A New Quilt – Part 3

In Part 2, after the song had become all-consuming for children, I told Naomi about the one time this had happened before, eight years ago.  A song was  beloved to children.  They couldn’t get enough.  And so, we made a quilt.  That was a lightbulb moment, and sparked another quilting journey.  Milly the quilter had died, yet she made her presence to give approval to this new venture and to handing the reins over to Donna.  Children began to design the quilt by listing all the parts of the song and the book that they felt should be included.  This was the most important part of all!

Part 3:
We made a giant sketch.  This was hard, as we had to put children’s ideas, that whole list of important parts, onto paper.  Every component was important, from footsteps (“I followed my footsteps”) to the Redwood Forest, Gulf Stream waters, and the church on the ‘sad page’.  Groton Community School and Gloria are included.  She’s flying a kite.  The Statue of Liberty is prominent, and the central figure in the quilt is a home with the American flag.  Woody’s guitar will rest along the house.

Children were insistent on including Woody’s guitar.  They are fascinated with Woody, and ask questions about him all the time.  “Jennie, does Woody have children?”  I explained how he was a little older than my mother, so his children were close to my age.  That took a while to sink in.  The Woody questions haven’t stopped.

After the sketch was complete, children colored it in.  In that way, it solidified all their ideas and dreams about the quilt.  Coloring is a soulful experience.


After the sketch was complete and children were satisfied, the next step was selecting fabrics.  What a glorious adventure!  Those days were like being in an open air market, full of colorful items.  Really, it was like Christmas morning with more than the eye could see.


Once children finished exploring all the fabrics, it was time to settle down and do some serious selecting.  This process took two days.  Every part of the quilt required a choice, from the chimney of the house to fireworks to the sparkling sand of the diamond desert.  Everything.


When Donna finished many of the parts on the face of the quilt, she brought in all the pieces, and children watched as she placed them together – like a jig saw puzzle.  If something was put in the wrong spot, children immediately knew.  “No, that’s not where Woody’s guitar goes.”  Donna asked the children. “What’s missing?”  They knew – the apples on the tree, fireworks, and more.  There’s no tricking these children.  The song and the quilt are far too important to them.

Once every thing was sewn into place, we had one last look before it headed to the ‘long arm machine’ for the quilting and intricate stitching.  But first we still had to choose fabric for the border and for the lettering, THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND.  That was the hardest choice of all.

Stay tuned for Part 4 and the unveiling of the quilt.  It is far different than what I imagined.  I cried.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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58 Responses to A New Quilt – Part 3

  1. beetleypete says:

    I knew you would cry… 🙂
    Looking forward to part 4!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      In spite of my ‘more English than American upbringing’ (Americans didn’t have the culture and the strength of the British), I did cry. My mother in heaven is not pleased with me, to be sure. But I am. Thank you, Pete!

  2. TanGental says:

    We’re currently surrounded by quilts, material, wadding… you name it and your children’s quilt is the perfect read alongside this. Like you activity is intense – a wedding is coming as you know – but nothing stops the boss from her quilts. Theres one going to South Africa for SOS children’s villages, one as part of her quilt groups promise to create incubator quilts that cover prem baby incubators at our local hospital, and one a group effort that will be raffled for charity. Quilting to me is a wonder of nature and yours is a flowering cherry of a piece, Jennie

    • Jennie says:

      How wonderful, Geoff! Incubator quilts and South Africa children’s villages – wow! Quilting is a wonder to me as well. Somehow I just seem to be there to make things happen. And quilts do a world of good, as you know. Thank you, I love your description of a flowering cherry of a piece. More to come. 🙂

  3. I wonder whether playing a recording of Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans” might be interesting for your students. Then they would know that Woody’s son makes music, too.

    I’m enjoying these stories.

    • Jennie says:

      A good thought, Sharon. We have invited Arlo to come into the classroom so we can sing his father’s song to him. That would be wonderful, yet may not happen.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    They look like they’re having so much fun. What a great project.

  5. A beautiful project.

  6. Darlene says:

    I love how the children are so involved. So often adults tend to take over and just show them the finished product. This way these kids will know it is their quilt! I agree a song by Arlo Guthrie would be a great idea. Of course, you cried!

