Kane County Chronicle

September 2004

The action was fast-paced as fifth-graders at Wild Rose Elementary School learned the rules of new playground games. Bean bag four square involves tossing and catching a bean bag with a scoop.

“It’s fun because it’s very athletic,” student Cameron Staroske said. The rules to the playground games are simple: You miss, you’re out.

“It’s challenging, it’s hard,” fifth-grader Eric Faulk said.

The challenge, athleticism and fast pace are components of the Peaceful Playgrounds program, which encompasses several games designed to keep children active during recess periods.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is increase physical activities,” said Becky Slettum, Wild Rose physical education teacher.

Research has shown that increasing physical activities will reduce playground injuries, lead to better conditioning and cut down on bullying and playground conflict, Wild Rose Principal Larry Hyde said.

Hyde said the school implemented Peaceful Playgrounds as part of an improvement program. Wild Rose is the first school in the district to use the program.

An area that needed improvement, Hyde said, was filling the 15-minute recess periods with constructive activities.

“A lot of students didn’t know what to do out here,” Hyde said.

The new games are meant to provide activities for all students throughout recess. “All of the games happen very quickly, so you’re not standing around in line,” Slettum said. At the bean bag hopscotch court, fifth-grade girls were going through their paces.

“Before, we had nothing to do at recess,” Caroline Klehr said. “Girls are mostly better,” Megan Allegretti added.

Peaceful Playgrounds’ strategy is to have activities carefully marked on the playground. In addition to four square and hopscotch, there is a basketball game, a team four square game, and a bean-bag game stenciled onto the playground.

The Wild Rose PTO donated $1,000 and labor to mark out the games, Hyde said.

“We have a wonderful parents group,” he said.

A “track” circles the playground and is marked with numbers and letters at given intervals. Classroom teachers can use the track, as well as the other games, in their regular studies, Slettum said.

Disputes — such as whether the bean bag falls on the line or not — are settled by the time-honored method of rock-paper-scissors. Bullying and name-calling are reduced because the students are too active to cause problems, Hyde said.

By Tom Schlueter
Kane County Chronicle – St. Charles IL
September 2004