When we have bad weather, I put on an exercise DVD. The students just love doing them! Some of the ones I have used include: Denise Austin's Fit Kids, the I Can Do Yoga series, and Fun Classroom Fitness Routine. I am sure there are tons more out there. This way, the kids are still getting the exercise and movement they need while also having fun in the classroom!
When the weather is bad and the students stay inside, I try to find games that help them stay active and burn energy. Their favorite happens to be "Freeze Dance", where I play music and when it stops they must freeze. Other games include "Heads Up 7 Up", "Musical Chairs", "Hot Potato", "Pepper Pass", and many more.
They are always whole group games to encourage them to work together, play together, and build friendships. It is a joy to watch them work as a group and have fun!
When the weather is too cold, too hot, or just plain nasty out, I let my kids have Freecess. "Freecess" is the name I gave our recess time, and the children are "free" to choose their own activity.
I set up five stations in the room. At one station, I have math games, flash cards, and play money. At the second station I set up board games like chess or checkers. File folder games are station #3, and station #4 is for science tools (balance, graduated cylinder, microscopes, etc). The 5th station is always reserved for AR reading and testing time.
Students can go to any station of their choice, and they are responsible for noise levels and clean up. If they abuse the privilege, then activity at that station is taken away. This would work with any number of stations, but giving it a name like "freecess" allows your students to share in their daily choices.
I know my students need to move, get a little cardiovascular activity, and smile. My solution to being cooped up is video exercises. I found some fun 5-6 minute fitness videos for kids on a popular video posting website. We all, yes, me too, workout together and have fun. I change them by adding my own activities (like counting by 3's backward, saying our spelling words, or toss the math fact ball around).
My other favorite kinesthetic fun time is to use my PS2 machine with the DDRMax video on aerobics mode. You don't need dance pads, just have students stand behind their desks or in an open area and keep moving. I love to do this with my students, by the end of 15 minutes we are all laughing, smiling, and having a terrific day.
Get moving and have fun with your class — even if it's nice outside!
The Rainy Day Box
This is an idea I used at home with my own children, and decided to try it at school. It worked out great! The Rainy Day Box is a box (mine is cardboard bank box, but it could be a plastic tub or any other medium-size container) that contains materials and activities that can be only used when it is rainy outside. So it becomes sort of a "special" box with activities the students don't normally get to do in class. This makes recess special because the kids get to pick activities they enjoy. Some students even start to look eager with hope when it gets cloudy outside! I decorate my box, to make it seem "extra special". The box contains art materials and travel games.
Art material ideas: sticky foamies, construction paper, stamps, stickers, markers with fruity smells, glitter crayons. Usually I can find small art projects like paint by numbers at the local arts and crafts stores and/or $1 stores. Throw in something different than the same crayons and markers on white paper they might use everyday. This could include activity or coloring books — mazes, word finds, crosswords, etc. Try to find books with characters you know students in your class like, depending on their age.
Travel game ideas: There are sets of mini versions of Monopoly, Battlefield, Sorry, etc. that up to four people can play. I found mine at Barnes & Noble, but I know other stores have travel games, too. The beauty of these games is each only takes about 20 minutes to play! That's about the same length of time as recess. This means not having to stop the game half way through.
Also, don't forget to ask parents for donations. There might be an old game or puzzle that is not being used anymore that would work in the Rainy Day Box. After every use, I try to go through the box and trade out some activities, so the next time it seems "fresh" and the kids won't get bored with it. Enjoy!