The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 8, 2013

January thaw allows for outdoor "brain breaks" during school

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

NORTH MANKATO — The mound, what was left of it, was fully occupied Monday afternoon.

Kate Hinz was one of about a dozen of Sue Scruggs’ second-graders at Monroe Elementary School in their snowpants and hats bombing around on top of the snow “hill,” which was only about 4 feet high and growing smaller as the sun got higher.

“This is awesome,” Hinz said, grabbing her friend Julia Olman’s hand as they somersaulted down the side of the mound.

Monday was the first day back to school in Mankato after winter break, and the children returned on a heckuva nice day. Temperatures rose to the mid 30s, causing the little snow we have to start to melt. It also caused the need for added playtime outside.

Scruggs said she brings her class outside about three days a week for a few minutes in the afternoon. They need the “brain break,” she said, and they love the snow.

“It turns them into different people. It really does,” Scruggs said.

In many previous Januarys it’s been common for temps to dip below -5 degrees, which is the threshold for which Monroe Principal Al Lawrence decides to keep the kids inside for recess.

But Monday was a nice sense of déjà vu on the playground, a reenactment of last winter’s balmy escape from the dead of winter. Not a bad day at all to come back to school after a couple of weeks off.

Lawrence was pumped about the warm temps and getting to see the kids play outside on the little snow hill.

“A 4-foot mound of snow is all we have,” Lawrence said, adding that the kids scramble on top of it like mice. “They’re just having a great time.”

Scenes like that will likely play out the rest of the week as temperatures stay in the 30s, he said.

“A day like today, and it seems the rest of the week too, if teachers can get outside for a few minutes, they try to,” Lawrence said.