Crawling down from the straw bales to the wooden planks are, Charlie Metke, left, and Ahliya Henning.
Crawling down from the straw bales to the wooden planks are, Charlie Metke, left, and Ahliya Henning.

   Last week Tuesday, three Lumen Charter High School students — August Walheim, Becca Bogucke and Halle Hadel — along with Ripon High School Spanish teacher Kat Griffith taught students at Barlow Park Elementary/Journey Charter Schools how to play safely on the new nature playground equipment.

   The new playground features, comprised of straw bales donated by Pete Badke and Michelle Leinweber and wooden planks, were installed over Thanksgiving weekend by Walheim and Griffith.

   During the elementary students’ recess periods Tuesday, the three high-schoolers demonstrated how the kids should pick up the wood boards, balance on the planks and how to safely use the see-saws by communicating with each other.

   After the mini-lesson, the kids dispersed among the new equipment and tried to employ the new safety practices as they played while Griffith, Walheim, Hadel and Bogucke coached them.
While watching the children play over the last week or so, Griffith noted the playground is a learning experience for the students.

   “What I see from observing the kids at this playground is that 1) they are thrilled to be given some genuine challenges; 2) they embrace the challenges with energy and joy ..., ” she said, adding the kids, with supervision, are able to employ new ideas and learn from their mistakes. “In just over a week I already see progress in their play. I have seen a number of kids move boards just the way we asked, and none moving them far or unsafely on their own ... I consider that a pretty fast learning curve for a bunch of young kids.”

   See more photos in the Dec. 6, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.