When the Manawa School District planned Family Fun Night the goal was to create an event that provided hands on experiences for students, and not just someone speaking them.
“We wanted to try and bring something in to get parents involved but also something that was going to touch everyone one of our students here at Manawa Elementary School,” said Jeni Mursau, Reading Specialist/Title I at Manawa Elementary School.
Mursau said through her research she found Rita Wespi of Math Matinee. Wespi is from California and for the past 15 years has been coordinating math events – including anything from day activities to family night events.
The school’s Title I funds were used to help bring Wespi to Manawa Elementary School Thursday, April 26. The day was split into 40 minute time slots in which students from multiple grades played different games that taught them about math, including strategy and logic. Kindergarten through sixth grade students participated in the event.
“That’s one of the important things about school-wide Title I, because we are school-wide Title I, we are not a targeted Title so every single kid in our school is considered a Title student, so this event really touched every one of our students which was one of our goals,” Mursau.
Mursau said some of the games that were played could be played using everyday items that are available. For example, one of the games included a restaurant version in which white sugar packets and pink Sweet ‘n Low packets could be used to play while waiting for a meal at a restaurant.
“I think now they have an understanding that math isn’t just about numbers and pencils and paper,” Mursau added. “There is a lot more in math than just that. I think she gave a whole new twist to what is math.”
Mursau said the students enjoyed the games and were disappointed when their 40 minutes were up.
“If you would have allowed them to stay, they would have stayed,” Mursau said. “It was amazing to walk around and see how engaged they were in these games that were out on the table. I was very pleased with how they reacted to it.”
During the evening, the Waupaca Lions Club held a pancake supper that parents were invited to. Mursau said more than 150 people attended the supper. The games that were played during the day could also be played during the evening so students could show their parents what they learned.
“The parents were estatic,” Mursau said. “This was a brand new type of event four us at Manawa Elementary. We’ve never had something to this extent. It was very successful.”
Events like this outside the classroom are very important, Mursau said.
“I think the key is getting mom and dad in here too,” Mursau said. “That doesn’t happen every day in the classroom. For them to be able to bring mom and dad in and show them and teach mom and dad things, I think is important.”