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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Special, Courtesy Batavia Daily News, by Megan Winter:
Perry elementary schoolers break out the board games for old-fashioned fun

The boisterous noise could be heard as soon as you entered the stairwell that led to Pam Patridge’s and Brittany Hasler’s first grade classrooms in Perry Elementary School. The sound was loud, echoing off the walls, but filled with joy, laughter — and fun.

Students were huddled in small groups around both classrooms. In one corner, Elijah Wolcott and Soren Bouchard played Minecraft Uno, while across the hall, Hasler played Yahtzee with students Milliana Gard and Parker Court.

The school participated Wednesday in the Global School Play Day for the third consecutive year. Classes joined many around the world in spending the entire school day — or a partial day — simply playing.

Board games, card games, dice games, or social games such as Pictionary were permitted, but nothing that included batteries or electricity. Students could build forts, play dress-up, or draw — the possibilities were endless.

Classes ventured outside in the milder weather to play in the snow. Special area teachers even joined the fun.

Elementary Principal Maura Gilsinan first introduced students to the unstructured playtime in February 2020. Last year, due to COVID-19 protocols, classes played outside and participated in a snowman building contest.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Gilsinan found value in participating again this year.

“Now more than ever, I want our students to feel like kids again,” she said. “I wanted to give them time to let loose, play, learn about each other, and laugh.”

With technology at the forefront of everything we do, there has been a decline of play in culture. Organizers say is an integral part of a child’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development.

The day promotes unstructured play with limited interference from teachers as students are encouraged to use their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

In Ruth Manchester’s second grade classroom, students Grace Gattuso and Janet Gurung were counting spaces together as each one moved through a board game. They didn’t agree on the spaces that were counted, but respectfully listened to each other’s opinion.

Before settling back into their classroom, Manchester’s students were playing games with Katie Luczak’s Pre-Kindergarten class.

“For me, the benefit of the day is communicative,” Manchester said. “Every year there are kids you can see that struggle with aspects of game-playing like taking turns. Students learn about good sportsmanship in Physical Education or sports, but now they’re learning to be good sports in something like this.”

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