Milly – Part 2

In Part 1, I discovered a Peace Portal at a museum and recreated it in my classroom.  Peace became a big deal and very real to children.  When I saw quilts that were murals, I knew I had to make a Peace Quilt with children.  The only problem was finding a quilter.  At last I met Milly.  It was an unexpected meeting.

Part 2

“Milly is the best quilter, not just in town but everywhere.” said the director of the Senior Center.

“Great!  When can I stop by and meet her?”

“She’ll be here on Wednesday with her quilting group.”

Wednesday couldn’t come fast enough for me.  As soon as school was over, I was there.  I walked over to Milly and introduced myself.  She smiled (sort of) and I bounced around, telling her all about the Haitian quilts I had seen at the Bennington Museum.  I was so excited!  I showed her photos of the quilts, spewing story after story of each one and their art.  I noticed that the other quilters were looking down at their work, sewing like mad, as if making eye contact with me would bring a plague upon the group.

The more I talked, the faster they sewed, and the lower their heads dropped.  All six of them.  Hmm…  Milly hadn’t said a word.  Not One Word.  It occurred to me that perhaps I was behaving like a child who had been let loose in an amusement park.  But, this was such a terrific idea.  And those quilts were stunning.  Each one told a story.  Here are but a few:

I finally stopped, not sure what else to say.  Clearly I had overwhelmed if not alienated Milly and her fellow quilters.  I put the brakes on and told Milly all about the Peace Portal, and how making a Peace Quilt would be the culmination of all we had done in the classroom.  I held my breath.  I asked, “So what do you think?”

Milly quietly put down her sewing.  I’ll never forget what she said to me, her very first words:

“I am a traditional quilter.  I quilt blocks, squares.  I have never seen or done any quilting like that.  This would be completely new and different – a challenge – and I’d like that challenge.  Yes, I will do this.”

And so, a Peace Quilt was about to be created.  First, the children had to design the quilt. What does Peace look like?  How does Peace make you feel?  How was I going to link that concept of Peace to a quilt?  How would I start?  What would I say to children?  After all, the Peace Portal was last year, and many of the children were new.  And then it came to me.  I knew right away.

Of course… Gloria!

Yes!  Gloria has a blanket.  We always called it her blankie.  What if she wanted to call it her quilt, her Peace Quilt, because it makes her feel so good…peaceful.  Brilliant, Gloria.

Milly came to meet the children, meet Gloria, and hear all about her idea.  I have never seen a friendship develop so quickly.  Milly and Gloria hit it off right from the start.  We gathered for a group meeting. The conversation went something like this:

Gloria (she’s a little frustrated):  “Everybody calls this my blankie, but it’s not.  I love this. But, it’s a Peace Quilt, not a blankie.

Long pause.  Then Gloria continued.

It makes me feel good.  I love snuggling with my Peace Quilt.  Look at all the pictures.  See, there’s a puppy, and lambs.  Look at the pink.  I like pink.  And the best part is the back with all the stars.  When I go to sleep at night, I have my stars right with me.  This is my Peace Quilt.

Wow!  You could have heard a pin drop.  Gloria asked, “What do you like on my Peace Quilt?”  Fifteen children descended on her, each one wanting to look.  After all, they were now really looking at the quilt as if they had never seen it before.  It was amazing what they saw.  And yes, the stars were the most popular.  Gloria then turned to Milly and said “Hi.”  They stared at each other.  Just stared.  Then Gloria spontaneously gave Milly a snuggle in her neck.  Milly grinned from ear to ear.  “What do you think, Milly?  What do you like?”  They had a long and lively discussion.  Children watched.  Gloria said, “We could make our own Peace Quilt!  What do you think?”  “Yes we can, Gloria.” said Milly.

Over the next week we pooled together all of our ideas.  Children had terrific ideas of Peace!  They understood.  Gloria had helped them to do that.

Little baby peeping chicks
Stars (many votes)
My heart
Ocean of blue and green
The color yellow
Autumn Tree
White Triangles
Big Star
Truck that goes vroom

We rolled up our sleeves, rolled out the big paper to sketch our ideas, opened our hearts, and got to work!  A classroom parent and artist came in put all the ideas of Peace onto paper.  Not an easy task when the children are in charge.

