A local third-grade teacher is encouraging students on quarantine to stay active and use their brainpower by participating in exercises she created using a deck of cards.

The Guy-Perkins School District has sent various items to its students since school campuses were closed amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in hopes the children would use the gifts for school projects.

Emily Harris created a warm-up activity and coding exercise for her students using a deck of cards.

The school gifted district students a deck of cards this week so that students could use them in various classroom activities. The cards were distributed to those on the meal delivery list but are also available to others, Tammy Murry, the small-town district’s elementary principal, said in a weekly newsletter.

“This week, the teachers will be sending out math games to play cards with,” the newsletter reads in part. “Have fun with your child! Games are a great way to build critical thinking while making wonderful memories.”

Harris challenged her students to stay active and also use critical-thinking skills using the cards. The third-grade teacher said she has challenged her students daily to use the school gifts for math, science and other STEM-related projects.

While she typically shares daily challenges in her classroom’s private Facebook group, the third-grade teacher decided to share this particular activity with others.

“Homeschooling is even a challenge for licensed teachers! But, oh what a deck of cards can bring to the table,” she said.

The first portion of the exercise features a warm-up activity.

Cards equal their face value (Ace is 1 and so on) and each type of card represents a different exercise. In the example video Harris posted the hearts would mean the students would do jumping jacks; a diamond represented squats; drawing a card of Spades means having to run; and Clubs would mean students would hop.

The exercise is not limited to these tasks. Harris said she encouraged families to use exercises fitting their child’s interests.

“I chose these warm-ups, but you could easily do whatever warm-ups you wanted to do,” she said. “If you have a child who is in ballet or in gymnastics, maybe your warm-ups would be balancing on one foot or doing this many cartwheels or something like that. If yours is a big softball player, may it would be leading off the base so many times.”

To warm up for the coding exercise, Harris recommended parents select five cards and have the students perform whichever activity they got for however many seconds represented the number of the respective card. A student who selects a seven of Hearts would do jumping jacks for seven seconds.

The Guy-Perkins educator instructed her students to select 10 cards for the coding exercise.

During this portion of the weekly challenge, students should use markers (blocks, cups or other small, yet visible item) to mark each spot of the code they create.

By drawing a heart, students were told to walk forward however many steps were represented by the number on the card. They would turn right for a Spades card, turn left for a Clubs card and walk backward if they drew a diamond card.

Posting these challenges daily helps Harris stay connected with her students as they are forced to work from home for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

Her students’ families enjoy the interaction.

“My main goal during all of this is to stay connected with families,” she told the Log Cabin Democrat. “I didn’t know if they would enjoy the live videos or not, but I usually get two or three texts a day from parents asking if I am doing a live video that day. I usually have between six and eight get on during the live and then usually several more watch it later.”

The district is helping inspire her to create new challenges by providing students with various gifts during the shutdown, she said.

“Our school is providing the students with a resource each week and the teachers are encouraged to give activities that go with those materials,” Harris said. “Last week was eggs and play dough and this week is a deck of cards. So, each day I give them a challenge with the deck of cards and they send me photos or videos of them doing the challenge.”

The third-grade teacher said the school’s staff helps to encourage one another as they work to develop new tasks for their students.

Being able to work together as a team while also connecting families is something Harris said she is thankful for during this chaotic pandemic.

“All of us teachers usually throw ideas back-and-forth to try and keep students engaged,” she said. “My favorite part about it is that the parents have become so involved even though I know that homeschooling is not easy at all for them. I try to remind them constantly that they are doing an amazing job.”

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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