NYS Grants Bring Math & Movement to MLK Elementary School
Thanks to a Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) grant, students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Wyandanch, NY have been using Math & Movement materials – and they’ve been having a lot of fun with them! The CHSC team recently reached out to us to share pictures of focused students jumping up and down skip counting mats in their school’s hallway.
Desire Thompson, MLK Elementary School’s Math Coordinator, shared that the students have been using the mats during math class and their “Fun Fridays” activity time. The school has plans to use the mats more during recess and gym class.
"Scholars have thoroughly enjoyed using the mats," Ms. Thompson said, "They look forward to participating in the math activities. Kids are competitive in nature and they really get a kick out of racing through the mats together."
What is CHSC?
MLK Elementary School received the Math & Movement mats as a result of a donation from CHSC to encourage more physical activity throughout the school day. CHSC is a series of grants funded by the New York State Department of Health to support schools in addressing wellness policies and implementing health and wellness programming. They also work with local communities to increase the availability of nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity, making it easier to practice healthy behaviors.
CHSC and Wyandanch Union Free School District, located on Long Island, have worked together for eight years. Under the grant, CHSC purchased the Math & Movement mats and gave them to MLK Elementary School as theirs to keep! For several years, CHSC has been purchasing Math & Movement materials and distributing them to schools under their jurisdiction. This year, Western Suffolk BOCES was the recipient of three CHSC grants.
Karyn Kirschbaum, the School and Community Wellness Coordinator at Western Suffolk BOCES, recalled that she first learned about Math & Movement at a conference before the COVID-19 pandemic. At this conference, she met Math & Movement CEO and Founder Suzy Koontz. Since then, Suzy has led multiple professional development trainings for Long Island school districts. Karyn believes strongly in the value of movement-based learning and wants the word of Math & Movement to get out “across the country.”
CHSC Programming: Every Kid Healthy Week
Recently, CHSC and Wyandanch School District came together to celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week. This national observance, held during the last week of April, was started by the Action for Healthy Kids association to encourage healthy activities. Karyn says that the celebration looks different every year.
This year, Wyandanch School District offered healthy food tastings for students, dental screenings, and toiletry product giveaways. Math & Movement was also a part of the celebration! The community participated in movement-based activities while practicing fundamental math concepts.
Getting Math & Movement Into Schools
Karyn said the schools that received Math & Movement materials from the grant really like them. She recalled a heartwarming story of a student in a wheelchair moving down a mat and their classmates standing along the sides of the mat cheering them on.
Karyn acknowledges that finding time in the school day for new activities can be challenging, but she is dedicated to finding new ways to support schools that want to implement movement-based learning. The value of combining physical activity and learning cannot be overlooked.
"We are big fans of movement-based learning and understand that not all of our students learn in the same way," Ms. Thompson stated. "Using these mats has and will continue to help support our tactile/kinesthetic learners."
Ms. Thompson also shared that the students with stronger math skills naturally encouraged and motivated those with weaker skills. The learning environment was competitive yet collaborative.
Each series of CHSC grants lasts five years. Currently, CHSC is in its second year. There are 22 grants available state-wide in New York. Western Suffolk BOCES can work with schools across three townships on Long Island – Hempstead, Babylon, and Islip. Karyn excitedly shared that since Every Kid Healthy Week, another school interested in receiving Math & Movement materials has reached out to her!
CHSC Grant Funding Available
If you are in one of the school districts listed below and are interested in bringing Math & Movement materials to your school, CHSC grant funding may be available! Be sure to check out the resources below to learn more. The deadline to claim materials is May 26, 2023.
- Amsterdam City School District
- Albany City School District
- Cohoes City School District
- Mechanicville City School District
- Schenectady City School District
- Rensselaer City School District
- Troy City School District
- Watervliet City School District
If you are not at one of the above districts but would still love to bring Math & Movement to your school, consider reaching out to your district’s CHSC Liaisons to learn about the available resources.
Join MLK Elementary School in adding physical activity to every school day! Your students will be healthier and more confident in math as a result.
Photos courtesy of Healthy Schools and Communities Long Island.