Little did I know how the sketch would look, much less the quilt.  And then, what would happen with the quilt?  How would Milly do this with the children?  More importantly, would she connect with children?  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 art, Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Gloria, Imagination, Inspiration, The Arts, Writing, young children and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Milly – Part 2

  1. Aw look at those little faces! Lovely to read this Jennie.

  2. Shalini says:

    It’s so heart warming

  3. This was wonderful! I was hanging onto every word with a big grin plastered on my face.

  4. beth says:

    So amazing on so many levels

  5. Darlene says:

    How old would those little darlings be now? Love this story.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    This is such an uplifting story, Jennie.

  7. quiall says:

    Teaching children such abstract and vital issues such as peace will shape our future. Those children are our future.

  8. Now this is the epitome of Sunday Smiles!☺️

  9. willedare says:

    Wow. Another inspiring installment! Thank you! I especially like the list of potential peaceful images for the quilt, including “White Triangles (and) Truck that goes vroom…”

  10. Don Ostertag says:

    What a wonderful project! And such a fine telling of it, Jeannie.

  11. This is exciting. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Wow! They are very interested in learning how to make this real. Wonderful, and with Gloria on stage always a special happening. Thank you for sharing, Jennie! I hope you had a beautiful weekend, and will enjoy the upcoming week. xx Michael

  13. Pingback: Milly – Part 2 – by Jennie Fitzkee – Collecting ideas for a quilt – DEEZ – News about Art, Books & more

  14. Jermena says:

    Wow… Can’t wait🤗

  15. petespringerauthor says:

    I’ve got a big smile on my face just looking at those engaged faces. The Haitian quilts are beautiful. One of my coworkers, a teacher I have the utmost respect for, used to do a class quilt with her sixth graders each year. They each contributed a square and Linda pieced it all together.

    Nice to meet Milly. I’m glad she took the challenge. Looking forward to the next installment. I’m going off the grid for a few days starting Thursday, but I’ll be on the lookout.

    • Jennie says:

      Milly had always made either quilts with a pattern, or quilts with squares. A mural was completely new to her. I remember the teachers at school not ‘getting it’, not understanding how children could contribute to this. Sixth graders can make a quilt with squares, but not preschoolers. Cheers to Linda, and to Milly, each taking a different path.

      Thank you for reading and following this story, Pete. Next part Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m way behind on reading bloggers blogs, as our daughter and the grandchildren are here visiting from Oregon. It’s been two years! I’ll catch up soon. Enjoy you blog break!

      • petespringerauthor says:

        Have a wonderful time with them. I’m sure you’re enjoying your grandkids. A couple of years in our lives is small potatoes, but two years for developing children is enormous.

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, it is enormous. We are enjoying every minute together!

      • Carla says:

        This is such a wonderful story, Jennie. I love those Haitian quotes, they are beautiful. Milly was brave to take on such a challenge and you were brave to ask her. I can’t wait to see what your artist parent come up with. I agree, when young children are in charge, it is hard to predict what will come next. Enjoy your time with your family, Jennie.

        You must be loving getting together after such a long time of not being able to see one another.

      • Jennie says:

        I was completely struck when I saw the Haitian quilts and was so glad that it was a springboard for a quilt. Cheers to Milly for being brave, and to the children for being creative. Thank you, Carla!

  16. CarolCooks2 says:

    What a wonderful story, Jennie I am smiling from ear to ear I needed this…xx

  17. Ritu says:

    Milly’s story always touches me 💜

  18. Marina Costa says:

    The girl in white by your side, Jennie, in the photo with Millie and Gloria- how expressively distrustful is her side look!

  19. dgkaye says:

    Another amazing project. Love the Peace quilt concept. Great to see Gloria part of it. ❤

  20. It got off to a great start! I’m looking forward to Part 3!

  21. A lovely post, Jennie. I remember reading about Millie and her quilting.

  22. Norah says:

    Love this story, Jennie. It glows brighter with each telling.

  23. srbottch says:

    The Haitian quilts are beautiful, Jennie. I thought it was very interesting how Millie so willingly stepped out of her ‘comfort zone’ to accept a new challenge. Of course, your enthusiasm was a catalyst. Nice work!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, it was quite interesting that Milly stepped out of her comfort zone. There is much more ahead, and my director has reminded me how this changed Milly’s life. Thank you, Steve.

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