Playground lessons

Recently, I've started taking my kindergarten classes outside for a 10-15 minute burst of energy and fresh air. I see them for 45 minutes in a stretch, and I'd often thought- how can I help them move more? So, thought I'd capitalize and try a small "recess" break of my own!

Today, their teacher was happy for me to take them out. She affirmed they had been working hard all morning- and a break would be great! So- off we went. I told the students that when they heard my whistle, to freeze and look at me.

30 seconds in: whistle. They all stopped and looked. I praised them and sent them back to work (I mean play).

But play is work. You see, in the 10 minutes while we were on the playground I witnessed:

Negotiation: students discussing what to play, and agreeing to taking turns playing what the other wanted.

Encouragement: as a student was trying a new skill- at least 3 others were encouraging and giving tips.

Validation: "Mrs. Ramsey, watch me!" to endless jumps- "ta das", flips, monkey bars- each child wanting to show a skill, and feel that they mattered.

Connections: kids that inside the confines of the "academic" area of library don't relate to one another- yet, on the playground, all the barriers are gone.

Sure, I've read the articles. Sure, I have the common sense that play matters. But, when you take the knowledge your head and heart knows and apply them- something wonderful happens. You realize they have a lot more of the "soft skills" than you thought. You see your students as kids, as people. You find ways to connect to them in a new way~ not just over a lesson.


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