Old-fashioned games help Cullman Primary School earn ‘School of Distinction’ honor


Old-fashioned games helped Cullman City Primary School earn the "School of Distinction" honor. / Cullman Primary School

CULLMAN – On Monday, Cullman City Primary School (CCPS) was recognized as a School of Distinction by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) at an awards luncheon in Prattville.  The reason was profoundly simple: its students enjoy playing games.

CCPS Principal Tricia Culpepper explained, “This is our second year of doing board games, and what we were targeting was we wanted to increase our students’ speaking skills and sportsmanship skills in the classroom.  Our PTO provided us with funding, and I had a group of teachers from kindergarten and one from first grade, and they chose appropriate board games to play.  And then, once a month, we invite the parents to come in, and grandparents, and they come in and play the board games with the students.  And we’ve seen a big increase in our students’ ability to communicate, and to take turns.

Said Culpepper, “One of our teachers here is getting her doctorate in curriculum and instruction at (the University of) Alabama, so she actually did a survey for us and wrote a paper about it, and so she presented that at Alabama about our board games.  So now, we not only have our kindergarten and first grade doing it, but we also have our Head Start, our 3- and 4-year-old classes playing the games as well.  They have more age-appropriate games than our k and one games have.”

In an age in which everything seems to occur on a screen to which some young person’s face is glued, CCPS went (literally!) old-school, choosing classic tabletop favorites like Connect Four, Uno, Sorry!, Perfection and Trouble, along with some more modern selections like Quick Cups.  Yes, the kids are spending school time playing games, but they are also developing social skills.

Culpepper continued, “And the neat thing is, we have parents that have contacted us because the children came home at Christmas, and that’s what they wanted to play, and those are the games that they wanted for Christmas gifts . . . It’s a really good family connection piece, because you can get the kids to play it here, and they can go home and play it with their family.

“Our teachers have done a great job of incorporating this.  Teachers have a lot on their plates these days, and so I really appreciate what they’ve done into their weekly, their monthly schedule.  And they have really worked hard to make sure the children know the games.  It took a while, especially for the kindergarten; they introduced a game a week.  And so, I really appreciate what they’ve done, because they’re the ones that are actually doing the games in the classrooms; we always appreciate what they’re doing for us.

“I have a great group of teachers here that really work.  What is so wonderful about our school is we are able to target this specific age.  The youngest learners that come in are 3 years old, so we really are experts in instruction from ages 3 to 8, and our teachers work in every area: physically, mentally, emotionally.  And so these board games really can help across the board with our students, with verbal skills or cognitive skills, and I just am really happy with the fact that our teachers just take it to heart, and work to implement these games in the classroom.”

CCPS was one of only 24 schools selected statewide for the CLAS School of Distinction award.

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