Students at Progress Elementary, 710 N. Progress Road, in the Central Valley School District, are voluntarily staying after school.
The students – about 140 of them in a school of 372 – stay after class until 4 p.m. for the chance to play math games that reflect the new math curriculum the district has adopted.
But the kids don’t really think of the events as doing math. They just know they are having fun.
“The focus is on the kids playing the game,” said Progress Principal Matt Chisholm.
The school has had a couple of these events this year. In past years, the school has had after-school activities to emphasize literacy, but this year, the focus is on math.
In one of the first-grade classrooms, Lauren O’Neill and Cameron Lybbert were playing a game called Animal Race.
One would roll the dice and move their game pieces across the board.
Isaac Ortega and Luke Warrick were playing a card game that focused on whether one card was less, greater or equal to another card.
The classes buzz with students having fun applying what they have learned in math to their games.
The program was organized by third-grade teachers Sharon Naccarato and Paige Laws. The math game afternoons started last fall, and the school plans to have them about once a month.
Naccarato said when they are teaching math in class, they often play games to reinforce what they have been teaching. They noticed how fun the students were having.
“They always want to play more games,” she said.
Chisholm said the program is part of the school’s budget, and the teachers who volunteer to run the games are paid through the school’s activity budget.
Stephanie Morkert, another teacher at the school, led a group of fourth-graders playing bingo. The students identified how many squares were in a certain shape on an overhead projection and marked those numbers on a bingo board with Hershey’s Kisses. The bingo winner received a piece of candy.
Chisholm said teachers often plan what games to play during their common planning time.
The classrooms after school may be noisy, but it is the sound of students having fun.