Denver students find peace on playground

By on October 5, 2016
Jada Soto bounces the ball to her classmate as a group of second graders play four square on a court recently added as part of a Peaceful Playground initiative. Photo by Kimberly Marselas

Jada Soto bounces the ball to her classmate as a group of second graders play four square on a court recently added as part of a Peaceful Playground initiative. Photo by Kimberly Marselas

First graders Jaylie Sheaffer and Hailey Brown bounded up and down agility ladders Monday afternoon, enjoying one of the new perks of their school’s Peaceful Playground.

The ladders are one of more than a dozen playing courts, letter- and number-charts and brain games that adorn the macadam behind Denver Elementary School this year.

Principal Angela Marley and a team of volunteers painted the designs from a blueprint in late August, just before school resumed for the year. Teachers have been introducing the concepts and skills during the last month — both at recess and as an instructional tool.

Students in Roseanne Milligan’s second grade class have used the agility ladders — a patterned series of Ls and Rs that show children where to put their left and right feet.

“I like to use them for a brain break,” Milligan explains. “Studies show that students need more physical activity. I try to exercise with my class for a few minutes each morning and afternoon.”

Peaceful Playground components are in place at more than 8,000 schools nationwide, and administrators can choose from a few stencils or an entire line of products and staff training. There are more than 100 games and markings available.

The company says its products enhance learning, prevent bullying and promote positive social interactions.

“When children are actively involved in games, you have fewer problems,” Melinda Bussenmeyer, president and founder of Peaceful Playgrounds, says in a promotional video.

First grader Lily Arment weaves her way along an alphabet-filled caterpillar.

First grader Lily Arment weaves her way along an alphabet-filled caterpillar.

On Monday, first and second graders at Denver played four square, jumped around letter charts to “spell” their names and traced the alphabet on circles painted to look like a friendly caterpillar.

There are also new ‘round-the-world squares at the basketball hoops, multi-colored hopscotch boards, a multiplication chart and a map where students can practice the names of states and capitals. A bean bag toss — bags and balls were included in the playground setup — encourages students practice early math literacy through scoring.

Some elements are tied to specific physical skills such as balance, cross-body coordination and hopping. Those skills are tied to reading readiness, and Denver also has an indoor program to promote action-based learning among its primary students.

“The new activities offered for recess will help the children find something fun to do,” Milligan says. “The educational games are a wonderful way for students to engage in their learning.”

The school paid $5,717 for the entire set up, including equipment and paint.

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