Coman Hill Elementary School is taking educational play to the next level in a big, bright and very fun way, thanks to the Byram Hills Education Foundation.
The new Educational Play Space due to arrive at Coman Hill this fall is a brightly-colored, two-level, commercial-grade indoor playscape with plenty of room for kids to crawl, slide and climb. In the educational play space, students in kindergarten through second grade will be exercising their bodies as well as their minds.
“I am over the moon for this new educational play space,” Principal Mary Beth Crupi said. “It’s a fabulous opportunity for our students to grow and learn, both socially as well as educationally, while having fun.”
“We know that social and emotional health, coupled with educational curiosity, is paramount to a child's success,” she added. “Our indoor educational play space is the perfect venue to merge a child's natural desire to play while making learning fun.”
Educational play is play that encourages socialization and problem-solving. It’s important because it helps students build friendships, strengthens their vocabulary and communication skills and pushes them to persevere through challenges.
“Socially, using the play space is going to assist our students with communication and emotional health and intelligence, but educationally, it’s also going to carry over into the classroom as children learn problem-solving, persistence and working together,” Ms. Crupi said. “Having these skills transferred into the learning environment helps us build the leaders of the next generation.”
The play space will be located in a newly constructed area of the school’s lower level. The massive structure will feature various pieces of equipment that provide sensory input and give children multiple ways to build vital relationship skills like taking turns and sharing.
The structure will feature elements such as a kid conveyor, in which students climb over or under rotating rollers, obstacle course components like hover rings and sky wheels that are suspended from the ceiling and sit and spin equipment. There will be a fun forest with suspended soft rollers that kids can run through. While at play here, students also will be practicing their balance and coordination.
Without students even realizing it, the skills they develop and strengthen in the play space can be used in the classroom as well, Ms. Crupi says. “If a student is having difficulty solving a math problem, the teacher can bring the experience from the play space back into the classroom,” she said.
For example, Ms. Crupi said, a teacher might say: “Remember you had a difficult time going through the hover ring, but you persisted and kept trying to alter your body? Remember how good that made you feel when you got it? It’s the same thing here in math. I don’t want you to give up on this problem. Try it another way, just like you tried the hover ring another way.”
Teachers will have the chance to bring students to the play space for movement breaks or as a reward for great work, and it can also be used for indoor recess, giving students another chance to be active during bad weather. “This area can be used in multiple ways,” Ms. Crupi said.
“Coman Hill is extremely unique in that our students will have this opportunity, which is not offered in other nearby schools in Westchester County,” Ms. Crupi said. “The generosity of the Byram Hills Education Foundation is truly overwhelming. We are fortunate beyond belief to have a foundation that supports us to this magnitude.”