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VIDEO: Handmade Playsets Bring Together Clarence Middle School, Kindergarten Students

VIDEO: Handmade Playsets Bring Together Clarence Middle School, Kindergarten Students
Updated

Kindergarten students had a chance to use their imaginations and build skills while playing as they had their first chance to use a playset specially built for them by students at Clarence Middle School.

In Boni McClaren’s kindergarten classroom at Clarence Center Elementary School, orders were flooding in at the playset, which was decorated as an ice cream shop. The playsets, built after middle school students and staff consulted with kindergarten students and teachers, will have the option to become a wide range of business settings, or even set up as a stage area for creative activities like puppet shows.

“The kids love to play and engage in their play,” McClaren said. “It’s so meaningful for them to engage with each other and learn to share and get along.”

Plans are for the playsets, built with support from Clarence Schools Enrichment Foundation and Buffalo Construction Consultants, Inc., to eventually be constructed for all 19 kindergarten classrooms across the district’s four elementary schools during this upcoming fall and winter. The June 18 unveiling brought a wide range of school staff and supporters of the Clarence Central School District together at the elementary school.

Rosalyn Vasi, the district’s Curriculum Design and Program Implementation Coordinator, said the sets can help develop students’ critical thinking and language skills, and promote their social-emotional wellness.

“It’s hitting the mark on so many parts of the curriculum,” she said.

For the middle school students involved in making the sets, the project taught them a wide range of project management skills in addition to the technical skills in preparing the wooden playsets. Students arrived early on school mornings to move the project forward from cardboard mock designs to finished items.

Days before the unveiling, the students could be seen sanding down wood pieces, and adding things like pocket holes to pieces before final assembly.

“You could see the excitement on their faces once they started using the machines,” said middle school technology teacher Daniel Tarnowski. “They can tell it’s finally happening. There was lots of model making and scheduling and concepts. Now we’re building.”

Students were selected for the project based on their performance through the school year, and students said they appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the final effort.

“I feel proud to have been chosen to do this and give them something to do,” said Blake Rosenberg, a seventh grade student. “Hopefully they get a lot of joy from it and they get to use it for a while.”

Sixth grader Rose Reed beamed as she had the chance to sand down a wooden piece of the playset.

“I was excited to start building it,” she said. “It’s really cool that I’m making something for other people.”

Dr. Kristin Overholt, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Clarence Central School District, said the unveiling was possible because of the collaboration and effort from many students, staff and community members.

“This is a really special place, where everyone is willing to go above and beyond for the betterment of our students,” she said.

See coverage of the unveiling from WGRZ-TV at https://www.wgrz.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/most-buffalo/clarence-middle-schoolers-build-play-ice-cream-shop/71-037d521a-803b-42a3-9e84-f9fabc2ecfb6.

Clarence Middle School eighth grader Mia Collins talks to Clarence Center Elementary School kindergarten student Lydia about an ice cream shop set up as part of a new playset in Boni McClaren’s kindergarten class at Clarence Center Elementary School.
Clarence Middle School teachers Josh Arnold and Daniel Tarnowski work with students on developing playsets for kindergarten students in the Clarence Central School District on June 11, 2024.
Clarence Center Elementary School kindergarten students pose in front of a newly built playset created by Clarence Middle School students. Developers of the sets say the play areas can develop students’ critical thinking and language skills.
Clarence Center Elementary School kindergarten students Asher, Paisley, and Lydia take an order at a newly built playset created by Clarence Middle School students. Developers of the sets say the play areas can develop students’ critical thinking and language skills.
Clarence Middle School sixth grader Rose Reed sands a piece of wood to be used to build a playset for kindergarten students on June 11, 2024.
Kindergarten teachers and staff pose for a photo with middle school technology teachers involved in the development of playsets for kindergarten classrooms. Plans are for playsets to be built for each of the 19 kindergarten classrooms across the Clarence Central School District.
Clarence Center Elementary School kindergarten students are served ice cream in their classroom by teacher Kristen Lammerhirt.