Primarily Mondrian

Hallie Cirino, 5’s Teacher, CHT Preschool, Westport, CT

My co-teacher, Sylvia Grannan, and I were a bit surprised that some of our students were still unsure of shape names by this time in the school year. A geometry unit was in order, and immediately Sylvia thought of Piet Mondrian. After displaying some of his paintings, the children made observations of Mondrian’s work:


Sadie, who has lived in NYC remarked, “It looks like apartment buildings and elevators.” Most of the other children noticed the concrete elements: colors, shapes, and lines. In truth, as we set out to find biographical information on Mondrian, we found that both he and the analysis of his work are so esoteric that it’s difficult to teach the children about the artist. However, we seized the opportunity to emphasize primary colors.

One day, Sylvia had the children close their eyes and said, “Imagine red. Just think about red.” The room was more or less silent for a minute or so, as our 5-year-olds pondered red. Sylvia gave the children a blank sheet of white paper and asked them to illustrate what they saw, and then write about it.




The children shared their results at circle time and then decided to put it all together into a class poem:

Red Is:

By the Unicorn Class, March 2014

Red is a face,

Red is a volcano erupting,

Red is anger,

Red is a zipper,

Red is butterflies,

Red is fire,

Red is our class color,

Red is a ladder,

Red is a sun,

Red is a meteor.

It was such a successful process; we did the same for yellow and blue. In addition, at the art center, we put out black electrical tape, and tempera paints in the primary colors. We found small, stiff canvasses, and the children went to town, taping their canvasses with vertical and horizontal lines and painting the resulting quadrangles. Here’s a display of several together: