Every teacher knows that feeling: it’s raining, it snowed and the fields are covered in snow, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, they are mowing the lawn, or perhaps doing work on the playground and you can’t take the students out for recess. It is very frustrating because as teachers, we know that the children need recess. Not only is it good for socialization, but the exercise benefits their academic study. But many times, teachers resign themselves to doing nothing. They give students free time, or break out the board games, educational and non-educational. While this is great for the students at times, it’s best to also give students physical activities during recess.
Silent Speed Ball
This game is definitely a crowd pleaser. First, students make a circle. They can play either sitting or standing. You start with one ball. The students have to pass the ball across the circle to another student. The students cannot talk during the game. If a student talks, they are out. Or, if you want no outs, then have them do 10 jumping jacks to get back in. If a student passes the ball to someone, and the receiver does not catch it, they are out or have to do an exercise. You keep going until one person is left. You can vary this by having smaller groups, and adding in more balls. I suggest using a safe ball like fleece balls or gator skin balls. There is no amount on how long they can hold the ball, but if the teacher wants to set a limit, they can.
Sit Down Tag
This activity is another one of those no brainers. Students love it, and it keeps them moving and active. Your room may get a little noisy and sweaty, but it is worth it. In this game, students stand in front of their chairs or on a spot in an open space in the room. You pick one tagger. The tagger’s job is to go around and try to tag the students who are standing. The standing students want to sit down before they get tagged. If they get tagged, they have to do 10 jumping jacks. If they do not get tagged and sit down in time, they only have 5 seconds to get back up. The tagger cannot babysit or stand over anyone, they have to keep moving. You can make it harder by adding multiple taggers and having the students only stay down for 3 seconds. This game is fast, furious, and fun.
Want to calm the students down and help them relax? Then this is for you. Cosmic Kids is a fantastic YouTube channel that is all about Yoga for students. The videos can go as long as 30 plus minutes, and they are creative and colorful. The benefits of yoga for physical and mental well-being are well documented. Therefore, recess is the perfect opportunity to work this in. You do whole group instruction, or if you have Chromebooks or iPads, you can let students work in groups, individually, or at their own pace. Don’t have the technology for this? Don’t worry. Try these yoga cards as an easy way to introduct yoga to students.
If you have a projector and computer, consider putting up Go Noodle. Go Noodle is a website that is rich with short, yet movement-oriented activities. From silly songs combined with dance moves to academic material combined with movement, students love this site. As a PE teacher, I have used it when I had no choice but to be in the classroom for circumstances out of my control. The children ask for it again and again. Plus, they have videos labeled just for recess. Use Go Noodle and you will not regret it!
This old school game is timeless. You need nothing but the students and space. Plus, you can get creative. Instead of just having the students do physical activities, you can have them integrate math or another subject. For example, you could have Simon tell them to do 10 jumping jacks and then answer what 5 plus 5 is. The beauty of this game is that with a little instruction and some sample exercises, students can run the game themselves. You can use these exercise cards for inspiration.
Next time recess has to be inside, you’ll be prepared! Rotating through these activities will keep the students active, engaged, and they’ll get extra exercise without even knowing it.
About the Author:
Charles Silberman is a physical education and health teacher with 14 years of teaching experience. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff in-services and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. He has experience writing curriculum from scratch and writing published information specific to physical education in state and nationally recognized publications and websites. Charles has also created a niche as a physical education specialist who fuses technology and primary instructional subjects into physical education lessons.
View all of his Professional Development courses at the S&S Worldwide online school.