From relay races to flamingo stands & tissue crawls

Alina and Jenna Theis do the ‘walk the plank’

During a distance learning lesson, Kathleen Messing asked each of her students what they were looking forward to most in third grade. Lucas Bly, one of Messing’s students, said his favorite day of the year was field day. 

Since schools closed their doors in March, yearly activities that students look forward to such as proms, graduations and even field days were postponed or canceled. Messing, a second grade teacher at South Elementary, saw that field day was important to several of her students and decided to find a way to make it happen. 

Alina Theis and her sister, Jenna, do the ‘flamingo standstill’

In the past, Messing had hosted “Minute to Win It”-themed holiday parties with her class, which she said her students really enjoyed. Since they couldn’t gather for a traditional field day, she decided to try a new approach. 

So she put together a document that explained the event with a picture of her daughter modeling how to complete each task. They included activities like “the tissue crawl,” where students had to blow a tissue across the room and back without using their hands. In the “flamingo standstill,” students posed, hands on hips and one foot raised, for 60 seconds. 

“I tried to be creative with the titles of the events and think of tasks using items all families have,” Messing said. 

A Day to Remember 

For Lucas, who enjoys playing soccer and basketball, the hardest part about completing field day tasks was trying not to laugh, he said. 

His mother, Lea, said watching Lucas’ reaction was the best part. 

“As a parent, I loved it. Social interaction is so important for our kids. This was a great opportunity for them to have some fun with their friends.” 

Lucas Bly participates in the ‘cookie face’ activity for virtual field day

Alina Theis participated with her little sister, Jenna, a kindergarten student at South Elementary. Involved in dance classes outside of school, Alina said she looks forward to field day every year. 

For Alina and Jenna’s mother, Jodie, this year’s field day was a welcome addition to the school year. 

“I think it helped make the kids feel more connected and involved with their school during this crazy time,” Theis said. “The kids are always very encouraging of each other, and even though this was a virtual field day this fact did not change.” 

Though Alina and Jenna both miss seeing their classmates in person, their mom said virtual field day helped. 

“Both Alina and Jenna are still talking about how much fun they had and the silly events that they had to do.”

For South Elementary principal Darla England, the activity was a tribute to the day that students look forward to each year.

“Field day is a huge event for students, and they wait all year to compete with their friends,” she said. “This is our version of how we still want to honor this tradition, but within the guidelines that we are all currently under.”

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Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio or email Hannah.

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