Unlocking the mind by playing a game or two

Math/ELA Night fun for Bayville Primary kids and parents


Adam Nagy, 8, gripped a black magic marker, his other hand engaged in managing his mop of curly red hair. He wanted to find a space on the large sheet of paper hanging on the wall to add to an ongoing story written by other children. Asked if he liked to write, he said adamantly that he did not.

But the Bayville Intermediate third-grader couldn’t stop writing at the Family Math/ELA Night at Bayville Primary on Jan. 10. Laughing, he shared his “cool” story, one that included a villain named Dr. Grain who had the ability to “switch regular students” into robots.

The purpose of the evening, said Dorothy McManus, Bayville Primary’s assistant principal, was for parents to spend time with their children, playing games that represent what is being taught in school.

“We get requests from parents asking what they can do at home with reading and math,” said McManus, who is also the kindergarten through fifth grade ELA coordinator for the district. “These are fun activities parents can take home and play with the children to help build on their fluency, for example.”

The evening is popular, McManus said, with 40 to 50 people participating last year. She expected as many or more this year. And middle school and high school students from the National Honor Society would be returning to introduce the games to the children and parents.

“The biggest requirement here is to play with a parent, not with another child,” McManus said.

Abigail Maselli, 11, a student at Locust Valley Middle School, helped children and their parents play a game that included spinning a colorful dial. The purpose was to help children improve their spelling. “The kids really liked the game,” said Abigail, who added that she was glad she came.

Gianna Calonita, wearing her favorite headband, which featured cat ears, came with her father, Ricky. “I like math,” said the 7-year-old. “And I like that there are a lot of tricky problems here to solve. But my best subject is reading.”

At a nearby table, Rachel Scherer, a special education teacher at Bayville Intermediate, was in charge of a game that included the rolling of colorful yellow dice. Participants were challenged to add or subtract the dots on the dice.

Celine Geiger accompanied her daughter, Maeve, who is 5. The kindergartner was fascinated by the dice game. “We’re lucky she has a love for learning,” Celine said. “Maeve likes all of the math games, which is good. We need more women in engineering.”

The family plays board games at home together, Celine said, and now would be able to add the game with the dice to their nightly ritual.

Tommy Papadopoulos, 15, a member of the National Honor Society, said he loved science, but was happy to be in charge of a math game. He was teaching children and their parents how to play a game that involved using colorful foam blocks to mimic configurations on a picture. “Some of these are really hard, but the kids don’t get frustrated,” Tommy said. “If they can’t do it, they just try another one. A couple of times they even tricked me.”

Tommy saw the evening as mutually beneficial. “I’m a big-people person, and like to help others,” he said. “I’m getting an opportunity here to help the kids, and teach them how to have fun.”