From South Mountain School in South Orange, NJ:
On Wednesday, February 6, 2019, South Mountain School hosted its first ever schoolwide Global Play Day. Judging from the smiling faces of both staff and students, it is fair to say the day was a huge success. Although Global Play Day is an international event that took place on February 6, the idea for the day was born months earlier in November.
Ms. Masters and Ms. Marra’s third grade class was learning about persuasive writing. The teachers wanted their students to understand that writing has purpose and can actually create change. In order to teach the class this important lesson, the students were asked to come up with a class speech. Through many peer to peer and group conversations, the class came up with a thesis statement: South Mountain School should have a half day play day. They came up with several reasons to support their thesis statement, such as, there are 180 days of school, this is just one half day, school can be stressful and challenging and it’s important for kids to have a break.
After adding lots of examples and evidence to their speech, the class crossed their fingers and presented the speech to South Mountain School’s principal Alyna Jacobs. Ms. Jacobs, who understands the benefits of play on growing minds, loved the idea. She shared that there was an upcoming day called Global Play Day, where schools around the world took the whole day to play. The idea for a full-day Play Day was born.
The third graders created a list of room ideas, and asked for input from the rest of the students as well as the teachers. Students selected the rooms they wanted to visit, and Ms. Masters and Ms. Marra created a schedule which allowed each student to visit 3 super fun and engaging rooms in the morning. There were a wide variety of rooms for students to pick from — crafts, Escape the Room, comic book making, fort building, coding, PE games, a 4-mile reservation walk to the waterfalls, Legos and more! The rest of the day was spent playing in classrooms or outside.
Play Day was a hit. And it all started with a life lesson about writing in a third grade classroom.