A New Quilt – Part 4

In Part 3, we made a giant sketch for the quilt based on what the children felt were important parts of the song and the book, “This Land is Your Land.”  Woody’s guitar, the church from the ‘sad page’, landmarks in America, and even Gloria were most important to children.  Next, Donna the quilter arrived with fabrics.  I mean a truckload of beautiful, interesting fabrics, not the kind you or I would find at a regular fabric store.  Children had a heyday with the fabrics before getting down to serious selecting.

Then, Donna arrived with the face of the quilt, sewn just like the sketch, with the fabrics children had selected.  The last part, selecting fabric for the border and lettering, seemed the hardest for the children.  I wonder if Woody felt the same way when he selected the words to his song.   It was a wonderful day.

Part 4
The quilt was gone for a while.  Children felt like it was gone for a long time. We knew that it went to the ‘long arm machine’ and while we waited, we watched videos on YouTube that showed the machine at work.

This did not help at all.

And finally the quilt came back from the big machine, and came home to us.

Children were overwhelmed in the best of ways.  It took a long, long time for them to see everything.  There was so much more than when they last saw the face of the quilt.

Together we found the rays of the sun, the raised and sparkling fireworks, the waving kite tails, and twenty apples on the tree (for twenty children in our class).  Then we looked closely.  There are strings on Woody’s guitar.  Really. The quilting from the long arm machine makes smoke from the chimney, clouds in the sky, fish in the Gulf Stream waters, and pebbles in the desert. The land is lumpy and bumpy to represent hills.  The border is a decorated fabric.  So are the letters, and they are stiff and rough.  It is a wonder, from big to subtle.

The final piece was sewing a dedication onto the back, Donna’s words:

From the love for their community and their country,
an idea was born and this quilt was created.
The inspiration was the book and song,
This Land is Your Land.
With love and support from teachers and quilters,
the visions of the children were woven together through words,
drawings, music and finally fabric.
Our children have such wonderful dreams and inspirations.
The adults in their lives are honored to help their dreams come true.
April 2019
Groton Community School
Groton, Massachusetts

It is a quilt to be admired.  And it is, from many people.  I was directed to the Guthrie Center in Massachusetts.  “Jennie, you should tell them about this quilt.”  I did, and more importantly I told them about the song and passion children have for singing.  They forwarded my email to Arlo Guthrie’s company (Woody’s son) and I got an email from his daughter (she does his bookings) asking for more information.  I said something like, “How wonderful it would be for Arlo to hear children sing to him his father’s favorite song” and I invited him into my classroom to sign the quilt.  No word back.  I’m not holding my breath, but I am so very glad that I made the gesture, because I know that he would indeed be moved.

Children continue to be in love with the quilt.  Mia decided to make her own drawing.  The fireworks are on the left.  So is the house and our school.  The rainbow is in the center, and Gloria is holding the kite.

Our current chapter reading book is Little House on the Prairie.  Last week Pa finished building the house, except for the roof, floor, and door.  He and Ma put a quilt in the door hole.  Ethan, one of our younger children, immediately said, “Just like Donna’s quilt!”  He was so excited to make a quilt connection.  And those connections keep happening, every day.  Even Travis keeps singing the song when he comes, and children love it.

What a wonderful journey for the children.


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, Early Education, history, Imagination, Inspiration, music, patriotism, quilting, Singing, Teaching young children, The Arts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to A New Quilt – Part 4

  1. Norah says:

    It is a wonderful journey, Jennie. What a great tour guide you are. The quilt is just Glorious!

  2. The quilt is magnificent! Is it hanging in your classroom now?

  3. Thank you very much for the invitation to this wonderful journey, Jennie! They will remember this during their whole life. Have a nice Sunday! Michael

  4. magarisa says:

    Wow! The quilt is gorgeous!

  5. beetleypete says:

    Not much more to say, as it is all just great, and such an emotional journey. Something those youngsters will never forget, and a quilt that will hopefully last forever. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    What a beautiful quilt, and what wonderful memories these children will carry forward.

  7. delphini510 says:

    The quilt is beautiful and above all, the enthusiasm and togetherness between the children
    is fantastic. A wonderful gift to give the children for life.


  8. Ritu says:

    So so so precious Jennie ❤️

  9. Darlene says:

    The finished quilt is fabulous. Well done all of you. XO

  10. How beautiful!!! What a lovely quilt and so meaningful to the children. Thanks for describing it in better detail since those are hard to see. A wonderful project, Jennie. You’re amazing. ❤

  11. A beautiful quilt, Jennie, and a marvelous story of enthusiasm, dedication and creativity.

  12. ren says:

    “What a wonderful journey for the children”….and life lesson for everyone else!
    Thank you for taking time to share your experiences, Jennie! I know how often I benefit from them! Bless you for reaching out to the Guthrie Center. Arlo would be so honored to experience your classroom and quilt. Only good can come from your gesture. Hugs to you all and Donna did a dynamite job.

    • Jennie says:

      That is so nice, Ren. I truly appreciate all your words! If Arlo does reply, that would be amazing, for him as well as the children. Yes, I’m glad I reached out. Hugs to you. 🙂

  13. I didn’t know about quilting until I was an adult. How lucky are these children, not only to learn what quilting is, but to have a creative quilt like this made with their input, so they feel a special ownership in the project. Absolutely wonderful job, Jennie.

