A New Quilt – Part 2

In Part 1, children embraced the song “This Land is Your Land” as their own.  They sang the song every day, multiple times a day.  By the time winter arrived, they had ‘taken over’, and constantly used the book This Land is Your Land when they sang.  The book brings American landmarks and history to life, and it also depicts humanity, the good and the bad.  Children love the ‘sad page’, and the ensuing verse that gives us all hope and reminds us of what we can do, together.  In my classroom, the song just keeps on going.

Part 2:
It was a regular morning in the classroom.  Children were finishing snack.  The routine is they get a book and have silent reading (or not so silent) while other children finish their snack.  Of course there are a few children who try to eat quickly so they can have first dibs on a book.  This Land is Your Land is always the first to get picked.  And, it’s hard to read the book and not sing, or at least hum.  On this particular morning, multiply that tenfold.

I remarked to Naomi, my assistant teacher, “The last time children were so vested in a song and couldn’t get enough was eight years ago.  I had to do something, do more.  Milly the quilter made a quilt.”

Lightbulb moment:  Of course, a quilt!

I told Naomi all about the quilting adventure with Milly eight years ago.

“But Jennie, Milly died.  We don’t have a quilter.”

“I think we might.  Remember Donna?  Years ago when she came into the classroom to make pasta with the children I asked her if she would be willing to be a Milly, a grandparent figure, if and when Milly was unable to do so.  She is wonderful.  And, she’s a quilter.”

“Donna really is wonderful.  I had no idea she was a quilter.  Wow.  That would be awesome.”

Naomi took the children to the hallway to get their coats and get ready to go outside.  I was in the classroom, feeling like I had found buried treasure, or solved the mysteries of Stonehenge, or something like that.  And then I was hit by a tidal wave of feeling, not by me – by Milly.  For a moment she was there, and I knew she was giving me her approval.  I could feel her smiling.  It was time to move forward and pass the torch.  And then she was gone.  Just like that.  Well… I just said under my breath, “Thank you, Milly.”

This just doesn’t happen.  Spirits aren’t real.  But it did.  And they are.

Naomi came back into the room.  “Jennie, what happened?  Are you okay?”  I said, “Milly was here.  She gave me her approval.  She was happy.”

Next, I needed to call Donna.  Her first words were, “When Milly died, I was waiting for you to call me.  I thought you would ask me.”  I told her everything.  Donna knew Milly and always remarked about her quilts.  Then Donna said, “I’ve never done anything like that before.  I’m up for the challenge.”

Those were exactly the words Milly had said to me many years ago – was that an omen?

And so, we began a quilting journey.  First, we gathered the children, and Donna, in a big meeting.  To my surprise, Donna asked if ‘Gloria’ could come, too.  Gloria was thrilled.  So were the children.  We sang the song while holding the book.  Then came the big moment to introduce a quilt.  I don’t tell children, I ask children, and I asked them if they would like to make a quilt about their favorite book.  That was like asking them if they wanted to help Santa Claus deliver presents.

“Donna can sew the quilt.  What should we have in the quilt?”  Every child couldn’t wait.  They had to shout out their ideas.  They were so excited!  Here is their list:

American flag
Gulf stream waters
Statue of Liberty
Our school
Ribbon of highway
Foot steps
Sparkling sand
Wheat fields
Dust clouds

The list is a wonderful collection of both the song and the book.  The children were spot on!

Next, we made a giant sketch of all our ideas.  Pen to paper.  Ideas to paper.  Heart to paper.

Stay tuned for Part 3.


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.
This entry was posted in America, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, music, patriotism, Peace, picture books, quilting, Singing, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to A New Quilt – Part 2

  1. Ritu says:

    Love that the spirit of Milly lives on 😍

  2. Opher says:

    What a great song to make a quilt of!! Fabulous!!

