a hat with fur on it." 
"He is inside a house with a coat on."

"What makes you say that?"
This is my FAVORITE question. One student said the man was in a house. I said, "What makes you say that?" He said, "There's a picture on the wall." Another kid chimed in, "But he's wearing a coat!" I said, "Could he be wearing a coat in the house?" They all agreed that was possible and then I asked, "Why would he wear a coat in the house." Most agreed that it must be cold. "Why is cold in the house." Now, this is the part of the conversation that amazed me. All the kids agreed that he doesn't have money to heat his house and there were "bills" he couldn't pay so he had to wear his coat until the heat got turned on. These kids were in Kindergarten mind you. . . very street smart for 5 year olds!

I'll save you the whole conversation but this is what the kids decided in the end.

It was a painting of a poor man who liked art work from China. He lived somewhere cold and was not happy. Something happened to the side of his head which must've hurt a lot. 
Not to bad for a quick observation of Van Gogh's famous Self Portrait! Kindergarteners are ready for first grade.

These are my best questions. . . what are yours?


Allison said...

I love these questions! What great and simple ways to get kids to talk about art - it seems like there is less and less time for that these days. Your questions remind me of a class I took on Visual Thinking Strategies - http://www.vtshome.org/ - a method used by general ed teachers (and of course art teachers!) to improve critical thinking skills by looking and and talking about art!

Barbara's Thought of the Day said...

I'm so excited by the comment you left on my blog! I'm going to try using them, too. I know the small balloons are the most temperamental, so it would be a toss-up if they would work on this size balloon but you could certainly try it. Please let me know what you discover.
I'm going to try going bigger and adding some recycled bags. I'm going to take the small one apart to make the bigger one.
This is my e mail barbarachilds1@juno.com
Have fun!

Stephanie said...

VERY impressive. Looks like your kinders successfully completed some art critiquing all the way to interpreting and judging - something it was hard to get high school students to do while I was interning! AWESOME!

Janie B said...

Great questions and answers. You just never know what kids are thinking.

Phyl said...

We started talking about Van Gogh today. I think it's great how easy he is for kids to figure out. They can tell he looks angry/sad in all his self-portraits, and they always seem to figure out that he was depressed or unhappy, which is odd because so many of the paintings I showed the kids were lively colorful landscapes and still lifes. Yet somehow they knew.