Caliente Elementary recently participated for the first time in Global School Play Day. After discovering the program, which promotes unstructured play, MaCall Barnes spearheaded it at the school.

Peter Gray, a researcher who studies play, notes that play is nature’s way to ensure that children acquire the skills they need to develop into adulthood. A few guidelines for Global School Play Day are: no screens, no structure, students bring the toys, no batteries, and no electricity. Don’t organize, and don’t tell them how to play.

Some of the fun included kids setting up a McDonald’s, complete with the kitchen (Gordon Ramsay-style), tables, and a cashier taking (play) money.

In one class, a budding artist had drawings that she had worked on. In another room, there was a reading nook. The kids in each class were all playing together, laughing. There were no arguments, no one feeling left out. It felt like a close-knit family atmosphere.

The teachers said that this showed them another side to the kids and to themselves, giving the teachers things they may be able to incorporate to help students learn.