The raindrops beat against the window as if they were almost taunting me…another day of indoor recess. Would I survive? It was, quite honestly, questionable. We hadn’t been outside in over a week, and today was not going to be our day. Days upon days of wiggly students nearly bouncing off the walls from staying inside had my nerves almost fried. Free time was no longer an option. After days of doing art, talking to friends, and playing around, the volume had reached epic proportions. At that moment, I decided to try something different. Today I am going to share a few of my favorite activities that work perfectly on those indoor recess days.
If you’ve ever barely survived the chaos that is indoor recess, I know you’ll love what happens when you try out these ideas. I would literally never go back to my old indoor recess habits again. Here are my four favorite indoor recess options that totally transformed how I feel about staying inside on a rainy day.
Indoor Recess Option 1: Go Noodle
If you read any other blogs, I am sure you’ve heard of it by now…or even if you just read mine, considering I mentioned it in my Tech Tools post. Go Noodle allows your students to be active. They can dance, do yoga, or even learn and practice silly handshakes. For every activity they do as a group, they earn credits toward making their funny little character grow and change. Despite my initial worries that the kids wouldn’t find that motivating, every time we had a spare moment I was being asked if we could Go Noodle! The kids happily spent all of our indoor recess Go Noodling and earning credits. (Of course, I also picked longer activities for indoor recess so they didn’t earn too many credits. It is a super fun way to keep your kids active, even when you are stuck indoors.
Indoor Recess Option 2: STEM Challenges
Instead of the free for all that resulted in wild chaos, I started giving my kid’s team challenges during recess. I’d give them 15 minutes (in other words, nearly all of our allotted recess time) to build the tallest structure using only 10 index cards, for example. They had a great time working in teams (of their choice, unless a problem arose) and their minds were busy building social and cognitive skills. I could set a timer, and the last five minutes we would go around to inspect our work. It led to some great discussions. Sometimes I even had them write a short reflection for a social studies or science grade (depending on the challenge and the focus of the reflection). It truly found me more time in the day!
Indoor Recess Option 3: Group Games
When I was a child, I spent many a recess playing Heads Up, 7Up and musical chairs. However, when I mentioned these games the majority of my students looked at me as if I had grown an extra head. Easy to do, and fun for the kids, group games can be a great way to make recess fun. Plus, games like musical chairs give your students a chance to move, and you can be the DJ. A little word of advice, be sure to lay out clear expectations for behavior in advance. Another fan favorite is Balloon Volleyball. Push the desks out of the way, split into two teams, and let the fun begin. All you need is a balloon, and I can guarantee that someone on your campus has one hiding in a closet!
Indoor Recess Option 4: Partner (or Small Group) Learning Games
This idea ends up with a little more chaos than some of the previous ones. However, the kids love to play games during indoor recess. Make the most of this time by making them learning games. I loved to use my Addition Gotcha or Multiplication Gotcha (think Uno). The kids knew how to play the original so I didn’t have to give too much instruction, and the kids were practicing their math facts! A match made in heaven. I also have a great set of partner games I got from Lakeshore Learning some years ago (a little expensive at first, but I’ve used them for over 5 years now and they are in great condition). They make a great indoor recess activity.
What suggestions do you have to make indoor recess less of a free-for-all?