We generally think of recess as fun time for children. But it is not always so for those who find socialising difficult or for those who have trouble thinking of something to do.
Incorporating social and friendship skills into the daily class program has enormous benefits in preventing unhappy times in the playground.
Happy and peaceful playgrounds can be cultivated by:
- providing children with strategies for friendly play, including how to join in, participate, and allow others to join in;
- teaching children activities and games to play alone or with others;
- offering equipment to support those activities and games.
Peaceful playgrounds filled with happy active children contribute to a healthier, happier community more able to focus on learning during class time.
Being active contributes to children’s overall physical development, including gross and fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, and fitness.
Opportunities for introducing activities and games can be seized in many areas of the curriculum. In addition to the obvious; physical education, they can be slotted into the social skills or friendship skills program, or used as transition activities during the day.
Sometimes they can be worked in with maths or English lessons. If equipment is easily accessible in the classroom, it need take no longer than a few minutes to introduce an activity, a diversion which can aid concentration for the next learning session
The provision of permanent outdoor items such as pole tennis, basketball hoops, soccer nets, targets painted on walls and play patterns for hopscotch and other games on concreted areas contributes other opportunities for play. With a stick of jumbo chalk, children can draw their own hopscotch and play patterns.
This week I have uploaded a new resource Games for playtime.
Games for playtime includes:
- ten activities and games for individual or group play, including Instruction cards for playing Sevens and French Cricket;
- a checklist of suggested equipment;
- a system to encourage responsible borrowing, including Sports equipment borrowing cards.
Activities and games for individual or group play
Included in the resource are suggestions for:
- Ball games
- Flying discs
- Grip ball
- Bats and balls
- Ten pins
- Bean bags
The activities require a small amount of equipment which can be easily stored in a basket in the classroom.
A system for borrowing
Concerns about children not taking responsibility for care of equipment, at a glance, may seem valid, as damage and losses can occur. However, by teaching children games and activities that can be played using the equipment, showing them how to use it safely, and cultivating a sense of responsibility for the equipment and others, the incidence of damage and loss decreases.
The system I explain in the resource is one I implemented in my classrooms, and includes printable borrowing cards I made for the children.
- Children borrow one item or set (if they wish).
- They look after the item, play with it safely, and return it when lunch is finished.
- When they go out to play, they choose an item, and place their borrowing card in a pocket to indicate what has been borrowed.
- When they return from lunch, they return the item to the basket and remove their borrowing card from the pocket.
It is easy to check the items being borrowed and returned, and a quick glance at the pockets tells which items are missig.
I found children to be honest using the system and responsible in using and caring for the equipment. While an occasional mishap occurred, for example; a ball on the roof, damage and losses were minimal. The children were happy to have something to play with and to know a game to play with their friends, or to help them make new friends.
The system helped create a happier more peaceful playground, and children were more able to focus and happier to work when they returned to the classroom. Time spent teaching the games was a worthwhile investment.
The resource Games for playtime is available to subscribers. Subscription provides access to all resources.
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