Many times, throughout the school year, kids hear those two words they don’t want to hear—indoor recess. Often times this means kids spend more time sitting and engaging in sedentary activities like watching videos. Are your students restless from being cooped up inside due to the rain or cold? Have no fear! Indoor recess can be active, regardless of space or equipment constraints.
The benefits of an active recess include increasing focus, developing social skills, and promoting an active lifestyle. The outdoors is the best place for children to burn calories, practice emerging physical skills, and experience the pure joy of movement. However, when the weather prevents kids from going outside, it is important to not deny kids an active alternative.
Recess and Research
Physical activity feeds the brain. Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that a large portion of the brain is activated during physical activity—much more so than while sedentary. Eric Jensen, an author of several books on brain-based learning, tells us that remaining seated for periods longer than 10 minutes “reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue.” Furthermore, this results in reduced concentration and can lead to discipline problems. Purposeful planning is absolutely necessary here. Be sure to integrate as much movement as possible when time is spent indoors. The classroom limits how much space kids have to move freely, but there are some creative ideas out there that minimize this issue.
Indoor Recess: What a Blast!
One of my favorites is a website called Go Noodle. For example, why not turn your classroom into a dance party? There are several videos to choose from that lead children through a series of gross motor movements in a fun way. Students won’t even realize they are exercising! Another website that is just as entertaining is Ko Ko Kangaroo. My students’ personal favorite is the Roller Coaster ride. To be honest, I enjoyed it as much, if not more, than they did! To add variety, kids can play games like Balloon Tennis. This fun game involves hitting balloons using paper plates as paddles. I placed kids in teams of four and they stood in a Foursquare box. Another idea would be hitting a beach ball to keep it from hitting the floor, which of course provides tremendous entertainment.
Another favorite indoor recess activity is called The Human Alphabet. This requires some open space, so move those desks back. Kids get into teams of five and lay down on the floor to create letters of the alphabet. Each team picks an alphabet card. Play some fun music and when the music stops, so do the kids. The teams that correctly form the letter chosen, earn a point. The team with the most points win!
Teachers work so hard to get the very best out of their students in the classroom. Recess provides an important break to recharge their learning battery so that optimal learning can thrive! The idea of creating movement opportunities to increase learning engagement should be utilized in all learning situations, including during tutoring sessions. Remember that 10-minute rule! Be kind to their brains—Get’em up and keep ’em moving!
Samantha Brooks, MSE, Dyslexia Therapist
Samantha Brooks is an Intern Instructor with Brainspring Educator Academy.