Our first Global School Play Day in fifth and sixth grade, held on February 3, was a great success! Global School Play Day is a national event in which schools step away from the curriculum and let kids play, make their own decisions, decide what to do and how to do it. There is no technology involved and teachers do not lead the activities. So often in our culture, technology leads the way for us, and kids have forgotten how to play. This day was designed to let kids just be kids and play, without adults giving direction or technology getting in the way.
We started by explaining the purpose of the event and we asked the students to think about these two questions throughout the day: What was the best part of the day? What was the hardest part of the day? Students were divided into four groups; each group included both 5th and 6th graders. Students went to four different classrooms, each equipped with different materials for play. Rooms were stocked with building materials, materials for science experiments, board and card games, and materials for creating and fort making. Students also had an open gym during their P.E. period as well as an extended outdoor recess. Teachers sat aside to watch and observe, and let the kids be kids.
The most challenging part of the day was when kids had to make choices and often just wanted an adult to make a decision for them. As the adults, we truly stepped aside and had them make their own decisions on how to solve the problem when they encountered one.
At the end of the day, we talked to each group and reflected on the questions:
What was the best part of the day? What was the hardest part of the day?
Here are a few comments from the students:
- “Global School Play Day showed us that we are lucky to have advanced technology, but we should step away and take a break.” –Cam, Grade 6
- “I thought it was very fun! I also thought that even though we didn’t learn, I learned how to play without relying on electronics.” –Poppy, Grade 5
- “I think it was a good break from school and electronics. The only bad thing was stopping!!!” –Glenn, Grade 5
- “I thought this was a good experience to know how it felt to play without electronics. It was very different to not use electronics because we always use one.” —Sebby, Grade 6
- “I think Global School Play day was creative and fun. My friends and I could be together instead of using iPads. Overall it is a good way of making friends.” –Bryce, Grade 5
- “I think it was really fun because we got to be creative with our own minds.” –Keep, Grade 5
- “I thought it was fun because we didn’t use our iPads and played games together. We also really got to know other people.” -Teddy, Grade 6
- “I thought it was a good way to relieve the stress of school work and homework.” –JP, Grade 6
- “I learned that you don’t need technology to have fun.” –Max, Grade 6
We feel this day was very valuable as it reminded the students that technology is not a necessity, and there are many ways to play apart from it. The one challenge they had was they really wished they could have their iPad so they could take a picture of things they had created! — Alicia Gasser, 5/6 Team Leader