Sibley Elem. students benefit from indoor recess kits thanks to SHIP grant funding

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Items such as activity dice, hacky sacks, stacking cups, weighted scarves and bean bags are included in each indoor recess kit. Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

Items such as activity dice, hacky sacks, stacking cups, weighted scarves and bean bags are included in each indoor recess kit. Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

When the students of Sibley Elementary School cannot go out to recess, recess will come to them thanks in part to a grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program.

Last October, Freeborn County SHIP Coordinator Alice Englin came to the school leaders with an opportunity for them to receive grant funding.

According to Kathy Hoen, school health committee chairwoman and speech teacher at Sibley, staff then did some research to see how such funding would best benefit their students.

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“Alice helped us a great deal with ideas and how to utilize the information we found and make it applicable to our students at different grade levels,” Hoen said.

The result was the idea for inside recess kits that enable children to receive the benefit of physical activity even on days when it is too cold or yucky to go outside and play.

According to Hoen, the school chose to go with Stay and Play Recess on Wheels activities. Each grade level at Sibley has two kits that have equipment for a variety of activities that can be done indoors, as well as ideas for other activities that can be done inside without the use of any equipment. Items in the kits range from hacky sacks and weighted scarves to a set of activity dice. Booklets come with each kit that have multiple pre-planned ideas for each of the items in the kit, so teachers can pick which games will work best for their individual classrooms.

“Teachers are always planning reading and math lessons,” Sibley Principal Diane Schultz said. “Having these things already set up for them enables them to get in there and make sure it’s utilized right away versus, it sits on the shelf until they have time to make the activities.”

The process for getting the kits started in October 2014 with the kits coming in May 2015. The school will benefit from SHIP money again this year.

Last year the school received a $4,000 grant to purchase the indoor recess kits. This year the school received a grant for $8,000.

According to Schultz, the new grant money will cover a variety of items. Before the beginning of the new year, students will benefit from a new water filtration system for the second floor of the school, so students don’t have to go to first floor to refill their water bottles.

Schultz also planned for funding to provide outdoor recess kits so children have more options than playing on the playground equipment or playing basketball. Kits could include equipment needed to play such games as croquet or frisbee golf. She plans to meet with the school’s wellness committee and get input from teachers and students about they would like to see. She will then see what fits in the budget. A storage shed will also be purchased so the equipment doesn’t need to be lugged back and forth.

The additional funding will help the school expand its outdoor garden by getting seeds started inside during the school year and providing for a garden shed for the gardening supplies.

The physical education teacher will also receive the equipment needed to started a Sibley Skippers Club that children in the school will be able to sign up for and a new Spark curriculum. The Skippers Club will allow students to come in on Friday mornings and jump rope, while the curriculum will help the teacher do more assessments during physical education class. The curriculum is geared to the national physical education standards and accommodates the grade levels of all of Sibley’s students.

Both Hoen and Schultz noted Blue Zones Project Coordinator Ellen Kehr has been instrumental in helping the school institute programs that encourage physical activity.

“I think we’re always looking for ways to promote healthy lifestyles for our students,” Schultz said, noting the school looks at the whole child, not just academic needs, but their social, emotional and physical needs as well.

She said the resources SHIP provides them with, along with Englin and Kehr’s expertise, have given them a means to help the them ensure each student is the best, well-rounded student they can be before they leave Sibley.