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Tunnel Tuesday is Big Hit with Ms. McCleaf's Class

Wyatt Hamilton crawling through the tunnel.

Shawn Gamble and Miss McCleaf.

After crawling through the tunnels the students write their numbers on the whiteboard.

Miss McCleaf took the concept of “math exercises” to a whole new level in December, when she and Alissa Jones created a program that combined math with physical movement.

The concept was simple, but effective. Miss McCleaf and Mrs. Jones set up a series of three tunnels, the perfect size for a Kindergartener to crawl through. Miss McCleaf would then show the student a number on a flashcard they had to remember and the student would crawl through the tunnels, which ended at the classroom’s whiteboard. After exiting the final tunnel the student wrote the number they had been shown on the whiteboard.

It was Miss McCleaf’s first time incorporating the tunnels into her curriculum. “There were a few behavior quirks that occurred, but that was to be expected with something so new and different with five and six year olds,” she said.

Miss McCleaf and Mrs. Jones, the school’s physical therapist, had been brainstorming ways to incorporate more movement into the classroom. And the last week before Christmas break, with her students feeling especially restless, seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. And because the inaugural run occurred on a Tuesday, they named it Tunnel Tuesday. Miss McCleaf said incorporating the tunnels into the math series helped it go more smoothly, and because of its success she thinks she’ll continue using it. “This was a very quick and easy skill that was a review for most of them, but allowed this new activity to run smoothly,” said Miss McCleaf. “I could absolutely see incorporating other subject areas into Tunnel Tuesday. I could incorporate place value, addition and subtraction, or even some CVC words in Phonics.”

The activity was a big hit with her students too. “My students LOVED it! Anytime I bring in something fun and new to the classroom they enjoy it. I was a little nervous about a few students that don't like change so much, but they did some exploring as well.” In addition to helping the day’s math activity run more smoothly, Miss McCleaf thinks incorporating activities such as Tunnel Tuesday into her Kindergarten curriculum may also

Ivan Vanwinkle emerges from the first tunnel.

have some long-term, though harder to quantify, benefits for her students. “I use times likes these to build memories with my students, things they will remember that builds a stronger connection. Connections between students and teachers are necessary. If these bonds don't form, students aren't learning at their full potential.”