The Gilbertsville-Mount Upton School District hosted a Family Fun Night just before Thanksgiving that welcomed local students and their families to the main gymnasium for an evening of hopping, jumping, reaching and crawling—and all in the name of math and reading education.
The Math & Movement program combines classic education techniques with tactile—or touch-based—exercises that allow students to use physical movement to strengthen their mathematical and literature-based knowledge. The students used more than 40 brightly-colored mats on the gym floor to learn parts of speech, the planets, and math, from addition and subtraction to monetary units and multiplication tables.
The district is applying for a grant that would allow it to purchase its own mats, which are produced by Math & Movement out of Ithaca, NY. A trainer for M&M led GMU teachers in a brief instruction session before the Nov. 19 Family Fun Night event, which was sponsored by the Dryden Mutual Insurance Company.
Math & Movement describes its mats program as a “multi-sensory approach to teaching math and literacy that incorporates physical exercise, stretching, cross-body movements, yoga and visually pleasing floor mats designed to encourage students to practice concepts.”
In GMU’s application to the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education fund, GMU teacher Debra Davies wrote that the district is “100% committed to bringing kinesthetic learning [involving physical movement] to all our students….”
Davies said she was pleased with the night’s introduction to the program and she hopes the district will hear from Lowe’s in January. As soon as a grant is awarded, Davies added, district officials plan to purchase a set of the mats as an enhancement to current classroom teaching.
In the meantime, several teachers who have gone through training recently have created their own versions of some of the maps with the help of their aides, “so that we can work on the same skills.”
Davies noted that the quality of the teacher-made mats “is not nearly as nice, so we are hoping to eventually get the real mats. But we are being creative until that can happen.”
The district may apply for another grant to fund a second Family Fun Night to keep physical movement as a key component for learning.