Tappan Hill Students Enjoying New Indoor Interactive Playground

Lu Interactive Playground at Tappan Hill

Children Moving More, Having Fun with New Tool in Gym

Southern Westchester BOCES’ Tappan Hill School received a new tool this year that gets children moving, helps with hand-eye coordination, requires them to think on their feet, and gets them excited about gym class.

It is the Lü interactive playground, which projects games onto the wall using a giant projector, 3D camera, and light and sound system. Tens of thousands of kids in 20 countries use the Lü technology each week, but Tappan Hill is the only school in the area that has it, according to school Principal Phyllis Rizzi.

There are many engaging games, such as Wak, which is similar to Whac-A-Mole. Bunnies continuously pop out of holes in the ground, and players hit the ones holding signs that match the color the game tells them to find. Students can bounce a ball against the wall or use another object, such as a foam paddle, to tap the bunnies.

Another game is Puzz, which divides a photo into a grid and mixes up the orientation of pieces. Users have to tap on each piece to turn it right-side up. They win when all the pieces are in the correct positions. With Danza, children imitate a figure wearing a straw hat as it dances around on the screen.

“They’re motivated to do this, and they’re really moving a lot more,” said Diane Storm, who teaches gym at Tappan Hill.

In a recent class, Ms. Storm started with a timed warm-up exercise. Students had to follow the directions on the screen, which started with run and changed to walk, gallop and then march as music played in the background.

Afterward, they played Zoo. In that game, they threw balls at the screen, revealing elephants, pigs, tigers and other animals. The creatures started out small and got bigger as players continued to hit the target.

“We’re going to throw balls at them, and then what happens?” Ms. Storm asked.

“They pop,” one student said.

They also played a few games of Puzz. “Nice job,” Ms. Storm said after one student playing got all nine squares in a castle photo in the right position.

“That really challenged him,” said Kathleen Knudsen, his classroom teacher.

Her students are doing things, like throwing and catching balls, that it was hard to get them to do before this new game system, Ms. Knudsen said. “There are less behavior problems and they’re more engaged,” she said.

In addition to movement and exercise, students are learning social skills, cause and effect, and other skills as they play Lü. The interactive playground also has math and word games on it.

The system also allows Ms. Storm to play videos on the internet. One that she likes is a “Move and Freeze” game. At the end of the class, she played Gaia, which leads students in breathing and relaxation exercises.

Lü captures the attention of all students, whether they are actively engaged in a game or on the sideline. “If they’re not playing, they’re watching,” Ms. Storm said. “They’re really watching.”

Ms. Storm speaks with classroom teachers to find out what kinds of subjects the children are studying and works to integrate that into physical education, Ms. Rizzi said. The teacher has been making copies of what different exercises look like, such as jumping jacks, so classroom teachers can help students learn to recognize them when they are in gym.

Lü has been a wonderful tool,” Ms. Rizzi said. “We’re the only one in the area that has it. I’m very proud of BOCES.”

Tappan Hill teachers have been providing feedback to the company about how they have adapted Lü games for the school’s special education students. For example, children who have trouble throwing balls can instead use a paddle to tap targets.

“They’re looking for input on how to better meet the needs of these kinds of kids,” Ms. Knudsen said.