Friday, February 3, 2012

youland

Add to my all-time favorite books Mattland, by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert (published in Canada).  I have long been a fan of Roxaboxen and its depiction of a kind of collaborative, creative, imaginative play that today's children sometimes need to be taught.  Mattland is the same kind of story, but a little more accessible and step-by-step than Roxaboxen, and with a dramatic crisis that the true story of Roxaboxen lacks.  (I have my little complaints about the design of Mattland and how the illustrations sometimes don't match the words in shape or placement, but these are surmounted by the powerfully satisfying overall effect.)

We read both these books as a way of coming to an understanding of the "physical features: landforms and bodies of water" that are in the Kindergarten curriculum.  We worked up to building modeling clay landscapes on lunch trays, with little toothpick flags to indicate mountains, lakes, deserts, rivers, grasslands, oceans and islands.  We called the project "Youland," since most children, like Matt in the book, named their place after themselves, and they were very proud of their lands indeed.  It took me way too long to realize what song we needed to learn:  Woody Guthrie's folk classic below.  Did you know all the verses?

This Land Is Your Land

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

by Woody Guthrie

And now, enjoy this Youtube version which links Woody's cultural/political message with our National Parks system...


Sing your way to the Poetry Friday Round-up at The Iris Chronicles with Karissa.

13 comments:

  1. I love reading about the projects you do with your lucky students, Heidi! Thanks for the introduction to this book. I wonder how it would pair with Paul Fleischman's WESLANDIA? Different themes, but a child's imaginitive interaction with his/her environment and the effects on social relationships seem to be common elements.

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  2. Oh, I'd never heard of Mattland! Thanks for featuring it and giving us a nice Guthrie fix. :)

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  3. the guthrie reminds me of two things. first, how we only know the first verse and chorus to national songs like "american the beautiful" and "home on the range" and second, i learned a guthrie song in 5th grade that haunted my memory for year until i tracked it down.

    it was called "talking blues" which had a wholelot more verses than the single one i'd learned. it was such a rabbit hole of a revelation that i went exploring all the other guthrie songs i knew (or thought i did) and discovered all sorts of gems. like "roll on, columbia"

    anyway, great share and great lessons.

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  4. I love the independence in the later stanzas of this poem -- which we don't often hear sung. Thanks, Heidi.

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  5. Perfect, I just had James, James, Morrison, Morrison stuck in my head but this will supplant it nicely.

    Mattland looks really interesting. I'll put it on my library list.

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  6. Rosaboxen is one of my all time favorite picture books. Guthrie's song was a protest song - those last verses are so important to it's original intest. It's always puzzled me as to why those verses are somehow forgotten these days.

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  7. Thank you for telling about this book. I just discovered Roxaboxen recently from a colleague who teaches younger students, so will pass this on to her. Mattland looks great, & accompanying the project with the song is also a terrific pairing.

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  8. Yes, I thought of WESLANDIA too! Must get this title for my nephew Matt. And Youland is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Woody Guthrie! How absolutely inspired! Guthrie and Bob Dylan shall always be rockstars in my fangirling heart. It's also my first time to hear of Mattland, will give it a looksie. :)

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  10. You're the best! Two perfect books and a great song to anchor the concepts of place, mapping, and landforms. Oh, to be 5 again and in your class!

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  11. Thanks for your comments, everyone. I've now added one of the Youtube videos that I showed my class to give them a look at the wonder of this land.

    Robyn and Irene, I did think of Weslandia, which I'm only vaguely familiar with, but my memory was that it's quite a bit more sophisticated, so I held to my New Year commitment to "Taking Our Time" and stuck with the just the two books.

    David, Laura and Tara, when I shared the song in print with the kids I left out the last verses (although we read them and studied the illustrations in the Kathy Jakobsen book). I also had little idea that the song was not just a celebration but a call to mindful action, and next year I'll make a more explicit connection between these verses and the story of MLK and the civil rights revolution.

    Mary Lee, your quite simple comment whacked me upside the head with the obvious last step in the project, which I neglected to do in my relative haste to get the hard-to-store Youlands out of my room. Next time, after they're made, each Youlander must make a map of his or her land on paper.

    I love being a teacher, because there's always another chance to do it better. : )

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  12. Dear Heidi! Brilliant! Thank you for a fabulous tie-in to two of my favorite books!

    Please note that This Land is My Land has two verses missing in your post--(the one about the sign and the one about the steeple, below).

    As my friend, Los Angeles singer/songfighter Ross Altman writes, 'There is a built-in problem with deciding on an official version of Woody's lyrics; famously, he "never sang a song the same way once." ...there are a number of slight variations in the text depending on whose source you use.'

    Here is one, with the two missing verses restored:

    THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND
    words and music by Woody Guthrie

    Chorus:
    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From California, to the New York Island
    From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
    This land was made for you and me

    As I went walking that ribbon of highway
    I saw above me that endless skyway
    I saw below me that golden valley
    This land was made for you and me

    Chorus

    I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
    To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
    And all around me a voice was sounding
    This land was made for you and me

    Chorus

    The sun came shining as I went strolling
    With the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
    As the fog was lifting a voice come chanting
    This land was made for you and me

    Chorus

    As I went walkin' my freedom highway -
    I saw a sign say 'no trespassing'
    But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
    That side was made for you and me!

    Chorus

    In the middle of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
    By the relief office - I saw my people
    They stood there hungry--I stood there thinking
    This land was made for you and me.
    This land's still made for you and me.

    Chorus (2x)

    ©1956 (renewed 1984), 1958 (renewed 1986) and 1970 TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc.
    (BMI)

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  13. Thank you! My writing is set in the era of Woody Guthrie, and the full text of his song is a much different animal from the sickly-sweet rendition it always used to be given at Miss America pageants....

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