“STAY OFF THE HILLS!” An Innovative Solution to an Age Old Problem?

IMG_4755 (1)The snow had FINALLY arrived and the kids were excited! The only problem was that they couldn’t enjoy it. The temps in Thunder Bay had dipped below -25 which meant “indoor recess” for days. At long last, by second Nutrition Break on Thursday, the mercury crept a bit higher and @DGrantlearns announcement was music to our ears. We’d be going outside. As large hills had now been created by the plows on our school ground, with safety always in mind, our principal made it clear that students could play on the hills… with many “HOWEVERS”. I reiterated what  @DGrantlearns had said with my grade 5/6 class and hoped for the best… but I had been through the drill many times before.

Within 5 minutes of having our students venture outside to enjoy their recess and although there were multiple hills and ample room for play, students fell and were inadvertently pushed and tripped. It can be argued that a few students were even shoved “on purpose”! A decision was quickly made, our principal announced our students needed to STAY OFF THE HILLS! No one was happy.  We’d been down this road before. The age old question arose: How could our students make use of the snow hills while being safe and having fun? The status quo wasn’t working, we needed to get innovative! Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.58.00 AM

So we put our M.A.D Innovation model into place! We started researching (discussing) how our hills could be used in a different way, while still allowing the kids to have fun, but be safe. While discussing, we recognized that our students loved building with the snow, before it was all plowed up, creating the large hills. We had an idea, what if we broke the hills down, creating manageable chunks and blocks of snow? Upon reflection, we realized this would create smaller hills, perhaps allowing for safer play. Our plan was simple, we needed to obtain a snow chopper and/or shovels to follow through with our idea. We had come up with a plan,  but Mr. Grant had disappeared! Always being a man of action, he had gone into the school and was coming out with a snow chopper. And so the fun began. Mr. Grant and I chopped and the students began celebrating (literally). IMG_4754 01 (1)They worked cooperatively in groups to start building forts, structures and inukshuks! Everyone was happy! “Hey Mr.C, this is like a real life game of Minecraft,” a student yelled. “Man am I getting a workout,” another replied. “If we build the base wider, we’ll be able to build it higher,” another student Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 7.43.47 AMcould be heard contemplating. EUREKA! Within 15 minutes we had “innovated” to make a difference for our whole school community. We’ll need to reflect upon and refine our plans as the winter continues. But it’s a start and a different solution to an age old problem. Perhaps other schools have had similar problems. Maybe they have different solutions and ideas. I’m blogging in an effort to share our idea. We hope others will give us feedback, input and offer suggestions. Also feel free to take our idea, change and/or modify it and put it into action!

As a side note, when the bell rang the students in my class literally begged me to stay outside so they could continue with their fun. How could I say no?  Upon, returning to the classroom after another 30 full minutes of constructive, creative and cooperative play, I had a math problem for them. Could they figure out the volume of the snow cube I had constructed? Read about it in “Snow Math”.




About mrcameron14

I am a Grade 6 teacher of 18 years in Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada. Passionate about sharing with teachers throughout the world. Teaching students how to use technology 4 good and to make a positive difference in the world. Apple Distinguished Educator 2013, SMART Exemplary Educator 2013, Google Educator 2015.
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One Response to “STAY OFF THE HILLS!” An Innovative Solution to an Age Old Problem?

  1. Jonathan So says:

    Great job. This is always a problem at the school and love that the kids decided what to do.

    And look at all the curriculum you got out of it too.


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