Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Surviving Indoor Recess!

Winter is here!

Sometimes weather can take a toll on our minds, bodies, and our energy.  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 are also forced to have recess trapped inside in the same room they’ve been all day! Indoor recess is not something anyone looks forward to!

Here are some ideas to make the most of indoor recess, promoting physical activity and fun, in order to energize everyone for the day’s demands.  The best part? There’s little to no prep time for teachers!


  1. Image result for human knotBalloon volleyball
  2. Dance videos for kids on YouTube! Even better, subscribe to GoNoodle for daily brain breaks AND indoor recess fun!
  3. 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, 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.
  4. Hot/cold game: One student leaves the room and the class hides a specific object. When they re-enter you help them find it buy saying “hot” for when they move closer or “cold” for when they move farther away!
  5. Pictionary: Have the students draw a picture of a spelling word or something from the morning story! What student doesn’t love extra time to draw on a white board?
  6. Human knot: Each student reaches across the circle with his or her right hand to grab another student’s right hand. Students then reach in with their left hands to grab a different student’s left hand. The object is to untangle the group without letting go of hands until a complete circle is formed.

Image result for kids playing connect 4

The websites below have even more ideas!

As much as you want the students to get up and move to get some energy out, some students probably want to be quiet and just play a game, and as teachers, your room is probably packed with games already! Here are some board games that really work those fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and visual perceptual skills that are often addressed during occupational therapy sessions!

  1. Image result for kids playing jengaOperation
  2. Connect 4
  3. Geoboards
  4. Pop Up Pirate
  5. Legos
  6. Twister
  7. Rush Hour
  8. Mancala
  9. Hi Ho Cherry-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 tough on everyone,  with just a little bit of (or no!) work on your part, the time can be spent having the kids play and have fun while working…without them even knowing it!

Colleen Marshall, MS OTR/L

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