Alice Smith Elementary School adds Peaceful Playgrounds

Alice Smith Elementary School has added a colorful new component to its playground, but it’s not all just fun and games. Thanks to an HEF grant, donated paint, and the creative thinking of Smith’s guidance counselor Kristin Lutz, the playground surface is home to a wide variety of new painted stencils.

The stencils are the physical aspect of a ‘Peaceful Playground’ program. Painted this summer by PTO volunteers, the stencils may look simple enough, but each provides a host of interesting games specifically designed to teach kids cooperative play. And it keeps them busy.    “Recess can be an exciting time for kids. It’s a chance during the day to let out pent-up energy, but it’s not structured like phy ed,” says Lutz.

‘Peaceful Playgrounds’ is much more than a four square tournament. For each stencil, the program includes instructions for a myriad of games for a wide range of developmental levels. And little do the kids know, Smith staff members have also been subtly teaching them conflict resolution. Lutz explains, “As the students learn more sophisticated games, we’re helping them to problem-solve solutions when conflicts arise.” And part of that conflict has traditionally been caused by too much waiting time for the limited options available.