By Nicole Wagner
Mount Prospect Times –
Park Ridge, IL
November 3, 2005

Elementary school playground games

Students learn new elementary school playground games with new Peaceful Playgrounds Program.

A divided white rectangle marks the most popular piece of asphalt on the Indian Grove Elementary School playground.

Children say they love bounceball, foursquare, hopscotch and other games they are playing at the Mount Prospect school. They have an ambitious group of parents from the school’s Organization of Parents and Teachers to thank for the new additions to their playground.

Parents raised $1,600 to buy paint and stencils from a company called Peaceful Playgrounds. The money also bought a supply of balls, jump-ropes and beanbags to use with the games. Volunteers painted the playground blacktop in time for the school year.

Fifth-graders Thea Fisk and Philip Tubergen explained bounceball’s popularity while they waited for another pair to join them for foursquare.

Bounceball games keep children on the lookout for rubber balls careening toward them. The object of the game is to bounce or roll a ball into the opposing team’s territory and out of bounds.

“It gets all into competition,” Thea said. “Sometimes we play boys against girls.”

Students said they like the variety of games, and that the games get more children moving during recess.

“There’s a lot more going on now, and there aren’t as many people sitting on the ground,” said Cadie Rihani, who walked over to join the foursquare game.

Playground monitors and Principal Lynn Fisher said they’ve seen more students playing since the playground’s renovation. Intense physical games, swings and slides aren’t for every child, Fisher said.

Mother Cindy Niersbach said that same observation was the inspiration for the OPT’s playground project.

“When I visited the school, I saw kids I like to call perimeter walkers,” she said. “They stroll around the playground.”

Students aren’t allowed to play on Indian Grove’s playground equipment and fields when they are wet, so the painted pavement games give them another option on damp days. Children used to draw outlines for foursquare and other games with chalk.

Older students were familiar with some of the pavement games, and physical education teachers are teaching them more games every few weeks. Peaceful Playgrounds gave the school a packet filled with game instructions.

Adults are watching the blacktop to monitor what games students like. This spring, the OPT plans to paint the remaining blank part of the elementary school playground with more outlines for games that are popular or crowded. The OPT will also replace balls and other equipment when they are needed, Niersbach said.

“It took a lot of work to get this down, and we’re thrilled the children love it,” she said.

Fisher praised the parents that took the initiative on the project.

“Our parents here are phenomenal,” she said. “They spend so much time doing things for this school. It’s unbelievable.”

Each year, parents raise roughly $8,000 for the school. The OPT tries to make investments that will affect a majority of children, Niersbach said.