There is an old saying that "play is a child's work". I was considering this one winter's day out at recess when it seemed like the children had an abnormal amount of fighting, arguing and tackling each other. I looked around and notice that there wasn't a whole lot for them to play with. Balls and jump ropes don't work well in the snow and create a mess when brought indoors. Playground equipment is slippery and monkey bars are impossible to do with glove or mittens on. What were the children to do? Well, being the recycler that I am, I was cleaning out my "plastic container bin" and I discovered a number of container with odd shapes or no lid. I put them in a bag an brought them out to recess. They were a hit! The kids got busy making snow cakes, snow castles and moving snow from one area of the playground to another. They had meaningful work!
I also started to reflect on my role as playground supervisor during my recess duty. My classroom overlooks the playground so I get to observe how other teachers approach recess duty. More often than not I see the teachers standing together talking to each other while kids go off to unobservable corners and well, I've seen girls decided to exclude each other, boys beating the snot out of each other.( Not out of anger mind you but out of the tiger cub mentality that comes so natural to boys)
I don't blame the teachers for wanting a little adult conversation. We spend all day with little people and we are "on" teaching and entertaining and keeping the peace in general.
The point of this reflection is that kids still need us at recess duty to engage them, play with them and organize games that don't involve tackling your friends to the ground. We are "on" during recess duty too.
I teach in an urban environment and I am aware that many of my student don't know how to play. They watch T.V and play video games because their parent are overwhelmed with survival and it may not be safe for them to play outside. In a way, we teachers have to teach kids how to play.
So next time I'm out at recess duty I will be aware of this and think of a fun game for all of us to play.