    • Jennie says:

      Exactly, Darlene! When children can make the decisions and make this happen, that is so important. Then, it is their quilt. Arlo has an invitation to come and hear us sing his father’s song to him, and sign the quilt. Who knows if he will be able to do that. Yes, I cried happy tears. 🙂

  7. Love this Jennie. Can’t wait for the next session.

  8. Sarah says:

    Aww – Jennie, this is so wonderful! I’ve been looking forward to this post so much, hoping it would include a sketch or two and wasn’t disappointed! 😄 And I love that you said that colouring is soulful – it really is!! This quilt is going to be amazing! Everything’s so lovely but my secret favourite part is Gloria flying a kite. 😄 Can’t wait for the unveiling!!

    • Jennie says:

      My favorite sentence was writing that coloring is soulful. It is! I’m so glad you liked the quilt sketches and the story. Yes, you found Gloria flying the kite! You will love the quilt, Sarah. The quilter bring in the finished quilt today. I’ll take plenty of photos. 🙂

  9. Ellen says:

    Of all the lovely stories that I have read on your blog, actually each and every one, the Milly stories have always been amongst my favorites. When I began reading this new quilting adventure, I knew that it would be magnificently heartwarming too. I await the unveiling of this quilt and expect that along with mine, many of your followers tears will flow as well. “A tear is made of 1% water and 99% feelings.” – Unknown. Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ellen! The Milly stories are among my favorite, too. I miss her so. And I know she is looking down and smiling at this quilt. I’m so glad you have been along for this new quilting adventure. The unveiling will be a wonderful delight for the eyes and the heart. I just might cry again. Love the quote!

  10. Opher says:

    I’m loving this Jennie!! And the guitar leaning on the wall!!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Opher. I have invited Arlo to sign the quilt, and to hear the children sing his dad’s favorite song. Wouldn’t that be something?! I’ll let you know if he accepts the invitation. Woody’s guitar is one of the children’s favorite parts of the quilt. 🙂

  11. Ritu says:

    Such a wonderful process! 😍

  12. The process of selecting the fabrics must have taught the children collaboration and compromise as well? I do hope Arlo is able to accept your invitation. What a thrill that would be! I look forward to the unveiling of the finished quilt.

  13. Just amazing to see how this is all coming together Jennie.. I can see how the children as well as yourself included are so enjoying this project.. Such a wonderful lasting expression of creative art which holds such meaning behind it..
    ❤ Wishing you a happy week and weekend to come.. ❤

  14. The Hook says:

    What a great project for the little ones.
    I’m looking forward to Part Four.

  15. Wow. It looks so great. I enjoyed seeing the steps, Jennie, and the kids all taking part in the creative process. What a fun project. I’m looking forward to part 4. 🙂

  16. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this continuing story of this wonderful project!

  17. What a wonderful project, Jennie. I am looking forward to seeing the final product. My dad creates marvelous quilts too.

  18. A perfect inspire for formidable young minds and a heartful reminder to us all.

  19. Athira says:

    Hello Jennie…Its really cute to read your writings…

  20. Norah says:

    Jennie, this is such a beautiful project, and so meaningful for the children. I can’t wait to see the finished quilt.
    BTW, I’ve never asked: How many children do you have in your class?

    • Jennie says:

      The “official” unveiling for children and families is today and tomorrow. I’ll post the final part in a few days. I have 20 children in my class, but 15 come each day. Some come MWF, and some TTh. Thank you, Norah.

      • Norah says:

        I look forward to reading about the unveiling, Jennie. How exciting for all of you.
        Thanks for clarifying your numbers. Smaller groups like that allow much more personal attention. It’s how it should be. 🙂

  21. dgkaye says:

    You’re already making me cry! 🙂 xx

  22. Oh, that’s going to be beautiful. The kids must be so proud to have such a big part in creating it.

  23. srbottch says:

    Great story, Jennie. You keep outdoing yourself. I enjoy the photos of you surrounded by the kids. It must make you happy.

  24. Sorry to be so scarce, Jennie. Catching up. This new quilt is wonderful! Hugs.

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