December 13, 2012

Scooter Board City

2nd graders proudly show off their Scooter Board City drivers licenses
Every year Friends’ welcomes a visitor from the Department of Human Services who comes and checks that we’re doing all the things we’re supposed to be doing in regards to safety, health issues, and record keeping.  The good news is we pass each year with flying colors. The even better news this week came from the inspector who visits dozens of preschools around the county.  When he visited one of our Pre-Kindergarten groups taking a P.E. class in the Great Room with Kathy Sherwood, he exclaimed, “This is impressive.  I have never seen a program that is so exceptional for preschoolers.”

Kathy has been our P.E. teacher at Friends’ for fifteen years. She started teaching here in 1998 and loved the program so much, she moved her own children to Friends’.  They both graduated from our school.  Her daughter Jenny has now graduated from college and her son David is about to enter college.  Kathy has been a Special Olympics Director and Coach, an Infant Stimulation and Preschool Gymnastics teacher, a high school P.E. teacher and Gymnastics coach, an Adapted Physical Education District Consultant, a Fitness Trainer for Special Populations, and she taught Adapted P.E. undergraduate classes at CU.  Quite a resumĂ©.

When I stopped by the Great Room last week, amazing things were happening.  The room was laid out in the form of streets and, in each class, all the students were deeply involved in what was clearly a complex exercise. I could tell how much each student was moving his or her body and how much each student was invested in the activity.  The whole thing was extremely admirable and clearly so elaborate, I wasn’t able to comprehend it all.  That might be because I learned to drive on streets on the wrong other side of the road, but I needed Kathy to explain.

P.E. teacher Kathy Sherwood
The activity was called Scooter Board City.  These are Kathy’s words:

The excitement of your first drivers license, the frustration of your first speeding ticket, and the anticipation of buying that first car…. No, this is not junior year in high school, this is part of P.E. at Friends’. Scooter Board City is one element of our core strength unit, but over the years it has turned into so much more. It is one of the most anticipated P.E. activities of the year. It involves physical fitness, math, economics, cooperation, rules of the road, and lots of serious fun.

For those of you who have kids who don’t talk about school at the dinner table, here’s the real story. First, potential drivers get a drivers permit, which allows them to drive with a fellow student and learn the rules of the road. If successful, they can eventually get a license to drive by themselves. Citizens of Scooter Board City earn money by doing calisthenics at various work stations, which they then use to buy gas, get their car washed, purchase toll way passes, pay taxes, and sometimes even buy a car for a friend.  Unfortunately, sometimes things don't go smoothly and they will also need to pay parking tickets, traffic fines, or replace a lost license.

Scooter Board City also employs shop keepers, bankers, and police officers. These jobs require good math skills and strong understanding of the traffic rules. With a line of customers, shopkeepers need to be good at adding and subtracting quickly, making change, and crowd control. Officers need to know all the traffic laws and the appropriate fines. Police have the right to issue tickets and impound cars. Drivers have the right to appeal the officer’s decisions but they also know that if they lose the argument, they will need to pay court fees as well.

Participating in the different stations
of Scooter Board City
Over the years, the kids’ creative suggestions have been incorporated making this appear very complicated. The number of strategies and rules and how strictly they are enforced increase as the kids get older. Watching a young child who is not able to figure out right from left suddenly get it when there is the possibility of a ticket involved is amazing. Or listening in as a clever investor tries to buy up limited supplies in the hopes that when the store runs out they can resell them at a profit. The younger classes often spend most of their cash on car washes, and filling up the cars with gas, and the older classes amass savings.

No matter, what type of learner they are or how they choose to participate, all the kids exercise for about 40 minutes non-stop. If you have ever tried to sit on a scooter board and push your self around, you will have some idea of how much work it is! The best part is they don’t even realize how hard they are working or how much they are learning.

And that’s one of the wonderful things about our school. Imaginative, practical, fun learning activities that just kind of sneak up on you.  Thanks, Kathy, for an amazing experience for our kids!

On a separate note, I am looking forward to seeing many of you at our preschool and elementary winter celebrations next week.  Please see The Happenings for details.

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