Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Indoor recess….again?!

First, we hope everyone is surviving the blistering, cold, fierce weather out there!

Sometimes weather can take a toll on our minds, bodies, and our energy.  But we are not the only ones who feel the negative effects of the winter, kids feel it too!  Not only do they have to get bundled up in countless layers, which means extra buttons and zippers, but they may also be forced to have recess trapped inside in the same room they’ve been all day!  Indoor recess can be a pain for kids and also teachers!

Here’s some games to make the most of indoor recess in order to promote physical movement we all know our students desperately need while having fun in order to energize everyone for the day’s demands.

  1. Balloon volleyball – set up a string or rope across part of the classroom, blow up a balloon, and tape tongue depressors to the back of paper plates for racquets! You’re ready to play!
  2. Dance videos for kids on YouTube. There are so many “Just Dance” videos! Here’s links to a few really fun ones!
  1. Sharks and minnows: have one “shark” in the middle of the room and have the “minnows” on one end of the room. They can either crawl, animal walk, hop, walk on tip-toes, or even walk backwards! You could even ask the gym teacher to borrow a scooter and play in the hallway! The object of the game is for the “shark” to tag the “minnows.” Once he tags the minnows, they are turned into sharks. The last person to be turned into a shark is the winner!
  2. Sleeping lions: have everyone lay on the ground and have one “zoo keeper” watch for any lion that is moving. If they move, then they also become a zoo keeper and continue to watch for any more restless lions. The game ends once one sleepy lion is left on the ground.
  3. Rock, paper, scissors: Separate your classroom into two teams and stand in the middle of the room. The wall behind each team is their “safe zone.” Each team either decides what they will be (rock, paper, scissors) or have a teacher decide for them. On the count of three each line acts out what they chose to be (for rock they crouch down into a ball, for paper they spread their legs and arms out like a jumping jack, and for scissors they put their arms out like an alligator). The line that wins chases after the other line as they try to run to the wall behind them.
  4. Silent ball: Have everyone spread out in the room. You have one leader who holds a medium-sized ball and counts down, “3,2,1” and passes the ball to another person in the play area. A player must sit down if s/he drops the ball, makes a bad pass, they talk or make noise. Play continues until only one person remains, last player standing gets to be the leader next round.  For young players have them sit or stand in a circle close enough to catch/throw.  For more of a challenge ask players to put one hand behind their back or spread out even further.


Movement is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life! Movement allows children to connect concepts to action.  Children acquire knowledge by doing, which promotes imagination, self-directed play, and movement.  Movement at school will help children focus, relax, and connect with their peers.  Here are some more blogs with more tips on how to keep these kids moving in the classroom!

While we know children need movement, we also know some students probably want to be quiet and maybe just play a game and as teachers your room is probably packed with games already. Here’s some board games that really work those fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and fine motor skills that are often addressed during occupational therapy sessions!

  1. Operation
  2. Connect 4
  3. Geoboards
  4. Pop Up Pirate
  5. Legos
  6. Twister
  7. Rush Hour
  8. Mancala
  9. Hi Ho Chery-O
  10. Trouble
  11. Sorry!
  12. Hidden Picture puzzles
  13. Battleship
  14. Mastermind
  15. Jenga
  16. And so many more!

So while indoor recess can be annoying (to say the least) with just a little bit of work on your part, the time can be spent having the kids play and have fun while working…without them even knowing it!

What tricks of the trade do you have to survive indoor recess? Share your favorite games or activities!

Colleen Marshall MS, OTR/L & Kelsey Bradshaw OTS

This Post Has One Comment

  1. The perfect inclement weather “Survival Guide”. Hope everyone shares with their teacher-friends. Thanks, Colleen and Kelsey!

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