Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tips for Taming the Wild Indoor Recess!

With all of the bad weather recently many teachers all over have had no choice but to have recess INDOORS - Yikes! It can definitely be something to dread!

I hope these tips will alleviate some of the stress you feel the next time you are forced to let all those wild and crazy kiddos loose for a "free-for-all" time indoors.

For some of my sweeties, they are content with an entertaining movie, so I download some Magic School Bus and Berenstein Bear videos from United Streaming. If you don't have access to that, try You Tube or Teacher Tube, but you may need to save them to a flash drive then upload them to your desktop. Our system blocks You Tube for instance. One note, if you plan to just "stream" them whenever you find yourself indoors, you may be in for a disappointment. Streaming can be affected by weather, so save yourself some heartache and download them to a file on your computer. I keep mine on my desktop.

A few of my students also like to spend their time drawing on their whiteboards so, but I do have a rule. Since I provide many replacement whiteboard markers until the parents realize their child need more, I don’t allow my students to use the same sort of marker that I give out in class, just in case they are our classroom markers.

Next, invest in some DECENT games. We all have those worn-out games that have missing pieces, or the free puzzles we were given from a retiring teacher (which also is missing pieces).

I found a multi-pack of game pieces that look like the ones included in most board games. They came in the four primary colors, so that saved a few of my games (like Sorry).

Here are a few popular games that are inexpensive and a staple for an indoor recess shelf.  One note,  although Monopoly is one of my favorites, we never have enough time to finish a game.  I don't want my kiddos to feel cheated, so I don't bring that one out anymore. 


In addition to my games, I offer 3 computers that can be used for play.  Puzzles are a great addition, if, and only if they can be completed in the time alloted and have all the pieces.
The last suggestion, and what I think makes it all WORK, it the "system".  I found this idea on a teacher blog a long time ago.  I wish I knew where the idea generated because I'd love to give credit and express my thanks because this system has made indoor recess a BREEZE!  I am not kidding. 
You'll need an index card for each activity, as well as a craft stick for each student.  At the top, write the name of the each game and puzzle on an index card.  If you are including computers, use one index card to write "computers".  Then underneath the name, draw circles or dots for the number of people that can play or participate with that activity.  I have 3 computers, so I have 3 dots on the card with the word "Computers" written at the top.  If you have assigned each student a class number, this next step will be much quicker.  I generally have no more than 21 students, so I already have craft sticks made with the numbers 1 - 21 written on them.  Write each student name or number on a craft stick.  You are set.  Just call out the names of the activities on the cards to everyone.  Then one at a time, draw the craft sticks and call out that student's name or number and ask what activity they'd like to do during today's indoor recess.  Place that child's craft stick on the dot shown on the activity card.  Continue until all the dots are full on an activity card, then call out that that certain activity is full.  For example, "Checkers are full" means that no one else can choose it.  This "calling out" may take a bit longer the first time, but once they get familiar with the activities available, tell them to have their choice in their head and be ready to say it as soon as their name or number is called.  Now, I even have my helper of the week call recess activities.  They love this!  Here is a picture of my set of cards.
I store is all in this small baggie on our indoor recess shelf, along with all the games and puzzles.  When it is time for the next inside break, I hope you will find it goes much smoother!



  1. Indoor recess-Yuck! Thanks for sharing. I love the way you have it set up so the kids don't fight over the games.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier today. I'm a new follower of yours!
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. Hi Bethany,
    We braved it today and went out. I froze but my kiddos had a blast and they needed the activity. However we have had many indoor recesses this winter. This is the best way I found yet. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.


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