Linking the Generations at School

Milly is a master quilter who regularly visits my classroom.  Over the years she and the children have designed and made some quilts that are incredible works of art.  One hangs in the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia.  Another hangs in the Fisher house in Boston.  Yet, the quilts are actually just one part of what she does so well.  She connects with children.  She is the link that brings young children and grandparents together; or in Milly’s case, great grandparents.  That’s so important.

It works both ways.  Grandparents and great grandparents have everything to teach children.  From the smallest story about school life to lessons of the world, they are telling it first-hand.  I’d give anything to spend time with Nan, my long gone grandmother, and I believe most adults feel the same way.  I have so many questions!  On the other hand, children bring  much joy to older generations.  I watch Milly light up like a Christmas tree when she is working and playing with children.  She laughs, and so do they.  This is win-win, or in my classroom love-love.  Milly made her first visit this week.  She taught the children to sew.  Here is the newsletter I sent home to families:

Milly Sewing IMG_0293

Milly made her visit to the Aqua Room today, and it was just wonderful. Milly has been a beloved friend to our classroom for many years. Actually, she is ‘Gloria’s’ best friend, and that’s how Milly’s visit began today; with a big fanfare from Gloria, shouts of ‘MILLY’ and spontaneous hugs. Your children loved watching the two of them greet each other.

The history of Milly began years ago when I visited the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont. Their exhibit was Haitian quilts, and I was thunderstruck because these quilts were murals, works of art. I’d never seen quilts like that. I just knew our classroom could design such a quilt, and it would be a perfect match for our theme of Peace. We spent months thinking about Peace, writing poems, and then actually designing a quilt. The problem was finding a quilter. Thank goodness I found Milly. She is a master quilter, with every stitch done by hand. More importantly, she loves the children, and they really love her!

That first quilt hangs in a national museum in Philadelphia. Really. Then, children were passionate about singing “God Bless America”. The journey of that song led to making yet another quilt with Milly, which hangs in the Fisher House in Boston. Many who know Fisher Houses would consider this a bigger honor than a museum. Finally, Milly and the children worked together to make a quilt about ‘our towns’, centered around GCS. That quilt hangs in our school’s hallway. We feel pretty lucky to have a ‘Milly quilt’!

This year we are embarking on another quilt. It will be more than wonderful, because the connections that Milly makes with children are magic. Today was only ‘day one’. Milly’s activity was sewing with the children. Here are a few things that happened:
• Hannah asked Milly if she could stay for nap.
• Kate was the first child to hug Milly goodbye. After that, the floodgates opened, and most children hugged Milly. Leni gave her three kisses.
• Luca spent the entire time sewing with Milly. He never left her side.
• Miles asked Milly how old she was. Milly was so excited to tell him she was 85. She laughed, and Miles did, too.

Today was just how it always is with Milly. Your children are fortunate. We’re so excited to be with Milly, and plan yet another quilt. That’s a big wow.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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