  3. Darlene says:

    I can’t wait to see the final product! I love that Millie approved. It was time for another quilt. A sweet moment. The enthusiasm of the children must be contagious. xo

  4. Norah says:

    This is so exciting, Jennie. I can’t wait to see the quilt that Donna makes with the children. It’s time. Milly told you so.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    You are so fortunate to have such great friends-of-the-classroom. I’m looking forward to Part-3. I love the way you bring out the kids’ imaginations.

  6. I love the spiritual side of this journey, Jennie. It is going to be great.

  7. What a wonderful idea!

  8. I am quite sure Millie did give you her approval. She is smiling down from Heaven. I am looking forward to seeing your progress with this project.

  9. ren says:

    You got the “Milly approval”! Isn’t that one of the most grandest sensations? A quick ‘download’ of knowingness. Certainly, she will be with all of you, on your new quilt journey.

    And I am very excited for Gloria’s participation in the quilt AND being on the list. Give her a hug for me, would ya?

    • Jennie says:

      That was definitely the grandest sensation. Big wow! And who knew Gloria would be on the list?! I will definitely give her a big hug. 😍. Thank you, Ren!

  10. I am so excited for all of you. How wonderful for Donna to step up to the plate and make on for the team. Of course Millie was there giving approval. Energy never dies, it just changes form. Spirit energy is very real. I’m sure Millie is guiding all of you. Have lots of fun with this. 😉

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marlene. I love your words, “energy never dies, it just changes form.” Yes, spirit is real. Donna is doing a fabulous job. The quilt is at the ‘long arm’ right now. Hand sewing when it returns.

  11. srbottch says:

    Donna is the ‘next batter on deck’ to take Millie’s place. Good find, Coach Jennie. The saga continues.

  12. Wonderful Jennie and have pressed for later today… I wish I could meet your children in person… hugsx

  13. beetleypete says:

    Milly would so love this. And her spirit will live on in Donna’s new quilt. Wonderful stuff!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  14. Quilters (he)arts are huge…even when spirited across the Great Divide.
    And now, introducing – Donna, Gloria and the kiddos new venture into a classroom quilt.

  15. Jenny, what a lovely new project, I so loved the one you shared about Milly in the past, and these children I am certain will love the process and the quilt will be awesome.. I am so excited for you..
    love to you all ❤

  16. willedare says:

    THANK YOU for another uplifting — on so many different levels — post! Hurrah for engaged, heartful, passionate learning! I also loved reading everyone’s feedback/comments (especially “Energy never dies, it just changes form. Spirit energy is very real.”)

  17. Aww. I’m so excited for the new quilt. How lovely!

  18. dgkaye says:

    Jennie, I got goosebumps at your ‘Milly moment’. Spirits do work in mysterious ways. ❤

    • Jennie says:

      It was sudden, unexpected, and oh so wonderful. It seemed as if Milly waited till Naomi and the children left the room before she came. Her presence was strong. Spirits certainly must work in mysterious ways. Thanks, Debby!

  19. Oh the energy of your classroom, it is so fabulous.

  20. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is simply wonderful!

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Jennie, that extraordinary teacher, once again has given us a wonderful post!

  22. In the “olden days” they believed that weavers had supernatural powers…I now think that descends to quilters (of which my mother was one)… They seem to hover with angelic embraces, just outside the corners of our eyes. Thank Heaven for quilters, who piece our lives with stitches of pure love.

    • Jennie says:

      I did not know that, KC. It really makes sense. The master hand quilter of today is the weaver of yesteryear. And they are the wise ones. Surely Milly and your mother have already met each other. They have the touch, and they ‘just know’. Really. No wonder their stitches spread love.

  23. I can’t wait to see this creation coming together. I’m just wondering what inspired the last quilt?

  24. Sarah says:

    Aww – this is so sweet! How lovely that Milly visited you in spirit to let you know that she approved. And I’m sure Donna will do her justice! Can’t wait to see the new quilt!! 😄

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