12 Nov

The Curriculum of Recess: by Susan Abramson

Recess is one of the most cherished traditions of elementary schools, and it is filled with opportunities for physical activities and self-directed play.  For some children, recess is their favorite time of day.  This year, we began to notice that for others recess was a time that was more stressful, and we realized that it was time for us to take a closer look at our “curriculum” of recess.  As a part of this work, we have made a commitment to identify and teach recess behaviors throughout the year. 

First graders enjoying their time together!

Recess behaviors include skills such as negotiating rules of organized games, including selecting teams and practicing how to be a good sport, caring for equipment and playing inclusively and fairly. Faculty have identified skills and games they would like to teach, and we now include these skills and games as a part of the “recess curriculum” each week, without cutting into the children’s recess time.  By highlighting and teaching these skills and clarifying our expectations to children, our goal is that with faculty supervision we are no longer reacting to situations, but rather proactively teaching positive recess behaviors.

Lower School faculty learning a game called “Flinch”!  Be careful, Mrs. Sienicki!

Most of the faculty in the Lower School now spend some time supervising recess, which we hope sends the message to children that we think the learning and work of recess is just as important as reading, writing, and mathematics.  Also, we want to assure them that the adults are here to keep them safe, set a positive tone, and make sure that we protect the time and space in the day for recess.

The Importance of Student Voice: by Kim Lewis
As we launch our recess curriculum for this school year, we believe that the inclusion of student perspective and voice are necessary in our work to enhance the recess experience.

All of the students in grades 1 through 5 had a chance to answer the following prompts about recess:

1. Why do we have recess?
2. What do you love about recess?
3. What should recess look like, sound like, and feel like?
4. What are some of the challenges that arise during recess?

Our students are very clear that recess should be both fun and fair. They also shared that they need more assistance in learning how to select fair teams and how to better resolve conflicts that may arise.  

Student recess representatives, from grades 2 through 5, were selected to review the responses through a series of meetings with Ms. Lewis and Ms. Abramson.  They have shared great insights about some of the challenges that arise during recess and they have also been very thoughtful about discussing ways that we can work as a community to address the challenges.

In the coming weeks, the recess representatives will help to craft a statement of belief about recess that they will share with their classmates.  This is an exciting process that is underway!  We will be certain to share the results.

The 5th grade recess representatives have a lunch meeting in Ms. Lewis’ office.

5th grade students listens to reminders about having a fun and safe recess
Third grade friends – taking a recess break near purple playground.

Parents: We need you!
Do you recall any of the games that you played during recess when you were in elementary school?  We hope so!

If you do remember the name of the game and the basic instructions, please send that information to Susan Abramson at abrams@d-e.org.  She and Kim Lewis will be working to create a database of recess games that can be taught to the children this school year.  They would love to know about games that you played during indoor recess as well! 

Thank you!

Recess Photo Gallery – Students and Teachers

Students Having Fun!

Teachers Having Fun Too!

A Very Special Visitor: by Beth Lemire


In science class, the third and fourth grade had a wonderful visit with guest Joani Henry, who came to speak with the children about her Native American culture.  Through open discussion and storytelling, Joani conveyed the importance of the natural world to the children.  She noted the significance of the Hudson River in her culture and spoke of the river as a living being.  

She showed the students some native instruments and some homemade moccasins that she wears at home and for festivals.  Joani explained the process of making moccasins from tanning deer hide with smoke to sewing the individual beads.  The students also received a lesson in some of the indigenous languages that are spoken and that sadly, are in danger of dying out. 

The children noted that in Joani’s culture, traditions were passed down through oral stories so listening was very important. 

The students had many questions for Joani and they continued to talk about her long after her visit had ended.  We are so grateful that she came in to spend time with us!