Winter is my favorite season. I love bundling up to head to outside, drinking hot chocolate, and sitting in the living room to watch the snow fall in the angelic glow of the street light outside our window. When it’s so cold that nobody wants to go anywhere, the family gathers around the table and plays a boardgame and drinks mugs of hot chocolate with candy canes in them.
I really could go on and on with all the winter wonder that makes it my favorite season. But there is one downside to winter weather, and that is indoor recess when it’s unacceptable to go outside. Because I live in North Carolina and we don’t have too many days below freezing in a row, most of the schools that I have taught in use the freezing point as the cut off. Above 32° means you put on your coats and mittens, grab a toboggan, and run through those double doors to play outside. Anything colder means kids must spend their playtime indoors.
To help you combat those indoor recess worries, here are five indoor recess activities to pull from on those cold or rainy days during the school year.
This is a favorite winter time indoor recess activity. I bought some fake snowballs, but if you don’t have any you can always just crumple up paper. I have had a snowball fight in our classroom, but the class loves going to the gym during the PE teacher’s lunch and having our snowball fights in there! The kids that normally hang around the teachers at regular outside recess don’t stop running when they have a snowball in their hand! This year, my class even started making snow angels on the gym floor! They were totally into the winter weather recess!
Around the World
My kids love this game every year, but this year my kids ask for it repeatedly! This game takes indoor recess and makes it academic. Every kid begins in his/her seat. One kid gets up and stands behind the next kid at the table. The teacher flashes them a card with any number of skills on it. The kid who answers the fastest gets to move onto the next student. The goal is to get around the whole class and back to your original seat.
I call each kid a country as they move around the room. For example, if Cruse and Jase are going head to head and Cruse wins, then I say, “Cruse, move on to Country Faye” because Faye is in the next seat. The kids love it. The skills we play with are number identification, simple addition, letter identification, and letter sound identification. Really any skill where you can provide a visual clue to elicit a response is a skill that you can use in this game.
For this game, the kids get in a big circle. There are two simple rules. Rule 1: you need to catch the ball when it’s thrown to you. Rule 2: you can’t make a sound. When I count backwards to one, the silence starts. I toss the ball to the first person, and then I step out of the game.
I am the judge, and the students know that when I tell them to sit down, they need to do it without complaining. The great thing is that if a student tries to argue, then they are talking and are out anyway. Having said that, I am very forgiving. If a throw was a bad throw and hard to catch, I tell the student, “You’re fine. That was a bad throw. Pick up the ball up and throw it to another player. “After a time to two, every time a student doesn’t catch a ball, they freeze and look at me to tell them if they are out, but they never make a sound! This is a game that can take ten minutes or so to play, but I’ve never had a class that was satisfied with just playing one game. So, make sure you have plenty of time before you start a game.
Doggy, Doggy Where’s My Bone?
This is a great game to play no matter how much time you have. I remember playing this game when I was a kid and I always loved it and even though you will frequently hear, “Kids have really changed over the years.” But, children’s love of this game is still as strong as when I was a youngster. You can use any object as the dog’s bone; however, I lucked out at a tradeshow when I ran across a company that was giving out bone-shaped stress balls.
Here is how this game works:
Pick a student to hide from the group. They need to count to a predetermined number. When they start counting, I give the bone to a student. They must hide it somewhere on their person. (a pocket, in their lap, or wherever they can quickly make it disappear) The student who was counting comes back and says, “Doggy, Doggy, where’s my bone?” The students sit quietly, and the counter gets three guesses as to who has the bone. After the third incorrect guess, the student who successfully hid the bone gets to go count, and the student who was searching for the bone gets to give the bone to another student. If the counter guesses who has the bone successfully, they get to go count again and the bone hider gives the bone to another student. The students can’t get enough of this game, and they all look guilty! It’s so fun!
This is another super easy indoor recess activity that incorporates movement and academics. Basically, the class sits in a circle around the trampoline. Each kid gets on the trampoline and counts as high as they can. When a kid misses a number, he/she gets off the trampoline and the next kid gives it a try. Students who struggle with repetition counting get the rhythm of counting and get to hear multiple students count before they try. This activity is very simple but super fun and before you know it, everybody can count to 100 because they start working on at home so they can jump longer at school!
These five indoor recess activities are so much fun! When it’s raining as my students come to school, they start requesting these games during our morning greeting times. Please leave a comment below with your favorite indoor recess activity and any feedback you have about the ones I listed above.
Need More Indoor Recess Ideas? Check out our Printables!