14 Ideas for indoor recess
It’s winter. It’s cold. You know that means (groannnnn)… Indoor recess is upon us. It’s the least wonderful time of the year. If you’re running out of ideas or just need a refresher to keep your class engaged and having fun, while also being calmish during recess, keep reading. I have 14 ideas for indoor recess for you today and a freebie at the end!
Activities for your hands
- Play dough: All kids love play dough. You can pick some up at Wal-Mart for 50 cents a can, which is nice. Because of the price, caregivers have been willing to donate play dough to our classroom if I sent out a request for it. Play dough can last all year as long as you teach your students how to clean it up and keep the lids on tight.
- Geoboards: I remember using Geoboards so much as a kid and always loved them. When I pulled them out for indoor recess one time, it was hard to pull my students away! They loved them!
- Legos: Kids love to build. That’s all there is to it! They can be expensive though so I suggest scouring Facebook Marketplace, asking for hand-me-downs from caregivers in your classroom, searching garage sales and your local consignment shops, etc. I bought mine at Target in the party section one year (find them here).
Activities for your mind
- Puzzles: I was always so amazed at how much kids love puzzles. The great thing about puzzles is you can usually find them at Dollar Tree for $1! As long as they are taken care of the right way, they’ll last a long time! Here’s a tip to not lose or disorganize pieces: Designate a shape to each puzzle. For example, if your construction truck puzzle is the triangle puzzle, draw a triangle on the back of each piece and also on the front of the box. Then, your students will know all the triangle pieces should be in that box.
- Brain Flakes: These manipulatives are definitely for the hands and mind, so it could go in either category. These were always a big hit in my classroom. I was always so surprised by the amazing things they build with these little flakes.
- Pattern Blocks: Since I typically only pulled these out during our shapes unit, this was another one students really enjoyed.
- Math Games: Sneak some math games in for your students to play. Remember, learning can be fun! So, why not play a math game? Check out these winter math games that are great for practicing many math skills and have a fun winter theme!
Activities for creativity
- Whiteboard Drawing: Such a simple way to make some kids very happy! A lot of times, I would look over and a small group would be playing “school”. This is when I would notice they would say things like me and it would either make me laugh or cringe ? I would purposefully grab a large pack of dry erase markers during back to school sales or on Prime Day for students to do this during indoor recess.
- Arthub and Directed Drawings: These were always a class favorite. They’re fun to turn into cards or stories, but also fun to just draw!
Activities to get the wiggles out
- GoNoodle: If you haven’t heard of GoNoodle, run! You need it in your classroom! This website offers many free brain breaks for your students, but I particularly love the ones specifically for indoor recess. They’re in different increments of time and just keep going so you don’t have to keep finding videos.
- Cosmic Yoga: I found Cosmic Yoga with my toddlers during our quarantine and I’m a big fan! I love the different themes you can pick and how she walks you through a story with your yoga exercise.
Other Fun Activities
- Shadow Puppets: Turn off the lights and turn on your SmartBoard or overhead light. Take turns making shadow puppets!
- Mum: This was my personal favorite in elementary school, mainly because it’s completely silent and I was a quiet kid ? Students sit on their desk and throw a squishy ball to another student. If anyone make s a sound, they are out and sit in their seat.
- Board Games: If you can get your hands on some board games, they’re a great addition to any classroom for indoor recess!
Tips For Success
The most important thing for indoor recess is to keep your sanity. These ideas for indoor recess are a great starting point, but you need rules! So, you need to come up with ground rules for what is okay and what is not. You need to decide what you are comfortable with, especially with volume since they will get loud. Here are some things that helped me:
- Treat it like centers. Set up different centers around the room and make a maximum number of students that can be at each one.
- Stop with enough time to clean up. There is nothing worse than stopping your indoor recess time and needing to switch to a bathroom break and kids aren’t cleaned up yet. Make sure you give plenty of clean-up time for success.
- Teach indoor recess expectations just like you would anything else. Indoor recess rules need to be taught; your students won’t just know what you expect of them. This is a huge mistake I’ve made many times. They’ve had indoor recess before so why don’t they know how to act?! Well, because they are kids and are excited to play!
Grab Free Indoor Recess Activities
To amp up your indoor recess activities, sign up below to grab free play dough cards, math games, Lego cards, and geoboard cards!
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