My name is Sheila McCoy, I teach K/1 (looping) at the Bernice A. Ray School in Hanover, NH. I began using the Peekapak program in the spring of 2016.
Our school works hard to empower children to be positive role models, to develop strong social relationships through communication, and to help them understand that actions have consequences. Understanding how one’s words and actions affect relationships are key to social-emotional learning and help students foster positive relationships.
How I use Peekapak:
The Peekapak program correlates with the 3Rs used at our school: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility. By using Peekpak’s stories and activities, I was able to enhance the school’s current program. I paired the Peekapak program with Michelle Winner Garcia’s Social Thinking language to help foster the 3 Rs.
My students were engrossed in the stories from the start! They liked to hear each story more than once and they all participated in the class discussions. The follow-up activities enhanced the stories and I turned some of the activities into sorting activities. For example, in one activity my class brainstormed character traits for the different characters. I typed up student suggestions and had the children sort them to match the characters. I also used charades and role-playing to practice the skill the story focused on (we were studying the Teamwork unit). My students began saying things like “What would Sebastian do?” or “Remember we have to work together.” We talked about “‘Me thinking’ versus ‘we thinking’.”
Peekapak’s lasting impact:
The Peekapak program has had a positive impact on my students. They were especially excited when we wrote a letter to one of the characters and received a reply. Parents also enjoyed using the “home” activities that support the lessons.
One important observation I made is that my students actually remember the stories and skills taught and continue to use the skills they learned from previous units. I have a looping class, which means that my kindergarten students advance into my grade one class, so my kinders had gone through the Peekapak program last year. Just before this Thanksgiving, my class was having trouble with a math problem and kept arguing with each other. One of my students suddenly stopped and said: “Wait, we need to work together like the Peekapak Pals!” I had some new students who didn’t know what the child was talking about so we stopped and the children shared who the Peekapak Pals were and how they learned to work together to build a robot. I was amazed that my students remembered the specifics of a story read last school year. I can see that the Peekapak program most definitely had a positive impact on my students.
Due to time constraints, I could not complete every single activity in the Peekapak program and I also modified some of them, but the overall impact was hugely successful. My tip for teachers new to this program: Don’t feel that you need to complete every lesson. Choose the ones that are right for your class, and add more role-play and charades to help students engage. Using a program such as Peekapak allows young children to see beyond themselves, to develop the skills needed to support one another, and to build their self-esteem. I highly recommend the Peekapak program.
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Ami Shah is a Co-Founder & CEO of Peekapak, an edtech startup that teaches social-emotional learning skills like self-regulation, empathy and team work in the class and home. Peekapak is backed by; Silicon Valley based accelerator, Imagine K12, the Edtech vertical of Y Combinator and; the Unreasonable Institute.