Emma does Michelangelo


As I witness my granddaughter’s preschool learning curve, I am amazed at the advances in early childhood education. Things have come a long way from when my own kids came home with macaroni pieces glued to the lid of an old box and then spray painted gold.

Emma’s preschool has a curriculum – the kids learn about science, geology, math and art. So far, in the Year Four program, she has studied the work of Emily Carr, George Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh and now, Michelangelo. If Emma is to be any yardstick of learning, what the children take away from their exposure to the artists in question can be summarized in one word – hilarious. OK – maybe more than one word – rolling on the floor laughter.

seurat1[1]None of us will ever forget Emma’s dramatic lecture describing the founder of the school of pointillism – Georges Seurat. Standing by the fridge with a cheese stick in her hand, she explained to us in a very serious voice that all George Seurat did was paint – point by point by point. (I defy you to picture the cheese stick being used to illustrate this message without doubling over in laughter.) But there was more. He didn’t eat and he didn’t sleep and he didn’t even go out and play with his friends – just point, by point, by point. (If you could get through that display without rolling on the floor you are a more poker-faced person than I am.)

Let us fast forward to the month of February. Her class is to study the work of Michelangelo. Emma was having her hair washed in the bathtub the other night when her images[6]mom asked her, “How did you get all this paint behind your ears?” Emma said, “Well (You have to understand how she draws out the word well and then pauses for dramatic effect to really get how funny this sounds) – we aren’t doing George Seurat anymore – now we’re doing Michelangelo.”

(If you haven’t already dissolved into peals of laughter at the imagery provoked by the thought of a group of twenty preschoolers doing Georges Seurat then as I said before – you are in better control of your emotions than I.)


Emma went on to say, “Michelangelo painted ceilings. We went under the tables to paint over our heads.” OK, that explains the paint behind the ears. It was quiet for a moment and then she announced, “Michelangelo was a renaissance man.” (A four-year old in the bathtub saying the words renaissance man – I mean seriously – if you aren’t cracking up yet I’m getting a bit worried about you.)

The other day on the telephone, I thought I would follow up on the whole artist subject – scaffold and reinforce some important learning. I asked Emma to tell me what she knew about Leonardo da Vinci. There was a long pause and then her famous, “Well – I don’t know him. Maybe Papa does. I’ll ask him.” (Because of course her grandfather does know everyone!)

Not to be put off, I said, “I thought you were studying him in school. Didn’t he paint ceilings?” Her response was quick, “Do you mean Michelangelo, Grandma?” Oh silly me – corrected on who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by a preschooler. Shades of dementia may be creeping in or it is possible that I have entered an alternative universe.


Emma told me, “He was a sculptor, Grandma. He sculpted hearts and they looked so good you could eat them and he stuck them on the roof and one fell off and hit his dog.” This interesting little tidbit of information sent me running to the computer to do some Michelangelo research of my own. After all, I refuse to be outwitted by a four-year old – even if she is incredibly cute.

Michelangelo did indeed have a dog – an early breed of Pomeranian, this dog apparently watched him paint. I could find no mention of sculpted hearts that looked so good you could eat them or of a dog getting hit by anything falling from the ceiling. I did read that Michelangelo fell of a scaffold. It was unclear as to whether he landed on his dog or not. (Oh please – you have to be rolling on the floor laughing now.)

Emily Carr swirled greens and blues and Georges Seurat was a point by pointer. Vincent Van Gogh was stuck on the colour yellow and awash in stars. I am looking forward to seeing what Emma came up with when she was painting in the style of Michelangelo. But maybe it isn’t a painting at all – maybe it will be a sculpture of a heart that looks good enough to eat.


(all pictures – except for my beautifully pensive granddaughter – are courtesy of Google images)

16 comments on “Emma does Michelangelo

  1. tracycembor says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I was giggling all along the way.

    My daughter is two, and her preschool just finished a segment on Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculpter. Some of her art projects involved painting on bubble wrap or aluminum foil. They are taped on a wall in the kitchen, and my daughter likes to look at her artwork while she eats. I can’t wait until she is talkative as your precious granddaughter.

    • I’m so glad an Emma story could evoke giggles – she really does make me laugh with her antics. How amazing is it that two year olds are creating art that imitates glass sculpture and how wonderful to display your daughters work so she can take pleasure in her own creations. Though I like the funny aspects of these stories, the truth is that I am so amazed all the time by the way children learn – especially in relation to language. It is something that I was not fully able to appreciate when my own kids were little. With the granddaughters, I just fully indulge myself.

  2. Wow. I had no idea that children were getting this good an education so early. We have no children, and thus, of course, no grandchildren. But I would give a great deal to see what was painted underneath all those desks! What a creative teacher they have! I shall pass this along to a kindergarten teacher I know. Too in awe to be rolling around on the floor quite yet….

    • I was also amazed at this idea of having the kids get under a table to paint on paper taped up to the inside top of the table – making them feel like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. I’m going to visit next week and can’t wait to see what the class created. So glad to share an idea that might make its way to other children and classrooms.

  3. Frank says:

    Priceless Fran.
    We loved it. we have no grand children yet.. We may have to rent
    Frank & Bev

  4. Yes, schools have changed and, in many ways, for the better. Pessimists need to take a back seat on this one.

  5. What a delightful posting, Fran. You certainly had me chuckling. It’s amazing what children are learning in pre-school and kindergarten nowadays. My so-called “kindergarten days” in North Dakota in the 1940s consisted of sitting around the kitchen table with my two younger sisters and attending “Kindergarten Of The Air” on CBC radio out of Winnipeg. We loved it and it gave our mom a bit of a break from 3 girls (2 1/4 years apart in age). We sang, danced or marched, drew, coloured or painted and thought it was just great.

    My daughter Gwynne is a teacher at the British International School in Stavanger, Norway. Until her maternity leave she was an Infant One teacher (four year olds – the first grade in British schools). The kids learn to read and write during that year! Gwynne is now the primary school library teacher and also teaches ESL classes. Her son, Gustav Sebastian, is attending a Norwegian Barnehage (day care school) where he started as a one-year-old. Now, at 22 months’ old, his Norwegian dad is teaching him to ski. The Barnehage will have a ski day this week for the one and two-year-olds!

    I’ll be sure to share this blog with my daughter and also with Hannah, our 7-year-old great-granddaughter in Winnipeg (also a budding artist) who is doing some drawings for Ian’s book that I am presently blogging, “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie.” I’m hoping to put another chapter on our blog today.

    Keep us posted about Emma’s development as an artist and art affectionado.

    Cheers! Gayle Moore-Morrans

    • Thanks Gayle – always love to hear your stories. With granddaughter, Emma and her little sister, Brit on the way to be just as entertaining – there is no shortage of blog post topics. 🙂

  6. […] wife Francis (of disappearing in plain sight) is in Vancouver, BC visiting our grandkids. Here are a few photos from the typical 2 hour ferry […]

  7. […] would like a taste of Emma’s spunk, click here to go to my wife Francis’ hilarious post – Emma does Michelangelo. This little 4 year old gives an amazing impromptu lecture about famous painters, including George […]

  8. abigler42 says:

    I am definitely laughing old loud! I love it!

  9. […] funniest posts: Emma does Michelangelo and Baby Brit’s Bad […]

  10. […] would like a taste of Emma’s spunk, click here to go to my wife Francis’ hilarious post – Emma does Michelangelo. This little 4 year old gives an amazing impromptu lecture about famous painters, including George […]

I would really love to hear what you think about this post . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s