In May, all across the Boyertown Area School District, the school year was winding down as the children were revving up in anticipation of summer. Accordingly, several elementary schools treated their student populations to a day of no work and all games called 'Game Day' or 'Field Day,' depending on the school.
Bad weather on May 21 forced Washington's Game Day to be moved inside, making use of hallways and the stage in order to fit in the game stations. Although there was a rain date set, a decision was made to move indoors to ensure there would be a Game Day this year, since the weather forecast for the alternate date also called for storms.
According to physical education teacher, Carol Kline, 'Everybody, the teachers and the students, cooperated. It was a little hectic having it inside, but most of the teachers were just glad that we got it in that day, because no one wanted to hang on and wait for another day. Considering being inside, the behavior that day was excellent.'
The day was broken down into two sessions, students in Kindergarten through fourth grade participated in the morning, while fifth and sixth graders had their turns in the afternoon.
Kindergarteners went through game stations as a class, while teams of four were created using a mix of first and second grade students, and a mix of third and fourth graders. The fifth and sixth graders, who normally competed outdoors on Game Day playing kickball, whiffle ball, and softball, instead made their way through the stations as well due to the weather.
Some of the games included relay races, parachute, obstacle course, tug-of-war, and limbo, and at one of the stations the children received treats. Teachers worked with approximately 50 parent volunteers to keep the day running smoothly for the 655 students in the school.
Kline, who is retiring after this year, estimated that this was the 25th Game Day that she planned and coordinated, and as always the goal was to have fun.
'The goal is just to have a good, fun time,' explained Kline. 'It also allows the teachers to interact with different students, and parents to come in and have an opportunity to see their children as well.'
At Colebrookdale's Field Day on May 25, the school was divided into nine red teams and nine opposing white teams. At a pep rally the week before, teams chose names and decorated posters to be used to hold first or second place ribbons from each of the nine stations. Then on the day of the event, teams spent a half hour at each station and took a one-hour lunch break mid-way through the day.
'Field Day goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the whole entire school is involved and each team consists of students from Kindergarten to sixth grade. Each team has close to about 20 kids and that includes Life Skills students as well,' explained physical education teacher and Field Day coordinator Darla Lieb.
All of the children were paired up with a 'buddy,' for example, the Kindergarteners and first graders were teamed up with buddies in either fifth or sixth grade. Teachers and staff members served as team leaders throughout the event, parents helped out by running activities or helping teams, and high school education students also volunteered and assisted wherever needed.
Stations included relay races, tug-of-war, bowling, football throw, water activities, and a cage ball game that is always popular with the children. This year a new event – a scavenger hunt – was added where children had to find hidden puzzle pieces then put the puzzle together as a team before the opposing team finished putting theirs together.
'I tried to look for games that were appropriate for all grades that everybody could play from Kindergarten to sixth grade,' said Lieb. 'The coolest part is really watching the kids interact with different grade levels and make new friends.'
Since Lieb splits her time between Colebrookdale and Earl, the Field Day event at Earl on May 21 was very similar, including red versus white teams, posters for ribbons, and use of the buddy system. The one difference, however, was that the forecast called for heavy rain, so Lieb was forced to adjust some of the activities and move everything into the building where the stations were in hallways, classrooms, and the gym.
Two of the cooperative activities that worked well with the students were called 'crossing the river' and 'gridlock.' For each, students were told a story about their situation and they had to use teamwork in order to find a solution for the problem they faced. As Lieb described them, both ended up being part memory, part team-building, and all fun.
Lieb got her ideas for the games from the Internet, physical education conferences, research projects she did in college, and her own inspiration. Although on the surface Field Day promotes activity and fitness, Lieb was quick to point out that the event accomplishes so much more.
'The goal is mostly just team building and getting to know new friends, as well as having good cooperation between each other and good sportsmanship. It's just good healthy competition that's more about making new friends and having fun and getting outside to enjoy the weather and being active,' explained Lieb.