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Detroit Lakes first graders create a quilt

Luke Karlgaard's first grade class learned more than the state-mandated curriculum of telling time and spelling words this year thanks to Becky Mallow, a teaching assistant at Roosevelt Elementary. They also learned the art of quilt making.

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Rossman Elementary School first graders admire quilt creations above the school’s lunch room. DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Brian Basham
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Luke Karlgaard’s first grade class learned more than the state-mandated curriculum of telling time and spelling words this year thanks to Becky Mallow, a teaching assistant at Roosevelt Elementary. They also learned the art of quilt making. Mallow had an idea eight years ago to hang quilts in the lunchroom to cut down on the noise. They used to hang flags, but they weren’t working enough and safety was a concern. “When I take them down (for the summer) it echoes like crazy,” Mallow said. She has been making quilts with classrooms ever since, and the project has been receiving positive feedback. “Becky, can we make another one?” one student asked as they hung this year’s quilt. Mallow has her own sewing room at home and estimates her quilt count at around 50 to 60. “I usually donate one every year,” Mallow said. Mallow brought her own sewing machine to school and let the kids do most of the work, picking their own colors and sewing their own blocks. The quilt was at a beginner’s level, so all of the seams were straight. “I teach it like driving a car,” Mallow said. “I tell them the harder you press the pedal, the faster the needle goes.” The first graders spent time sewing the quilt during inside recess when it was too cold to go outside.
It then took about a month to get the quilt back from Service Cleaners, which is the business Mallow sent it to for finishing. Grace, a first grader at Roosevelt, said picking a color was her favorite part, although she didn’t pick her favorite color, teal. She picked purple for the quilt. The quilts have a theme every year. Mallow said she likes to change the themes with seasons, but she has also matched up the theme with classroom curriculum. One year she helped a classroom make a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” quilt. Another year it was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” to go along with the books they were learning how to read. This year the quilt was math themed, since the first graders learned shapes. The math theme matched up well with the project. “You sew quilts at a quarter inch,” Mallow said, so they learned sizing as well. The quilts always get a name, too. This year the quilt was dubbed “Rectangles, Squares and Circles All Around.” Mallow also makes quilts with the special education classes, which is one of the perks of her job, she said. The kids are able to tune everything else out and the sound of the sewing machine seems to have a calming effect. Mallow’s quilt making has made quite the impression on her students. “It was fun!” Lydia, one first grader, said. “My favorite part was that it was my first time sewing!” Wilfred, another first grader, said.Luke Karlgaard’s first grade class learned more than the state-mandated curriculum of telling time and spelling words this year thanks to Becky Mallow, a teaching assistant at Roosevelt Elementary. They also learned the art of quilt making.Mallow had an idea eight years ago to hang quilts in the lunchroom to cut down on the noise. They used to hang flags, but they weren’t working enough and safety was a concern.“When I take them down (for the summer) it echoes like crazy,” Mallow said.She has been making quilts with classrooms ever since, and the project has been receiving positive feedback.“Becky, can we make another one?” one student asked as they hung this year’s quilt.Mallow has her own sewing room at home and estimates her quilt count at around 50 to 60.“I usually donate one every year,” Mallow said.Mallow brought her own sewing machine to school and let the kids do most of the work, picking their own colors and sewing their own blocks.The quilt was at a beginner’s level, so all of the seams were straight.“I teach it like driving a car,” Mallow said. “I tell them the harder you press the pedal, the faster the needle goes.”The first graders spent time sewing the quilt during inside recess when it was too cold to go outside.
It then took about a month to get the quilt back from Service Cleaners, which is the business Mallow sent it to for finishing.Grace, a first grader at Roosevelt, said picking a color was her favorite part, although she didn’t pick her favorite color, teal. She picked purple for the quilt.The quilts have a theme every year. Mallow said she likes to change the themes with seasons, but she has also matched up the theme with classroom curriculum.One year she helped a classroom make a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” quilt. Another year it was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” to go along with the books they were learning how to read.This year the quilt was math themed, since the first graders learned shapes. The math theme matched up well with the project.“You sew quilts at a quarter inch,” Mallow said, so they learned sizing as well.The quilts always get a name, too. This year the quilt was dubbed “Rectangles, Squares and Circles All Around.”Mallow also makes quilts with the special education classes, which is one of the perks of her job, she said. The kids are able to tune everything else out and the sound of the sewing machine seems to have a calming effect.Mallow’s quilt making has made quite the impression on her students.“It was fun!” Lydia, one first grader, said.“My favorite part was that it was my first time sewing!” Wilfred, another first grader, said.

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Luke Karlgaard’s first grade class displays quilt made with help from Becky Mallow. DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Brian Basham

Related Topics: DETROIT LAKES
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