Gift of Time Gives Students Lessons in Life Skills

“Everyone is so busy and has a lot on their plates and they just need time during this holiday season,” said Michalski. “I thought, what better gift than time. I offered to have other classes come down to my room for 30 minutes to learn a new card game and play with my students.”

Students enter the classroom and are immediately greeted by a friendly fifth-grader ready to make a new friend and teach them the game. Most have never met before – other than possibly passing in the hallways at some point during the school day. But as they pair up, the students quickly develop a relationship.  

“Having the other classes come in teaches my kids how to be good hosts and have good sportsmanship while they teach the game. It’s so much fun to watch them teaching someone else and watching them let others win as they learn the game. My kids are also learning about being selfless and letting others feel good about themselves,” she said.

The offer was made to all fourth and fifth grade teachers in the school but Michalski said she thinks the fourth-graders especially like getting to come down to the fifth-grade room.

“It just brings me a lot of joy to do this for the other teachers and for the kids. My kids are loving this and really learning so much,” she said. “It’s fun to watch them interact.”

Fifth-grader Manuel Lopez Tapia said he definitely felt like he made a new friend. “He’s new to the school and doesn’t speak English. So I’m glad I can help him out because I speak Spanish and I can teach him the game,” said Lopez Tapia. “Everyone should have a chance to play and he should be able to play with someone he can talk to. I’m glad I can do that for him. Maybe I can help him other times too.”

Kylie Zolinski wasn’t shy about offering hints to her opponent Anika Slomp as they played the card game Speed. “I think it’s fun and she learns really fast,” said Zolinski.

“All these kids get to come to our classroom and play with us. I have a lot of new friends now,” said fifth-grader Patrick Ybema as he wrapped up a game with Wyatt Donker.  Ybema said he’ll definitely be able to say “hi” if he sees Ybema in the halls, at recess or at lunch.

The 30 minutes goes by fast, Michalski said, and before they know it the new friends are waving goodbye and heading back to their own classrooms. “I couldn’t be more proud of you guys,” Michalski tells her students. “You did so well introducing yourselves to your partners, teaching them how to play and being good hosts and good friends to them.”