“At MECC, we take care of others!”
This was the rallying cry from Mason Early Childhood Center students when talking about their newest playground addition: the Buddy Bench!
MECC first grade teachers Holly Burgess, Michelle Jarmon, BJ Smallwood, and Erin Smith came up with the concept of the Buddy Bench when discussing just how important it is to teach children social skills that will last a lifetime.
“For the past two years we have taught CARES in our classroom, which focuses on concepts including cooperation and self-control,” shared Burgess. “This year we put a big focus on Empathy. We wanted to make this concept more concrete for our students and had heard of other schools that have a buddy bench. We thought this would be a great way for our first graders to put empathy into action!"
Within the classrooms, students and teachers discussed how someone must feel when they don't have anyone to play with at recess. The decision was then solidified for putting a Buddy Bench on the playground for those students who are looking for a play mate to use.
The classrooms of Burgess, Jarmon, Smallwood, and Smith brought in money and used volunteers to build the benches.
MECC Art Teacher Katie Hornung and First Grade STEM Teacher Shannon Sterle helped with painting the benches and making them look beautiful.
“Each student in all four classes had a chance to use their finger print to make a flower on the benches. That way they will be able to have a mark on the bench for years to come,” added Burgess. “Once we were done building and painting the benches, our classes made a video for the school to teach them how to use the buddy bench. All 108 students from our classes were represented, and each child loved seeing their face when it showed up on the video! We told them they were now YouTube movie stars!” (View the Buddy Bench Video HERE.)
There are three Buddy Benches throughout the MECC playgrounds, and are now up and ready for use! These first grade classrooms donated enough money to put two benches on the first and second grade playground and one bench on the kindergarten playground.
“The kids are VERY excited to put them to good use!” shared Burgess.