Wheeling Country Day School celebrated the Worldwide Day of Play on Friday, Sept. 24, by offering an extended recess to its students. For 35 minutes, children in grades kindergarten through fifth had options to participate in structured or unstructured play or to volunteer in the student garden.
A wiffle ball game, games of catch and tag, and playground time all were part of the flurry of activities on the front lawn of the Woodsdale school during the noon hour. Older students weeded and harvested in the garden and also helped teachers set up a brand new compost bin beside the garden that will be used to fertilize next spring's crops.
The garden project began last year after the school was awarded $2,500 as one of 123 recipients of Nickelodeon's Big Help grants to help launch or continue "green" community projects.
Wheeling Country Day School used the money to set up the garden and purchase supplies, including the new compost bin. The garden is being incorporated into the curriculum as well as into the school's new lunch program, directed by Julie Cartwright and Myra Orban, that focuses on serving the students healthy, fresh and homegrown food.
The students not only have the opportunity to plant, maintain and harvest the produce, the "Kids in the Kitchen" sessions bring them into the kitchen alongside Cartwright and Orban, where they are taught how to use that produce to create healthy, nutritionally balanced meals. The compost bin brings the program full circle as the "green" kitchen scraps are tossed into it after lunch.
The Kids in the Kitchen course covers a variety of class subjects, including science, social studies, math and culture studies, according to school officials.
As a recipient of the Nickelodeon grant, Wheeling Country Day School agreed to participate in the Worldwide Day of Play. Following the older children's activities, the 3- and 4-year-olds took advantage of the warm and windy day - playing games with a colorful parachute, romping on the playground and taking turns twirling and tossing nylon streamers and scarves.