Well, it’s starting to get to that time of year where indoor recess is going to be happening. I know that here in Seattle, the summer weather is definitely on its way out. Indoor recess is the worst. The students are so antsy from being inside and sitting all day, and you are antsy from being with students all day. So, it is so nice to be able to send them outside where they can get their energy out and you can take a breather (or cram in more work).
I am very familiar with indoor recess. I actually had to do indoor recess once a day, every day. That’s right. Every. Day. The 2nd grade team at my school got the short end of the stick when it came to the daily schedule last year. Recess for 2nd grade was scheduled less than an hour after school started, and it made it so that I couldn’t have a one-hour, uninterrupted chunk for a lesson for the whole day. So, instead of taking my students outside for this very early morning recess, we would do an indoor recess later in the morning. It wasn’t the most ideal, but I made it work so that I could teach math without having to stop in the middle to go outside for recess.
So, as you can imagine, I had to come up with quite a few ideas for indoor recess. Now, hopefully you don’t have indoor recess every day, but on the occasions that you do, here are some things that you can try. I’ve included quite a few games that I know many of you probably know how to play, but just in case you don’t, I have included a quick summary of the rules for them. If you know the rules, great! Just skip over that part.
1. Go Noodle: If you haven’t heard of Go Noodle before, check it out. It was a life saver for me. It has free, fun videos that get the kids up and moving. All you have to do is press play.
2. Dance Dance Revolution: There are plenty of kid-friendly videos of people playing Dance Dance Revolution online. Find videos where only the screen is shown (not the actual person dancing) and have your students follow along. The kids will actually think they are the ones playing!
3. Boggle Competition: Create a 4x4 grid of random letters on the whiteboard or project it on a screen (be sure to include vowels). Give each student a piece of paper. Set a timer for 3 minutes and see how many words the students can find in that amount of time. The words must be at least 3 letters long, and they have to make the words out of letters that are touching the letter that comes before it in the word. They can touch horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. For example, if they found "cat". The c has to touch the a and the a has to touch the t, but the t and the c don't have to touch. The person who finds the most words wins.
4. Puzzles: Keep a few different puzzles on hand. If you have an unexpected indoor recess, you can just pull them out. The kids love to work on them.
5. Board Games: Buy some used board games at a thrift store to let your students play. Just be sure to buy ones that are not too complicated or long, or take forever to set up.
6. Word Searches & Crosswords: Print out word searches and crosswords from online. Laminate them and have the kids use dry erase markers on them. Then, they can be used again and again.
7. Picture Searches: Have some I Spy books in your class or print out picture searches from online, laminate them and have your students write on them with dry erase markers.
8. Coloring Books: Buy cheap coloring books from the Dollar Store or the Target dollar spot. Rip out enough pages for each student to have one. Let quiet students come and choose a page first. Your class will be so well behaved!
9. Math Manipulatives: I know this sounds like a weird activity, but my students loved to play with the pattern blocks I had, and they actually made some really cool designs out of them! So, if you have some fun math manipulatives in your class, and you don’t mind your students playing with them, it can be a really easy indoor recess.
10. I Spy: Pick an object in your classroom, and say "I spy with my little eye something [insert adjective describing the object]. Then, have the students take turns guessing what it is. You can also let your students be it; they love to! Just be sure to limit the amount of guesses for each round, or it can keep going forever!
11. Telephone: Have the students sit in a circle and play a fun game of telephone. Come up with a sentence and whisper it into a student’s ear. Have them whisper the sentence to the next student, and continue this until the last student hears the sentence. See if the sentence is still the same by the time it gets to the last person. It can be pretty funny!
12. 20 Questions: This became one of my students’ favorite things to do during recess. Pick one student to be it. They have to think of a noun and then the rest of the class tries to guess what it is by asking up to 20 yes or no questions. Whoever guesses correctly is it.
13. 4 Corners: Number the corners of your classroom 1-4. Have one student close their eyes and count to 10 while the rest of the class walks to one of the corners. The student calls out one of the corner numbers. Whoever is in the corner is out and has to go back to their desk. The last student standing wins.
14. Heads Up 7 Up: Pick 7 students to be it. Say “Heads down, thumbs up.” Everyone else puts their heads down on their desks and sticks one of their thumbs up. The 7 students each tap one person’s thumb. Then, you say “Heads up, 7 up,” and the 7 students who had their thumb tapped stand and try to guess who tapped their thumb. If they guess correctly, they take that person’s spot as being it.
15. Simon Says: I love to do this activity because it gets the kids moving, which can be hard to do during indoor recess. Pick some one to be “Simon.” The students have to follow what they "Simon" says if they say “Simon says [insert action here.” If Simon does not say “Simon says” and the students do the action, those students have to sit down. For example, if Simon said, “Simon says jump in place,” then the students have to jump in place. But if Simon says, “Jump in place,” the students are not supposed to jump in place. The last person standing is the next “Simon.”
16. Charades: Write down people, animals, common actions, etc. on slips of paper, or if you want, you can even just whisper the things into the students’ ears if you don’t want to make the slips. Have one student act out whatever is on the paper without talking. The class has 1 minute to guess what they are doing. If they guess before the minute is up, they get a point. You can divide the students into teams and have them compete against each other if you like.
17. Trashketball: Buy a medium-sized, soft ball. Set an empty trashcan at the front of the class. Divide the class into 2 teams. Ask a person from each team a trivia question, or even a question related to something you have been learning in class. The first student to raise their hand and answer correctly gets to shoot the ball into the trash can. If they make it, they get a point. You can set up tape lines at varying distances from the trash can and award a different amount of points depending on how far they shot from to make it a little more interesting.
18. Drawing: Give the students blank paper and just let them draw. Simple, but fun.
19. Freeze Dancing: Put on some fun music and have the students start dancing. When the music stops, the students have to freeze in the pose they are in. If they move, they are out.
20. The Statue Game: Pick one student to be it. They say a person, animal, or object and the students have to become a statue of that. For example, the person who is it might say, “Grandma.” Then, the rest of the students make their best statue of a grandma. The person who is it, picks the best statue, and that students is then it.
I hope that this gave you some ideas of what you can do, so that when you hear the dreaded announcement over the intercom, you’ll be ready to keep your students entertained.
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.