“Who remembers which country we are studying?” a teacher inquired to the children. One child raised his hand and proudly shared, “Thailand!” The children have been learning about the beautiful and fascinating culture of Thailand. They’re been making Thai flags, exploring Thai play foods, learning about Thai textiles and more. One of our Preschool students recently visited family in Thailand and has been especially excited to share his knowledge of the country with his peers.
One of our recent Cultural presentations included a reading of the beloved story The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Yim Bridges. The story is about a little Thai girl named Noot who wants to paint umbrellas like her mother and the other girls and women in her village. She hopes she might be chosen by the king as this year’s Umbrella Queen. At first she creates serene flowers and butterflies just like her mother until her imagination takes over and she begins to paint whimsical scenes with elephants. Her family discourages her as they depend on the traditionally painted umbrellas for their livelihood. Noot obeys yet stays up into the evening painting tiny umbrellas with elephants and leaves them on her windowsill. When the king arrives he carefully examines all of the beautiful umbrellas when Noot’s tiny umbrellas catch his eye. He presents her with the title because she “paints from her heart”.
The children smiled and were delighted with the happy ending. We discussed how art is about creating from your heart. The children agreed that the things we create are more interesting and special when they are all unique. They were invited to make their own tiny umbrella with oil pastels, collage pieces and sequins. Their umbrellas were certainly true works of art!