Linda Thomas is taking on a unique challenge in her final year of teaching before retirement.
A third grade teacher at Hillcrest Public School in Petrolia, Ontario, Thomas also happens to be an avid curler, playing in several weekly leagues with her family and has been involved in many youth curling programs over the years. This year, she’ll be capping it off by introducing the sport to six different classes from her school.
The idea has been a few years in the making, starting with introducing curling to students in the school gym. A few years ago, while browsing the items available in a local fundraising bonspiel’s silent auction, Thomas noticed a FloorCurl Starter Set up for grabs. She placed her bid, and when the auction closed, she was the winner.
“I had seen the FloorCurl equipment before and knew it would be an awesome way to introduce my class to the sport by bringing it into the school gym,” said Thomas. “They had a blast. I taught them how the scoring worked, and we played games and made our own scoreboards. It’s challenging to organize getting kids on the ice, but bringing equipment into our gym was so simple and the kids loved it.” The curling unit became a regular fixture in her class curriculum with a focus on associating the sport of curling with fun and excitement.
Thomas even found a way to keep the curling fun going throughout the course of the recent pandemic despite classes not being able to share equipment in the gym with other students. “I found the free Egg Farmers Rocks & Rings [In The Classroom] resources online and we used them to learn about curling right in our classroom. All the kids got familiar with curling terms and it kept them excited about one day trying the sport themselves.”
The 2022-23 school year will mark Thomas’ last year of teaching before retirement. In previous years, she didn’t have the opportunity to tackle the logistics of transitioning the students to curling on ice. This year, she decided the time to take on the challenge was now or never.
“I wanted to make sure my class got the opportunity to experience curling on ice before I moved on from teaching,” she said. “When I taught Kindergarten, they were just a bit too young to take to the curling club, but now that I have older students and some help from volunteers and cooperation from the curling club, I knew we could make it work.”
Thomas set to work on planning a series of field trips that would see not just her class, but five other classes from her school, visit the Sarnia Golf & Curling Club for an afternoon of fun and instruction. Five Friday afternoons were scheduled to give each of the various classes (around 45 kids each week ranging from Grades 3 through 8) an opportunity to visit the rink. Thomas prepped each class with a morning of FloorCurl lessons in the school gym during the week of their scheduled field trip, providing a crash course in scoring, delivery, sweeping, and the basic rules.
“The excitement the gym sessions created leading up to it was huge,” said Thomas, and with two weeks of field trips under their belts she says the feedback has been fantastic. “One little guy was so excited to try it that he insisted his Dad join us as a volunteer chaperone so that he could see how great it was and hopefully sign him up for curling next year. I’ve already heard so many of the kids talk about how much fun they had and how badly they want to play again soon.”
The visits to the rink begin with a safety lesson and a quick recap of what was learned in the gym before students are brought onto the ice to try out all the basics – sliding, delivering a stone, and sweeping. “We just want them to have fun and experience it,” said Thomas. “And if they get the hang of it fairly quickly, then we introduce some game play or actual shot making. The main thing is to make sure they have a blast because we want to nurture that interest in curling.” Feedback from the students so far indicates that goal has been reached. One student remarked that she really enjoys curling because “It’s so easy to learn. I like pushing the rocks down the ice!”
Thomas hopes that this will be the first of many regular school visits to the curling club even after she retires. “I love it and my kids love it. I just think it’s such a great sport to get kids involved in at a young age. That’s the end goal here.”
To learn more about Egg Farmers Rocks & Rings presented by Curling Canada programs, click here. To learn more about purchasing your own FloorCurl equipment (the official iceless curling equipment of Rocks & Rings), click here. As always, a huge thanks to our generous sponsors & partners for the major part they play in making all this possible.
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