HARRISON — Educators have spent the last two years searching for ways to apply outside experiences to classroom learning. Students at Harrison Elementary School already participated in Maine’s WinterKids program, which seeks to help children develop lifelong outdoor habits through outdoor activities. Following the pandemic, the school is all in.

Harrison students are just wrapping up participation in WinterKids month-long Winter Games, which began Jan. 17. Students competed in a series of outdoor physical activity and nutrition challenges designed to help them be active in the winter and learn healthy habits. This year’s WinterKids Winter Games theme was the Winter Olympic Games.

Students from Harrison Elementary School line up for prizes earned during WinterKids 2022 Winter Games. Supplied photo

“Schools applied for entry into the Winter Games, in hopes of earning the top prize – $10,000,” said Harrison STEM teacher Rob Ripley. “All elementary schools in Maine’s 16 counties were eligible to participate. This year, 22 schools competed, with 3,805 children and over 900 teachers. All the schools competing in the WinterKids Winter Games received a toolkit with resources and incentives to help students earn points.

“Included in the toolkit was a brand new WinterKids Learn Outside Guide – an easy to use resource to help kids move, learn, and explore outdoors while meeting education standards.”

Each week programming focused on different aspects of good habits: physical activity, nutrition and family engagement. According to Ripley, it’s not just fun and games.

Schools are competing to earn activity points for cash prizes, $10,000 to the “gold medal” winner, $7,500 for silver and $5,000 for bronze. The remaining 19 will receive cash awards based on their final placement, with a total of $50,000 spread through all 22 schools.


“One thing we always appreciate about WinterKids is that it reminds us to get outside and enjoy the winter weather that we have here in Maine,” Ripley said in an email statement. “The activities guide us in a variety of fun learning experiences that encourage staff and students to be creative and use the natural world around us.

“We take the competition seriously, and that inspires us to do better each year! We love that WinterKids brings the fun into our learning, all while building community both in the building and with home. We strive to #GoForTheGold.”



Comments are not available on this story.