Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My St. Mary's Experience

Children...what can we say about them? After my experience at St. Mary's School, I can say a lot. Working with these students was a very different, but very helpful experience because after all, this is what we all plan on doing at some point in our lives. There is no better way to find out how you can get childrens attention, have them try activities, or even just interact with them besides getting the experience first hand, and that is what we did.

Lab 1: We got our first experience of being with the children of St. Mary's school here, and all I can say is that it was a lot different than what I expected. The children were full of energy and loved having the freedom of running around and playing any sport they could after being in school for a full day. First was in the cafeteria where the children are getting a snack and playing board games, lego's, or even just drawing. I never thought children would be so enthusiastic about being able to do these simple activities, but all they wanted to do was see what they could create with lego's or who could beat them in a game of checkers. After a little while of playing down in the cafeteria, it was up to the gymnasium where all of the children came to play. There was the older St. Mary's students, the Pre K students, and all of the children in between. Once we got up there it was a completely different environment to say the least, and even a bit overwhelming for the first day. Children were running around all over the place and there were a lot of different games to play, from basketball, to kicking a soccer ball, throwing a football. Anything you can think of, was being done in this gymnasium, and it was a great experience to be able to play with a student and watch them try and catch a ball or shoot a basket. The first time they were able to catch a ball or score a point was such a good feeling because you were there to help them succeed at it and seeing them have such a big smile on their face was what we all were striving to do.

Lab 2: This was the first time that I was able to have the joy of teaching a child a game. However, once we it was our turn to teach, there was some complications. We had the entire game set up and ready to play, we were calling the children over....and then we were told that the children were going downstairs for snack time. This was a little different for us because we did not know what to do now at this point. Once we figured out what to do, which was to clean the game up and go down to the cafeteria with the children, we were told to set up the game in the cafeteria. We weren't sure what to do at this point because it was a different setting with less room to play, but then we figured it out and just made some adjustments which worked out perfect for us because we all know that not everything is going to go according to plan everytime we do something, especially teach. We played the game Stinky Letter Stew with the children and it went very well. The children were very excited to play because they were able to go around and collect letters and were doing different types of movements as they went along. Once they were done collecting the letters the children had to listen to the poem and once they hear their letter be called, they had to put it in the pot to make the stew. The children were very into the game because there were two chefs collecting their letters, stirring the "stew" around, and it got the students very involved. The best part about the lab was when we had the children sing the last phrase of the poem with us and they were all so excited to be able to sing and help us make the Stinky Letter Stew and be a part of the game and it was a fun, but challenging experience because of the on the spot changes that had to be done for the game.

Lab 3: Lab today was all about action/movie hero's, and the children loved it. While being in the cafeteria again with the children, we were all talking about their favorite hero's and it was amazing to hear why the children liked the characters they did, and how much they can recall about the movie that their favorite hero was in. I was not even able to remember some of the parts of the movies the children were referring to until they mentioned it, and I was really impressed by their memories of the movies. While being down there, I was drawing with a few of the students and they all were drawing pictures of their favorite hero's and the batcave, the bat mobile, and all different types of creations that they could come up with. They were very creative with their ideas of how to relate everything back to a certain theme, and especially action/movie hero's. Children were making cars out of lego's calling them the bat mobile and driving it into the bat cave made out of even more lego's or sometimes they used blocks to make buildings and have superman fly around the buildings. Overall it was just an eye opener as to what these children are able to think about and create when they are given a theme and are able to just go with whatever comes to their mind. It made me realize that no matter what you are given for a task, you can make the game or activity whatever you choose to make it as long as you are creative because children will also add their own creativity into it and they will have a great time with it.

