The Real Start of Teaching the Fourth of July – 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, American flag, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, quilting, Singing, Teaching young children, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to The Real Start of Teaching the Fourth of July – Part 4

  1. barbtaub says:

    I don’t know why this wonderful story makes me cry but I 💕 💗 ❤️ LOVE every word. The quilt is a wonder that your lucky students will never forget. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    • Jennie says:

      Awww…❤️ Thank you, Barb. I’m so glad you loved the whole story. It was a terrific journey. Stay tuned as I go back to the beginning. 🥰

  2. Ritu says:

    So, so wonderful 🥰

  3. Darlene says:

    The quilt is amazing!! I love the details. Where is this one hanging?

  4. beetleypete says:

    It doesn’t get more heartwarming than this, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. GP says:

    It is far more than a quilt to be admired – it gives hope for the future to all generations!

  6. beth says:

    This gave me chills and is so beautiful. This will be imprinted on your students forever

  7. Dan Antion says:

    Those children will connect to those memories throughout their lives, Jennie. That’s what you’ve given them by letting them do this.

  8. willedare says:

    What a terrific, creative, musical, collaborative journey! I love the idea of “a quilt connection” by Ethan…

  9. srbottch says:

    Fast forward years to hear the familiar refrain of a parent/grandparent telling their youngster, ‘Why, I remember a great teacher who helped us build a quilt. Want to go see it?’ Wonderful, wonderful, Jennie!

  10. Such a wonderful, patriotic project, designed to teach children that it is good and right to love their country.

  11. So touching story 🌷👌😊🙏happy weekend 🌹

  12. Oh, Jennie, it’s so beautiful. I cried, and still have goosebumps!! It’s priceless.

  13. quiall says:

    And a treasure is born. Donna’s words are perfect and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Don Ostertag says:

    Such a beloved work of art and teaching tool, Jeanie. Something that the children will remember all their lives and also the teacher that gave them foundation of real education. Woody, Gloria, and all the people connected to this project, take a bow.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Don. Parents couldn’t buy the book fast enough for their child. When it takes a full year, from falling in love with a song and book, to actually making a quilt- well, those are great moments in teaching for children. I’ll always remember this. Gloria is all smiles. Donna is, too. I think Woody is smiling from above. I hope you stay tuned when I go back to the beginning, Don.

  15. Wonderful, indeed! 💞

  16. What a gorgeous quilt, Jennie, and amazing experience for the kids. I think this is becoming a “thing.”

  17. Wouldn’t it be fun for the kids, yourself AND Arlo if he came to your class to hear the singing? And I’m going off on a limb here, but how’s about letting your kiddos hear one of his ‘fun’ songs – you know, the pickle oops I mean motorcycle song?
    I dunno, Alice’s Restaurant is more for older kids IMHO!
    (here’s the pickle song for easy reference):

    BTW: It looks like Donna’s doing a great job with her being the new ‘quilt mom’.

  18. This has been the loveliest teaching story Jennie, well done to the children!

  19. Thats wonderful, and for sure a unforgettable event for the students too. Well done, Jennie! Have a beautiful weekend! xx Michael

  20. It was a wonderful journey. Jennie. I hope with the changes going on in the educational system; such a beautiful message won’t be lost. This is our land, meant for everyone.

  21. Carla says:

    What a wonderful experience. Reading about your process was delightful and the finished product is gorgeous. The message of love of country is one that will never be forgotten. Thanks for sharing this project with us.

  22. petespringerauthor says:

    “Just like Donna’s quilt!” I can see the excitement in that child’s eyes as she made this observation (not to mention the enthusiastic teacher who knew what a precious moment that was and made the lessons all the more worthwhile.)

  23. vrolikenote says:

    Wow, wow, WOW! Brilliant teaching!

  24. Norah says:

    It is a wonderful journey, Jennie, and a beautiful quilt.

  25. dgkaye says:

    Beautiful story Jennie. The quilt is a legacy for all to remember. ❤

  26. Wow, Jennie, this quilt is truly amazing. How lovely that you managed to create this all together.

  27. Heart warming. How everyday becomes a brick, a rock we only get to know in months and years. Thank you for this. Lovely work Jennie.

    Nara x

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