Green means you are playing and red means you are not.

During the winter months a game evolved on the playground. A game that involved stealing someone’s hat.  To some this game was great fun and to others it was a real problem.  We noticed a division happening within the group.  We heard language used to describe classmates as  “good” or “bad” and “mean” or “nice.”  We also saw mixed messages being sent; smiling faces were coupled with shouts of “I’m not playing!”   

In an effort to create understanding amongst the group, we teachers posed a question, “How do you know if someone is playing the game?”  The children have been studying this for many months.  The above photo is of their efforts to create a sign or a signal for others to understand your position on the playground.  Red if you are not playing the game and green if you are.

Mine’s a belt.  It will stay on more.

Stop! Stop! Stop!  (pushing buttons) AVIA

It fits!  

This is mine.  SOFIA

Nice.  HELEN

I have finished my belt.  I am not playing the game.  When I am playing the game I will wear my green sweater.  CHARLOTTE

G-O. (written on belt) Why do you need to write go if it is green?  So if you’re color blind you can know.  NICO

You have to measure it.  CHARLOTTE

Below is an excerpt of two children working on their belts –

Big, medium, small (buttons). Eleanor 

Look I did it.  I’m a really good at sewing.  If I keep doing this I’ll be a sewer. Avia

Sometimes you go through double holes (on the buttons).  Avia

I’m not done with this button yet.  Eleanor

Now the bunny has to dig, dig, dig, dig.  Bunny goes down into the ground to get his other friends.  Eleanor

Oh no, my tail got tangled.  This is a chocolate home.  Yummy.  Avia

Two more buttons! Avia

Now the bunny went through a rock!  (needle hits a button’s edge) Eleanor

I have a new friend and it’s Eleanor!  Avia

Can you still play with me?  Sofia

Yes!  Avia

Ok, let’s all race outside.  Eleanor

Let’s (first) have snack together!  Sofia

 Though the belts might help, we witness children solving the problem in another way.  Working together in small groups, they begin to learn about each other, grow familiar with one another, and in so doing, they seem to consider the chase game differently.  Sewing together fosters new friendships, new understandings that are then carried out onto the playground.  Initial judgements and approaches are reconsidered.