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Wheaton Montessori News

Planning for the Practice Sleepover
Categories: Elementary Program / Student Interview

Today, three sixth graders came into the office to discuss the planned activities for the upcoming Practice Sleepover.  Specifically, they wanted to ask to be responsible for planning the games and outdoor activities for the evening.  The girls have watched previous 6th graders take up the mantle of “the oldest” during past sleepovers and wanted to help lead this year.


What’s the big deal?


These girls aren’t just getting excited about playing “Battle Ball,” “Long-Distance Telephone,” “Gaga Ball,” and more.  They truly see this as an opportunity to provide a service for their friends and classmates.  They’ll “practice” even before the “Practice Sleepover.”  They’ll go over instructions and timing.  They’ll practice speaking loudly, clearly, and quickly enough to get the games started. They have approached their teachers to pitch an idea, offering ideals, goals, and plans.  It’s a practical lesson in leadership, public speaking, organization, and even marketing an event to an audience!

After the three, (Kiara, Sophia, and Taren) settled on a plan with Ms. Lingo, I took the chance to ask the three friends a few questions about the Practice Sleepover.   Here are a few of their ideas, thoughts, and plans.


Experienced Students as Mentors – Even During Game Time


The girls are very conscious of their role as mentors to first grade students this year; many of their ideas spring from the notion that they need to help include and comfort these younger students.   Specifically, Sophia noted that many of the games to be played are favorites of the 1st and 2nd graders.  They want to plan “something that the youngest really like, but will include the whole community. That way everyone is involved.”

I asked the three specifically about their plans for helping nervous friends during the Sleepover.  Sophia responded: “Well, anytime someone is nervous, we always just say, “Come join us!’ and get them involved.”  Taren: “Right!  To get their minds off of it – like a distraction for them.”


Planning with a Montessori Background:


The girls are planning a large range of games – boisterous outdoor games, quieter games towards the end of the evening, and choices for all.  When I asked, “Why so many?”, their Montessori background showed.

K: “Offering a choice is really important.  Not everyone enjoys the same activity.”

S: “Not everyone CAN do the same activity! We need to plan games that are inclusive, that entice EVERYONE.”

T: “It’s important to have something that everyone is drawn to… not just something for a few people to have fun and the rest watch.”


A Classroom Lesson Becomes Sleepover Entertainment


One of the games that the girls are planning is a version of “Telephone,” but with a long-distance twist.  Think “Outdoor-Relay-Race-Meets-Telephone.”

The idea came to the students as a direct result of a history lesson with Ms. Searcy.  Ms Searcy was presenting a lesson on the Incan civilization, which had no written alphabet.  However, the Inca had a system of relaying verbal messages across long distances (called “Chaskis” or “Chasquis”).  Messengers with reliable memories would travel great distances to subsequent messengers along a trail until the verbal communication reached the intended recipient.