Inquiring minds want to know…did we get our Zamz? That’s what the students in St. John’s kindergarten and first grade class wonder after every recess and activity break! Our Zamzee is a very important part of our daily routine, but how did that come about?
I am, yes, the kindergarten and first grade teacher at St. John Nepomucene School in Weston, Nebraska. I am also one of the program advisers for the Fuel Up to Play 60 program at our school.
I learned about Zamzee at the Fuel Up to Play 60 national summit last July. Each of the students and advisers attending received one as a gift. The students were convinced immediately as to how valuable and exciting a Zamzee could be. They found a computer, checked out the site, and were moving and racking up points quickly! “We can get prizes by just moving,” they said. I didn’t know how that could be true. I must say, I didn’t grasp the potential of this meter until I got it home and began using it myself. Then, I was hooked!
I started thinking about how I could use Zamzee with my students, and decided to include Zamzee as one of the jobs posted on our job chart. I called it being the “Zamzee Leader.” You know…we have a line leader, calendar helper, clean up crew helpers…and a Zamzee leader. The Zamzee leader is responsible for helping to choose a Challenge, taking the meter out for recesses, and doing his best to make sure the meter keeps moving. The leader can pass the meter off to a friend if he wants, but needs to bring it back to plug in after recess. Our Zamzee has been part of football games, tag around the jungle gym, swinging with friends, and leaf pile jumping! It’s even been lost beneath a leaf pile over night!
The students love being the Zamzee Leader! When I asked them why, the replies were numerous!
“You get to exercise, be healthy, and earn things,” said a first grader.
“It helps you run and get faster,” said a kindergartner.
Both of those responses told me that the students understand that the Zamzee is a motivator to improve our health by encouraging activity…and yes, it may even help us to get a little “faster”.
“Every Friday the Zamzee Leader can eat with a friend at the cool Fuel Up to Play 60 table,” boasted one proud leader.
The students also shared other thoughts about having a Zamzee in the classroom. “It’s fun to choose your Whamz and to pick your own prize,” and “You get Zamz and Pointz and then you can buy things,” exclaimed classmates. When we accumulate Zamz we decide as a class what could be purchased for our classroom or playground that would be of benefit to us all. During our cold, Nebraska winter we bought some beautiful, rainbow-colored basketballs to help keep us active during our indoor recesses. Earlier in the year we had purchased a marble run to help us understand science as we were learning about motion and gravity. Very soon we’ll be receiving a package with a Kindle Fire HD! Once we had $100 earned with Zamz the school matched that to add the new technology to our classroom! We can’t wait!
“Don’t forget about how fun it is to choose your Whamz!” I was reminded by a persistent young student. We don’t choose Whamz very often, but it’s an important event involving much discussion and voting! The students enjoyed designing their avatar and like the “free” items when they’re on special!
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our classroom Zamzee this year! The students are excited about helping to earn things for the classroom, but even more important is the fact that they realize how important it is to take advantage of the recess time and activity breaks they have to improve their own health! We hope others will include Zamzee in their classrooms! Maybe we’ll read your Whamz someday!