10 Indoor Recess Ideas
Brrr! Too cold to be outside? Teachers share their favorite ways to blow off steam in the classroom.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
1. Shadow puppets. Dark and rainy days are perfect for shadow puppets. We use the overhead to make animals and stories on the walls with our hands. –Sue Pearson
2. Balloon volleyball. We break into two teams and sit on the floor facing each other. The object of the game is to not let the "volleyball" touch the ground. It's a blast! –Betty Smith Blanton
3. Break out the board games. My kids stay engaged with classic games like Candyland, checkers, chess, Operation, and Chutes and Ladders. –Melanie Bennett-Sump
4. Wax museum. For this game, I appoint one person as the "guard," and when his or her back is turned, students can move around and dance. Once the guard turns around, all of the students have to freeze. If the guard catches you moving, you're out. The game requires them to be relatively quiet, too! –Tawnya Gipson
5. Peaceful painting. Here in Kodiak, Alaska, it tends to be below 20 degrees or pouring rain. For indoor recess we do watercolor. We use baby food jars for water cups and put newspaper down. It keeps them active but calm the entire recess! –Suzan Hailey
6. Sneak in learning. We continue learning with word searches, quiet reading, puzzles, pattern making with math manipulatives, origami, and more. –Venus Cole
7. Indoor exercise. We watch 5-minute and 10-minute dance videos for kids. We get fun and fitness all in one! –Elizabeth Dumas Dawson
Meghan Witt from Bennett Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia, took her fifth-grade class to a local ropes course for some team- and trust-building fun. The following three activities could work in the classroom, too.
8. Welded ankles. Mark off beginning and end lines for the space across which students must travel. Have students assemble behind the start line and explain that the group must travel over the end line while maintaining continuous contact with one another's feet, as if they were "welded" together. If anyone in the group loses contact with his/her partner's foot, the entire group must start over.
9. Back to back. Ask students to find a partner of equal height and weight to face back to back and lock arms with. With arms remaining locked at all times, the partners should try to sit down on the ground, kick their legs out straight, and then try to stand back up. Try with groups of four, eight, sixteen, and, eventually, the whole class together.
10. Human knot. Break students into one or two tight circles. Each student should reach across the circle with his or her right hand to grab another group member's right hand. Students then reach in with their left hands to grab a different group member's left hand. The object is to untangle the group without letting go of hands until a complete circle is formed.