Lab 4: Today was an experience like none other. The Pre K students were very different from all of the other age groups while being at St. Mary's. The Pre K students were all very quiet, and did not communicate that much while in the classroom. They all sat down while being read to, or playing any type of game with. However, once they got into the gymnasium it was like a whole new group of kids. They were running around, laughing, yelling, and just having a great time. This caught me by surprise because I was not expecting it, and I was thinking to myself. What are we going to do with these children once we get them into the gymnasium? They answered it right away, because they were all willing to do any type of game. They loved having the freedom of running around, playing catch, kicking a soccer ball, or even just doing an obsticle course to get them to try hopping, leaping, jumping, skipping, etc. One thing that amazed me with a certain Pre K student was when this one little girl was hoola hooping. She was able to do it better than I can and she absolutely loved doing it and wanted anyone to come and watch or even hoola hoop with her. To finish off the day, it was the Spectaculer Six who did the closing for the day. All of the children, even the other fifth graders who usually do not like to dance or do the closing activity did this one. The Macarena!!! The children were all having a blast doing the dance, and even if they did not know how to do it, they would look at another person doing so and learn the parts they were unsure of and then put it all together in order to complete the dance by the end of the song, and the day ended great.

Lab 5: Lab 5 was the second time that the Spectacular Six led in a game. The name of the game was Zig Zag Soccer. The children were to dribble a ball in a zig zag pattern and then once they got to the midfield line they kicked the ball to their teammate on the other side of the gym. Many children were having difficulty dribbling the ball and even kicking it. Whether it be that the ball got away while dribbling, or their kick hit off the wrong part of their foot and went in a completely different direction, but it helped us to realize what we would have to do in order to give the children clues as to what would help them out to dribble it correctly or kick it so the ball goes where they want it to. A few of the children were able to pick up on the tips and were able to control what they were doing, but some of them would try and rush through the cones of the course and then were not able to control the ball. After each student went through the pattern twice, we switched from dribbling a soccer ball to dribbling a basketball, and the children had to switch hands after each cone they passed. This task seemed to be more difficult for some, more than others. The students were not able to really understand the tips that we gave them for dribbling a basketball as well as they were a soccer ball. However, what I did notice was that the children are very good learners once they visualize something. Once we showed the children how to dribble a basketball correctly, with the pads of their fingers, a lot of them were able to do the task great, even when they switched hands.

Lab 6: Where did the time go??? It is already the last lab at St. Mary's and the time seemed to fly by while being there. Today we were leading a game called Fit Fuel Fun for the younger children, and then Multiple-goal soccer for the older children. During Fit Fuel Fun, we made the entire game around an Easter theme since Easter is coming up. The game was very similar to the original game of capture the flag that we all know. However, the variation that we had was that instead of only one flag, there were about 40. The "flags" were easter eggs and they were spread out on each side of the gymnasium floor, and each team had to collect as many eggs as possible without getting tagged. If a person got tagged while on the other side of the court, they had to go to the Bunny Dungeon where they had to pick an easter egg out of the basket and read what was inside. The tasks inside included jumping rope, hoola hoop, skip it, push ups, sit ups, etc. and once the task was completed they were able to return to the game and pick up as many eggs as they could. The children loved doing so because they were protecting their own eggs from being taken, running around trying to not get tagged, and it just was an overall great game because they were all active and enjoyed playing it. With the older children, we played multiple-goal soccer and split them up into three seperate teams. Each team had about 3-5 students and they all played against eachother in order to try and score a goal on any of the other teams. Every student was hustling and doing a great job at defending their own goal, trying to score, and the best part was that they all were looking for their open teammates instead of trying to run around everyone on the other teams. It got the children working together and moving to open space and calling for the ball and passing it just to try and score.

From the beginning to the end at St. Mary's, I had excellent experiences working with children of all ages, skill levels, athletic abilities, etc. This experience was so helpful because all of the children were different in the matter of which game they wanted to play, how they would play it, and it just opened my eyes to what I will be working with as a Physical Education teacher and what kind of activities I am going to have to do in order to get everyone to participate and have a fun with whatever we do, and also hope to have a great influence on the children I teach in order to encourage them to become a Physical Education teacher themselves.