Our play projects centre around improving mental wellness through land-based learning. We plan to spend time outside hiking and exploring our environment while connecting Indigenous teachings. We will work together with our Indigenous Consultant and Knowledge Holder to plan outdoor experiences for our students following the Cree Calendar. We hope to build partnerships with neighbouring First Nations communities through an outdoor Winter Festival that will celebrate the diverse cultures of our local area. Some of the activities we hope to explore include: snowshoeing, canoeing, preparing traditional foods, horseback riding, dog sledding, and Indigenous games. We aim to increase student and family engagement through sharing in these activities together. Our ultimate goal is to build awareness of reconciliation and to build partnerships that will endure for years to come.
Tell us about your team and your school community.
Our school community is in the center of a rich agricultural area, and our town has approximately 2100 residents. Our team consists of grade 5, 6, 7 teachers, our vice principal, and personalized learning mentor. Molly Clark is the grade five teacher, phyical activity enthusiast, and active learner in land-based education. Jennelle Minish has a passion for building relationships with parents and students and student mental wellness. Stephen Hadden is our school mentor for personalized learning. Angela Sparks is our vice-principal and team leader with a background in play-based learning in the early years. Derek Argue is our physical education director and lover of the outdoors. Our community has experienced an influx of immigrant families in the last five years, and we are in close proximity to Red Pheasant and Mosquito First Nations. We value personalized learning and family engagement in partnership with our active School Community Council.
Tell us about the importance of learning through play for your team and for your students.
Learning through play offers opportunities for learners of all abilities to show their strengths. It helps students to build self-regulation and enhances cooperation through team activities. Learning through play offers natural opportunities for student leadership and for students to have voice and choice in their learning. It increases student and family engagement and promotes increased mental and physical wellness for staff and students. We feel that learning through play is a meaningful way for our students to engage in the beauty of Indigenous culture. When students are fully engaged in learning through play, the learning is immersive and incorporates cross-curricular outcomes.
Tell us about your interest in joining the Canadian Playful Schools Network.
We were just beginning our journey of play in the middle years and welcomed the opportunity to connect and collaborate with our teams on the same journey. The Canadian Playful Schools Network is helping us to try some new things that we wouldn’t have had the resources for otherwise. We are looking forward to meeting our playgroup and learning from other schools’ experiences, as well as having the opportunity for in-person networking in Ottawa. We are excited to see the longer-term effects in wellness and reconciliation in our school and community from this valuable project.