MECC Problem-Based Learning Activity

MECC Problem-Based Learning Activity
Posted on 06/12/2019
MECC Problem-Based Learning Activity Turns Into Opportunity to Serve Classmates' Recess NeedsThis year, Mason Early Childhood Center students noticed a need for more activity-based learning and doing on the playground. 

"So my friends and I were noticing that some kids aren’t playing at recess and other kids are not playing correctly with the recess toys. My friends and I talked to our teacher and my entire class agreed it’s a problem. Now the whole class decided we needed more activities for the playground," explained Meeghan Smith.

Meeghan and her classmates spoke to their MECC first grade teacher Monica Johnston about their concerns, and from there, a heart-centered project was born.

Activity stations were painted on the MECC playground blacktop with themes like 'American Ninja Warrior,' but with only the 'Be Kind Always' theme.

"It was an in the moment, problem solving kind of idea that we just sat down and came up with in March due to several playground issues my class was having," shared Johnston. "We did, however, go through the design thinking process and followed the protocol of collaboratively designing the activities for the blacktop.

Once the plan was in place, the students tried out the activities to make sure they would work and were safe for kids by drawing with chalk and testing it out. The ninja theme came from a group of students who had a vision, and also researched pictures online to use as examples, making a few minor changes of their own.

"We are still working on this project and it will most likely take us to the end of the year," added Johnston. 

Once the plan was in place, Johnston reached out to MECC Principal Melissa Bly for  permission to move forward with the project. After approved, a grant was received from MECC's PTO to buy the paint, and then the work began this spring. 

"My students are in groups based on the game they added," shared Johnston. "Each day either myself, our Mason High School Teacher Academy student, or a parent volunteer takes a small group of kids outside to paint during our second recess. The kids are actually giving up their second recess to help improve our blacktop/ playground area!" 

This project began as a project-based learning activity, but has turned into an unintentional heartfelt act of service. The students are beyond proud of their work, and are able to feel the power of what a random act of kindness can do. 

"As they watch other students from MECC try out their playground activity, they have overheard comments saying that it's awesome and fun!"
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