Sparkling with rich autumn watercolors and magical detail, this book introduces little Clee and her blanket, a true and trusted friend. But when her father’s shivering pumpkin patch needs help to survive the frost, Clee understands that it needs her blanket more than she does.
“A beautiful and soulful story….Thoughtful recognition of a milestone in a child’s growth.” School Library Journal
TeacherView by Libby Trumbull
Grade(s) taught: K
Thousand Oaks Elementary
Upon birth, Clee receives a beautiful, patchwork blanket. Clee’s blanket is safe and warm and comforting. Clee dances with her blanket, sleeps with her blanket, and pretends with her blanket. As her kindergarten year nears, Clee’s Father wonders how to separate Clee from her blanket so that she can move onto kindergarten independently.
As Clee’s Father cares for the pumpkins in their garden he points out that the pumpkins will freeze if not kept warm. They discuss the wonderful faces these pumpkins will wear when harvested. Clee decides to cover one unsheltered pumpkin with one square cut from her precious blanket. As frost continues to threaten the pumpkins, Clee gives up her blanket squares to care for them.
A gust of wind takes the squares into the sky where they shelter the full moon. Clee and her Father harvest the pumpkins and the story ends with 12 carved jack-o-lanterns sitting on the porch steps.
After reading The Pumpkin Blanket, ask students to share their ideas of how Clee felt when she held her blanket. It’s a good idea to write all of these responses on the whiteboard/chalkboard. Share with students something from your childhood that helped you feel warm/safe/loved. This could be a story or even an old teddy bear you still have. Ask students if any of them have things at home that give them some of the feelings you’ve written on the board. Again, write down all responses.
Give each child a square piece of paper (around 8×8 or so). Have students use crayons to draw a picture of something that makes them feel the way that Clee felt when holding her blanket. Ask them to make it big so that it takes up a lot of the paper space. Encourage them to color in their picture as much as possible (this is for practice and for hand muscle development). When drawings are complete, take dictation (it can be right on the square or separately) that speaks to the object and the feelings it provokes.
Pictures/dictation can be displayed as a patchwork blanket on the wall. This is an especially good project at the beginning of the year when children are experiencing the anxiety that comes along with starting school and leaving security blankets at home.
This story also lends itself to conversations regarding students’ own birth days. Invite children to bring in photos of themselves as babies (and bring in one of your own, of course). Make a guessing display for students to wonder at, or simply let each child discuss her/his picture and share it with the class.