MacArthur Elementary Peaceful Playgrounds- playground games

MacArthur School in Hoffman Estates is the third school in District 54 to implement the Peaceful Playground program, which provides colorful blacktop games that promote active, healthy play. (Kate Thayer/Tribune)

By Kate Thayer TribLocal reporter

Recess isn’t just about swinging and sliding for some students in District 54. Instead, they’re playing problem-solving playground games with the aid of colorful drawings on the blacktop.

This year, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Hoffman Estates became the third school in the district to begin the Peaceful Playground program. In the program, the school paints designs for several different games on the blacktop. Balls, bean bags and other items go along with the games, which often promote physical exercise without the safety hazards of dodgeball or tag, said Principal Danette Meyer.

Plus, many of the games promote healthy conflict resolution techniques, Meyer said.

“It’s peaceful because the goal is to solve problems peacefully,” she said.

The school’s Parent Teacher Association purchased the Peaceful Playground kit for about $3,000, which includes all materials and ongoing training for staff, Meyer said. Lakeview Elementary in Hoffman Estates and Adlai Stevenson Elementary School in Elk Grove Village have already been using Peaceful Playground.

For the first couple weeks of school, MacArthur students learn how to play each of the games. After that, they’ll be able to choose between the school’s traditional playground equipment and the new Peaceful Playground activities, Meyer said.

So far, the new games are a hit, she said.

One game is made up of several different colored and sized circles. Students have to jump to one circle or another during a game of Simon Says. Another game uses a large square, which has corresponding letters and numbers. Students are tagged when they have to go from one number to another, across the square. In other games, students have to add up points, or spell.

As first-graders left the playground late Tuesday morning, they gave Meyer a thumbs-up sign, yelling, “awesome!”

Mikel Eppenbaugh, PTA president, said she visited every classroom last year, asking kids what they wanted to see more of at MacArthur School.

Overwhelmingly, they asked for more activities, she said, adding that the Peaceful Playground kit also follows the district’s Healthy Kids initiative, and reinforces positive behavior programs.

And, “it’s super cute,” she said.

Before the Peaceful Playground activities, students would just wander around on the school’s blacktop, Eppenbaugh said. If most of the school’s playground equipment was in use, the only other options were basketball and jump ropes.

“I believe that’s when behavior issues can start to happen,” she said.

Hoffman Estates Tribute