Saturday, March 28, 2009

St. Mary's Lab 4 - Healthy Eating

Today March 23, 2009, we had our 4th lab at St. Mary's and the theme was healthy eating! Our group, Jumping Jack & The Thriving 5 came up with an activity to play with the Kindergarteners that allowed our peers to assess the children on throwing and catching using the TGMD-2. We had previously assessed while another group was presenting. We split the children up into 5 groups of about 5 and each group started at a designated hula hoop. All over the gym floor were pictures of junkfood, polyspots and tennis balls. We also positioned 3 large hula hoops to hang vertcailly from 3 basketball hoops. We told the children that they were junkfood police and their mission was to rid their school of unhealthy food. To assess throwing, one student per team went at a time while the other students cheered their teammate on. Their objective was to pick up a tennis ball, stand on a polyspot next to a picture of junkfood, and throw it through one of the hula hoops. When they succeeded, they brought the picture back to their team's designated hula hoop and the next child went. We then modified the game to assess catching. This time, 2 students per team went at a time. To start, one student ran to a polyspot. Then the second student threw them a tennis ball. Next, the first student caught the tennis ball and threw it through one of the large hula hoops. When the games were over, each of us talked to the kids about why it is important to have a healthy diet and had each student tell us what some of their favorite healthy foods were. Then, we went downstairs to the cafeteria with the kindergarteners and colored, played board games, legos, card games, etc.

1. Reflecting on your experience so far at St Mary’s, what do you think have been some difficulties or challenges you have faced? Consider all areas – environment, children, etc.

I would say that the biggest difficulties I have faced so far at St. Mary’s have been getting and keeping the attention of all of the kids at the same time. I feel like it might impossible to have the complete attention of every child simultaneously. No matter what activity you lead, there is always going to be at least one kid that is not interested and does not want to participate. Even when our group leads an activity that almost all of the kids are interested in, there are always a few kids that talk loudly amongst themselves, hit each other, scream at each other, etc., thereby disrupting the attention of other students around them. That leads me to another major difficulty that I have faced and not been very successful in overcoming – responding to disruptive and inappropriate behavior. When kids decide to blatantly not follow directions and disrupt other students around them, I have not had success in getting them to act appropriately. The first lab this happened in, I tried to be very polite and asked the kids to stop repeatedly. This did not work, however, as the students pretty much ignored me and continued to be disruptive. The next lab this happened in, I tried to be polite at first. When that didn’t work, I tried to be more stern, but again failed. Another challenge we have faced is maintaining a safe environment in such a small amount of gym space. At the end of lab when all of the students are in the gym, it gets very crowded and quite hectic. Many different activities are going on, students are running around all over the place, balls are bouncing every which way, etc. It is not a surprise that I have witnessed a few instances of kids getting hit with balls, beanbags, and hoola hoops.

2. What ideas/suggestions do you have to resolve the difficulties or challenges that you wrote about in #1?

To get the attention of all of the kids, shouting “Criss-Cross Apple Sauce” works pretty well because it is what their teachers say to them during the day. To keep the attention of all of the kids, our group found early on that having one person teach allows the kids to focus better on what is being said. When multiple people are trying to teach and explain an activity, it can be rather confusing. In addition to having one person teach, the instructions need to be simple and to the point. These kids have been cooped up all day long and have what appears to be an infinite amount of energy to expend. If it takes a long time to explain instructions, the kids get restless, start moving around, and stop paying attention. Furthermore, the games have to be developmentally appropriate and fun so that the kids remain interested. To make the gym less crowded, there isn’t much we can do. I understand that the gym is sectioned off with cones, but this doesn’t do much to keep kids from running all over the place or keep balls from bouncing everywhere. The only thing that I can really think of to improve safety is if all of the groups were to coordinate with each other and plan out space before hand. This wouldn’t solve all of our problems, but it might be a start.

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