  14. I am so completely overwhelmed by how well you, the children and Donna made this vision come to life in a most profound way! The quilt is stunning from beginning to end. Donna’s quilt label says so much that the journey this vision has taken will never be lost. You should all be so very proud.

    • Jennie says:

      Your words ring very true, Marlene. Overwhelmed. Donna’s words that she put on the back of the quilt were so powerful. They really summed up everything. It was hard for me to have a dry eye when I read it. Profound. It all came to life in a most stunning way. Donna, like Milly, tackled quilting that was completely outside of their box… and they loved it. The vision and the subsequent journey will be remembered. Thank you so much, Marlene.

  15. Ellen says:

    Your delightful quilting tales have never failed to bring a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes, and so it has continued with this quilt too! Donna’s words on the back are exquisitely perfect. I truly believe that Milly is smiling, guiding and blessing this work from afar. I have said this before, but it bears repeating : every classroom should have a Jennie! It has been my pleasure to share another beautiful quilting journey from the beginning to the end. I should like to think that it is only the ending of this particular quilting project and it will lead to the beginning of many others. Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Ellen! I’m glad this quilting journey brought the same emotions and love to you as it did to teachers and children. Yes, I am sure Milly is smiling. She was there all along. If my blog posts, my experiences, reach other teachers, that is a good thing! And perhaps there will be another quilt – it all comes about from the children. 🙂

  16. A beautiful story, Jennie.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for sharing this extraordinary journey and lesson! I wish all teachers would read your blog.

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is part 4 in Jennie’s story of the quilt!

  19. This experience will remain unforgettable in their hearts. Surely this is a sensitivity bonding and so important for human relationships. ❤❤❤❤❤

  20. Opher says:

    What a fabulous quilt!! You couldn’t make one for me could you!

  21. All of the above and then some – I want to mention that as a dabbler in quilting, I can easily see Donna is a quick quilter…wow! The entire journey from vision to kid-collaboration to design to etc etc etc and then the actual piecing (which is more time consuming than that last bit of long arm quilting) wow.
    I clicked on the image to enlarge the guitar…fun detail!
    Maybe before you guys hang it up permanently, ‘pass the quilt’ to each kiddo for cuddles. I mean, that’s really what quilts are all about.
    Enjoy the fruits of your, your helpers and your kiddos labors!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you were able to enlarge the quilt and see the detail. Donna is quick. And good. The whole journey was remarkable! Not sure about passing the quilt to the children, but I know just what you mean. Thank you, Laura! 🙂

  22. abbiosbiston says:

    That quilt is stunning!

  23. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    If you have been following the progress of the quilt being made by the children in Jennie Fitzkee’s class. .here is part four… what a wonderful project.

  24. dgkaye says:

    Just beautiful Jennie, and the sewed in inscription was the cherry on the cake 🙂 x

  25. petespringerauthor says:

    Great project, Jennie. These are the kinds of memories kids never forget. I worked with another teacher who did a class quilt each year. All of the students in her class contributed a square to the quilt.

  26. srbottch says:

    Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Great work, Jennie, although something tells me that it’s not ‘work’…

  27. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful journey indeed, Jennie! The quilt is beyond awesome! And I love the dedication on the back too! Adults can feel honoured to make their children’s dreams come true. 😄

  28. A wonderful journey indeed! I love the new quilt with Donna’s personality showing through the stitches. How cool that the kids got to see a video of that kind of sewing machine. Huge hugs.

  29. petespringerauthor says:

    I love all your posts, Jennie, and your wonderful ideas. I taught grades 2-6 during my career, but I always tried to find a buddy teacher to work with each year because the rewards were immense. One of my best friends, Paul, was a fabulous kindergarten teacher who baked bread daily with his students. Our classes would often get together and have sing-a-longs. We sang This Land is Your Land many times.

    • Jennie says:

      Oh my goodness! I needed to be with you and Paul in the classroom. Really! Baking bread every day and having sing-a-longs? That’s what matters most. Did you and Paul sing all six verses of This Land is Your Land? Most people only know the first three. My class this year is consumed with every verse. Even after making a quilt, they can’t get enough. On a side note, I invited Arlo Guthrie to come and hear us sing and sign the quilt. He lives in western Massachusetts. His daughter does his bookings and contacted me, but nothing. Hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. If you are still in touch with Paul, please give him my best. Best to you, Pete.

      • petespringerauthor says:

        The old memory isn’t quite what it used to be, but I believe we sang all six verses. This was cross age tutoring for us. I taught lots of grades, but I’m guessing I was teaching 4th or 5th when my students had little buddies. I’m not sure what schools are like in your neck of the woods, but Paul was one of the few male teachers in kindergarten at the time. I always like to see a mixture of male/female teachers throughout the grades. I also come from the school of “it doesn’t hurt to try.”

      • Jennie says:

        It is not common to find a male kindergarten teacher, although I wish it were. Children desperately need more male figures in their lives. We do have “buddies”, pairing older and younger children. That is a wonderful experience for children. I’m glad you sang all the verses to the song! You have had a great teaching career and made a difference with children. Not many people can say that! Best to you, Pete.

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