By Caroline Croker
For The Leader
Walk the plank, reach for the sun, follow the zig-zag line, bark like a dog, hopscotch, spin around and run like the wind! Chalk obstacle courses have recently been a hit around the Houston area for families to enjoy and escape the confinement of their homes for some sunshine and smiles during this seemingly never-ending stay-at-home order.
A local preschool decided to take this concept to a new level.
Johnson Memorial School (JMS) in Oak Forest was founded in 1967 to honor fallen Vietnam War soldier Robert Johnson. It is currently teaching preschoolers remotely with fun videos created by teachers. On Tuesday, April 14, JMS Director Candice Croker and her kids decided to share a little extra love with the JMS preschoolers, their families and the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest community.
They created an engaging chalk obstacle course inspired by a Facebook post by Biz Loeschman, who created her own course in her Garden Oaks driveway. The Croker family spent hours (and multiple boxes of chalk!) drawing an elaborate course for children to run through, stretching the full length of the parking lot in front of the school. JMS teachers encouraged students to share pictures and videos of themselves at the parking lot enjoying the new two-dimensional playground.
“Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter on all the videos we’ve received has meant so much to our staff; we miss being able to enjoy this great spring weather together, so this was the next-best thing under these tough circumstances,” Croker said.
The course included a “plank” surrounded by water to cross, a sun in which the kids reach for the sky and hopscotch squares. As an educator, Croker also wanted to incorporate educational aspects, so they added circles with a different letter of the alphabet in each and the children had to hop from circle to circle in alphabetical order.
Another obstacle had squares with a body part written inside. When the students stepped into the square, they were instructed to locate the body part listed. A few hours after the Croker family drew the first portion of the course, teacher Dawn Butterwick and her daughter Sierra (a JMS alumna who’s at home e-learning from Texas A&M Galveston) added to the course by creating parallel obstacles with a space theme that included an activity to complete on each planet.
“I felt it was incredible. I miss my school,” said Frankie Brezina, age 4.
JMS student William Linder, age 5, added: “I liked the solar system one because it was out of this world.”
The JMS staff plans to create another obstacle course at 2003 W. 43rd St. in early May and encourages all community members to check it out, or make your own at home by researching creative ideas online! After all, there’s no limit to the fun until you run out of chalk.
Caroline Croker is the 13-year-old daughter of Candice Croker, the director at Johnson Memorial School, located at 2003 W. 43rd St.