Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Telling images: An ethnography of young children's creation of narratives in response to works of art

Faith T Wint, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study is to describe and interpret young children's shared narrative construction and story acting practices within an early childhood visual arts program. Narrative and story acting offer children unique opportunities to explore ideas, thoughts, and questions. Listening to children and trying to understand their perspectives, thought processes, and experiences is a necessary and vital way of illuminating our understanding of curriculum practice. Based on the researcher's kindergarten art workshop program, this inquiry specifically addresses: (a) What is the context (the structure and organization) of the shared narrative process to be studied? (b) What are the major themes that emerge in the children's small group narrative? (c) What does this collection of narratives tell about what these particular kindergarten students feel and think about their world? This study provided an ethnographic-type account of the young children's co-constructed narratives in response to works of art. The study included 18 children from a private Montessori school in the northeast. The kindergartners worked in three separate small groups of six. Each group took part in 9 sessions. The children ranged in age from 4.9 to 5.9 years old. The primary methodology is that of participant observation. The design of this project is exploratory, descriptive, and interpretive in nature. The data in this study was gathered via audiotape and observational field notes. Data analysis primarily consisted of reviewing field notes to identify themes, patterns, events, and actions in the children's narrative activities as well as to generate working hypotheses. The application of the coding system by Wolf (2002) aided classifying co-constructed conversational sequences in order to allow the frequencies of each category to be calculated and compared. Analysis consists of the three aspects of data transformation advanced by Wolcott (1994). This ethnographic research emphasized the importance of listening to children's voices.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Art education|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Wint, Faith T, "Telling images: An ethnography of young children's creation of narratives in response to works of art" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3212758.