August 2004

Goffstown News

goffstown recess

Painting the playground games like 4 square and hopscotch.

Recess at Center Woods Elementary School will be a lot more interesting and fun this year. As part of the Peaceful Playgrounds program, volunteers have been painting  playground games such as hopscotch, pickle, around the world, four square, and number and letter grids.

“I’m excited,” said Assistant Principal Laura Stoneking. “I hope we can get it done in time (for the new school year).” The program is a lot of work, but the students will benefit the most, and it’s worth the money, the time and the effort, Stoneking said. And everyone is involved with the project � students, the administration, parents and the the PTO.

Peaceful Playgrounds was developed by Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer of California in her doctoral thesis about how to create less conflict on playgrounds, said Center Woods Elementary School Principal Jude Chauvette. One of Bossenmeyer’s methods is to have the school administration regulate playground games so the students can’t argue about the rules, said Chauvette. The rules would be kept in a book that the teachers on recess duty could carry and clarify the rules for the students.

Bossenmeyer’s thesis also suggests three methods for students to deal with conflict � walk away, talk about it, and if students cannot do either of those, they can play rock, paper, scissors to see who is right, said Chauvette.

Another idea addressed by Bossenmeyer is a version of kickball, where teams are not picked, students are not left out, and everyone gets a turn at play. After the kicker kicks, he or she becomes the pitcher and the person who caught the ball becomes the kicker.

Chauvette said he hopes the designs painted on the blacktop will remind the students what to do as well as spread them out throughout the playground as there are usually 150 students on the playground at the same time.

Painting Playground Games

With painting the school playground with letter and number grids, teachers can bring students out to the playground for more interactive class time as well, said Stoneking.

During the first couple of weeks of school, students will have a structured recess. All the teachers on duty will rotate games and explain them, Chauvette said. Easter said it’s good there is more adult supervision and interaction.

A lot of children today don’t know how to play games such as hopscotch and four square, said Chauvette. “There definitely is a lack of kids learning those essential games,” said Stoneking, agreeing with Chauvette.

Another benefit of the program is students can learn the games and play them at home, said Stoneking. Chauvette said he recommended the Peaceful Playground because he had ordered the program when he was assistant principal at Chester Academy, but he left before it could get started.

There have not been many conflicts on the playground at Center Woods, but issues do arise when students have unstructured time such as lunch or recess, said Stoneking. “I think it’s wonderful,” Easter said. “I think a lot of problems in elementary school start or get worse on the playground. I think if they have a way to channel their energy, I think it’s great.”

The school purchased the program from Bossenmeyer that includes the training materials, the layouts, the directions and the blueprints, said Stoneking. Administrators began working on the Peaceful Playground program in January. They first had to apply for a grant to purchase the program, and then went over the blueprints to see what could be done at Center Woods.

The Weare Friends PTO donated $500 for paint supplies and additional money for playground equipment after receiving a request from the administration, said co-chairman Cheri Easter. Carts, balls and jump ropes have been ordered and students will have to sign out the equipment, which will make them responsible for returning and caring for the items, said Chauvette. Easter said more supplies will be beneficial because Center Woods does not have a lot of equipment for a large group of students.

“The great thing about it, too, is that our parents (and) volunteers can take ownership in putting this together,” said Stoneking. The volunteers have been trying to work on Mondays from 4 to 8 p.m. and hope to finish in time for the new school year, said Chauvette. Easter has not been able to attend many Monday night painting sessions, but wants to get her family involved. “I think the more people involved, the better,” she said.

Anyone who wishes to help with the Center Wood Peaceful Playground Project can call the school at 529-4500 or check Channel 17.

By Jodi Wolfe
Neighborhood News – Weare, NH