Photo credit: Detroit Lakes Online

Story originally published on Detroit Lakes Online.

First graders at Roosevelt Elementary in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, learned something special this year: the art of quilting.

It all started eight years ago when Becky Mallow, a teaching assistant at the school, was trying to cut down on noise in the lunchroom. She had the idea to hang quilts around the room to absorb the noise.

Mallow, who is an avid quilter, makes a quilt with the first grade class every year. She brings her sewing machine to school and lets the children make the quilts themselves. Each child chooses their own colors and sews their own blocks, with Mallow's assistance on the sewing machine.

Every year, the quilt has a different theme. This year, the class was learning shapes, so the quilt was math themed and was titled Rectangles, Squares and Circles All Around.

The children worked on their blocks throughout the year, including during their inside recess time when it was too cold to play outside in the winter. When the blocks were done, Mallow sent the quilt off to be finished before it would be hung with the others.

During the past eight years of sewing with students, Mallow discovered that the special education classes responded especially well to quilt-making. She said the kids are able to tune out the commotion of the classroom and just focus on making their blocks. She said the sound of the sewing machine calms them.

Grace, a first grader who picked purple fabric for her block, said choosing the color was her favorite part. Wilfred, another first grader, said, "My favorite part was that it was my first time sewing!"

Photo credit: Detroit Lakes Online