Milly – Part 1

Our “This Land is Your Land” quilt was the last quilt my class made.
Let’s start at the beginning.
How did quilting in my classroom even begin?
It was a divergent pathway.

Every good story has a great backstory.  To know how Milly came into my life and tell you about her early years in my classroom, I have to back up and tell you what really happened.  It’s a great story, and began what would become a legacy.  Hang onto your hat!

“It happened like this…”

My husband and I were at a fall wedding in Philadelphia.  We had an hour to spare, and went to the historic district to visit Carpenters Hall. After the tour, we had ten or fifteen minutes until all the museums closed.  Directly across the street was the National Liberty Museum, so we headed over.  Walking into the museum I was thunderstruck by a magnificent Peace Portal.  I stood underneath, soaking in all the beauty.  The museum was closing, and I hadn’t moved from under the Peace Portal.

Image result for national liberty museum peace portal

“I can do this!” I told my husband.  “I need to do this in my classroom. We can build this on top of the loft.  It will be a place for children to go, to just be. Children need Peace.”

And so it came to pass.  I contacted the National Liberty Museum to get permission to recreate their Peace Portal.  They were thrilled.  Little did I know that Peace would become an enormous part of the lives of children.  They loved being on the loft- sitting, thinking, reading and playing under the Peace Portal we had made.  Children felt the same way that I felt under the “real” Peace Portal.


I decided to talk to children and ask them how Peace makes them feel.  Colin said, “Peace makes me feel hearty.”  I said, “So Peace makes you feel strong.  That’s terrific, Colin.”  He looked at me in frustration, patted his heart, and said, “No Jennie, Heart-y.”

Their thoughts were so remarkable that we made a Peace Poetry Book in the spring. It is card catalogued at the public library.  Our school year of Peace, from making a Peace Portal to writing a book of poetry was a very good year.

Little did I know, this was only the beginning.  The stage had been set for  Milly.
And little did I know that the museum would play a big role. 

The following fall my husband and I went to the Bennington Museum in Vermont to see their Grandma Moses collection.  We walked into the front entrance to see a display of Haitian Quilts.  These were murals, as detailed and stunning as a painting.  I was frozen. This must have been what the first people felt when they saw the ocean or the Grand Canyon.

“I know that look”, said my husband.  “Do you really think you can make one of these at school?”

“No, but we can design one.  Peace was a wonderful part of school last year, and the children wanted more.  This is IT.  We can make a Peace Quilt!”

We looked at each other and said in unison, “We need a quilter.”

Meeting Milly was not what I expected, and certainly meeting me was not what Milly expected at all…

Stay tuned for Part 2.


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 Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, museums, Peace, preschool, quilting, Teaching young children, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Milly – Part 1

  1. Definitely staying tuned!

  2. Norah says:

    I remember this story, Jennie. Just like with all favourites, I can’t wait for the next chapter!

  3. willedare says:

    We all need a peace portal! I am looking forward to the next installment…

    • Jennie says:

      I think we do. Standing under that gorgeous canopy was a moving experience. I’m so glad you’ll be following this adventure. Thank you, Will!

  4. quiall says:

    I’m thoroughly intrigued and anxiously waiting for the next part.

  5. K.L. Hale says:

    I love this! Can’t wait to read more. The world needs more Jennie’s teaching…and of course, peace. 💚🙏🏻

  6. Linda Kosinski says:

    Can’t wait to read Part II

    Linda Kosinski, Executive Director

    Groton Community School

    110 Boston Road, Groton, MA 01450

    (978) 448-6179

    [image: logo 60%]

    *From:* A Teacher’s Reflections *Sent:* Thursday, July 15, 2021 6:01 AM *To:* *Subject:* [New post] Milly – Part 1

    Jennie posted: “Our “This Land is Your Land” quilt was the last quilt my class made. Let’s start at the beginning. How did quilting in my classroom even begin? It was a divergent pathway. Every good story has a great backstory. To know how Milly came into my life an”

  7. Never a dull moment in your classroom!

  8. Darlene says:

    I remember this story well and am happy to read it again. And all your new readers will have the same joy we had back then. Thanks!!

  9. Such a wonderful story:)

  10. I remember this and want to hear it again. (Well, read it again) Thanks, Jennie.

  11. Your stories always give me goosebumps! I’ll be here for part II. 😀

  12. Dan Antion says:

    I remember the story, Jennie and I am happy to hear it again – nothing just happens, someone has to have an idea and the will to bring that idea to fruition.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you’re happy to hear the story again, Dan. I haven’t read this myself in quite a while, and I’m loving reading it again, too. You’re right that someone has to have the idea to make something happen. I do get thunderstruck in museums and ‘have to’ do something. 🙂

  13. Good stories are worth repeating! And oh yes, Colin is in it, too. Sweet! (heart emoji here if I knew how to make it)

    • Jennie says:

      I always say that good stories are meant to be read over and over again. Yes, Colin with the heart- never to be forgotten. ❤️ Thank you, Laura.

  14. I remember the Peace Portal story! I look forward to Part II.

  15. Carla says:

    I will stay tuned, I love your stories Jennie.

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    It’s fun for me to hear about how people like Milly get involved in a project. I can’t wait to meet her.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please follow Jennie’s series on Milly — through part 4!

  18. How wonderful it must be to waterski in the wake of your spontaneity! Kudos to your husband…points for style! 🙂

  19. Pingback: In praise of… crafts | TanGental

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s