Are you looking for easy and engaging ideas for indoor recess? Well look no further!
Unfortunately, sometimes we just can’t go outside for recess. It could be bad weather, playground construction, or something that has disrupted your schedule. Indoor recess can be two dreaded words that might leave you a tad bit stressed trying to figure out what to do with 25+ SUPER energetic kids that clearly need some fresh air. But I want you to fear those words no more! After reading this, your teacher toolbox will be FULL of fun, engaging, and the best part, EASY ideas for any indoor recess day you have. Here’s my eight tips and tricks!
#1: Go Online
There are so many awesome FREE websites that can help turn your indoor recess into a fun time for your students, while freeing you up to still be productive! We love using Go Noodle because there’s a ton of resources to last long enough for students to enjoy their break. They even have specific videos for indoor recess under their activities and routines tab so your searching time is lessened! They are so engaging and students love them.
Another awesome website is Storyline Online. If you haven’t tried this one out, I HIGHLY recommend it! They have so many adorable read-alouds from some celebrated actors the students may already know!
#2: Get Creative!
Have you made creative kits before? It’s as simple as adding THESE labels to THESE pencil boxes and letting students get creative with what you put inside! Some of my favorite creative tools for students to use are legos, play doh, pattern block, tens rods, and hashtag blocks. These are all inexpensive options that allow students to get designing and building. You can use THESE Slides to set up expectations for these creative kits and allow students to choose which tool to work with, while having some fun.
Another simple way to get the creative juices flowing and keep kids entertained while indoors is by providing notebooks and special markers, like ones that smell awesome! Students can grab a notebook and get to drawing. Want to add another level for them? Check out THESE directed draw videos that students will love to follow along with!
#3: We Like To Move It, Move It!
The best thing about recess is that it is the ultimate movement break. With it moving indoors, you can still get students up and moving during this time! There are so many ways you can allow students to have fun and get some wiggles out!
Check out some of my favorites below:
Freeze Dance – This is such a simple and fun activity. You can choose music of your own or you can specifically search ‘freeze dance’ Youtube videos. Play your songs and practice being frozen popsicles during this game! Let students dance their little hearts out when they hear music and they’ll stop as soon as it’s paused. Keep playing for as long as time allows!
Simon Says – This is a classic game for kids. It’s as simple as telling them what to do and making sure they only do it when Simon says. Have them do jumping jacks, run in place, or even jog around the room!
Dance Party – Who doesn’t LOVE a dance party?! With Just Dance Youtube, students will love following along to the dance moves for their favorite songs!
Four Corners – This activity is great to get students moving around, while also working on social skills. The four corners of your classroom each correlate with an answer choice to your question. You can make it as silly or academic as you like. Check out some fun prompts in THIS editable resource!
Addition Movement Slides – Want to build in some movement while practicing important math skills? Use THESE slides as an easy indoor recess activity or during whole group instruction!
Heads Up, 7 Up – Do you remember this classroom classic? Choose seven students to stand at the front of the class, while the rest of the students put their heads down on the desk. Remind them that there is no peeking! The seven students walk around quietly and tap the shoulder of a student they want to replace them as one of the seven. With their heads still down, if students feel a tap, they will put their thumb up on the desk. Once all the students have chosen a classmate and are lined back up at the front, they say, “heads up seven up.” Students with a thumb up, stand up and take a chance at guessing who chose them. If they guessed correctly, they get to switch places!
Silent Ball – For this activity, students sit or stand in a circle. They will toss the ball to someone in the circle, but they must do so SILENTLY. If someone drops the ball, makes a bad pass, or talks, they are out for that round. Keep playing until there is only one player left!
Would You Rather – Would you rather is ALWAYS a hit with students! They love to share and learn about each other’s likes and dislikes. It’s also another great way to get students up and moving during an indoor recess day. To help get some energy out, you can have them sit, stand, or go to a specific side of the room for their choice to communicate their answer. It’s an easy, fun, and safe way to reconnect together to be able to be silly doing it. Check out THIS Would You Rather pack that students will have a blast with! Editable slides are included to add your own engaging prompts for students.
Charades – Here’s a twist on the charades game we all know and love! This one is school themed and the kids get to learn how to work together! You can divide the class into two large groups or split them into three or more smaller groups of students depending on how you’d like to play. Provide the picture/word cards for students to act out, while the other students in the group have to try and guess the answer. This is a great way for students to get to understand each other, problem solve, and improve verbal and nonverbal communication! You can have students play until each team has a certain number of points or simply set a time limit. If you love this idea you can grab it FREE after subscribing!
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#4: Fight the BOREDom
Board games beat boredom! Do you have some old ones lying around not being played? Indoor recess is a great time to bust those and let kids play. Board games allow students to practice so many important skills, such as following directions, being a good sport, and overall social skills. Of course there’s the added bonus of FUN! Bingo, puzzles, card games, just to name a few are ones that students love and can play independently. Here’s an added tip: if you need ideas on where to find board games, I love hunting garage sales or thrift stores, and even Five Below has some several awesome options! You can also pick up some puzzles from the dollar store.
#5: Organized Your Fun
ALL of these ideas are great and can set your students up for a lot of fun. What’s NOT fun is trying to remember all the options you have when you unexpectedly can’t go outside. Set everyone up for success using THESE labels to organize your tools and games! You can affix them to Michael’s Scrapbook Cases or you can even create your own Indoor Recess Cart full of all the different resources. Check an example below!
#6: When In Doubt, Print It Out!
Sometimes all you need to the rescue is a few easy printables. It’s a quick and quiet activity that can help students relax and have a good time. Check out these no prep printables that allow students to engage in activities such as a solve and color picture and an eye spy game. Your students will stay engaged and practice skills in a simple, yet fun way!
#7: Provide Choice
Here’s a hack that should probably be number one! One of my favorite things to do is provide choices to students. Give THEM the freedom to choose what they want to do during indoor recess. It might sound crazy, but you can leave yourself out of it and let them explore. Maybe some students really want to pull up Just Dance videos, whereas others may want to work on puzzles. Teach them their expectations… and let them go! Which brings me to the final tip…
#8: Set Expectations
Indoor recess can be really nerve wracking when we don’t have the activities we need OR we don’t have our expectations explicitly laid out. If one of those is missing, this time can seem really overwhelming.
Help students learn how to choose an activity with the expectations you want in place. Do you want them to only utilize puzzles in a specific area of the room? Show them. Are your dance video folks limited to a specific amount of songs before someone else gets to pick? Tell them. Take a look at the editable slides below to see how I walk through setting expectations during this time. If you want to learn more about how I teach procedures to students, be sure to check out THIS post!
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I hope you enjoyed learning all about how to make indoor recess enjoyable for students and more importantly, YOU. These are CRUCIAL life skills for students! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Charades FREEBIE! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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