Many times throughout the school year, kids hear those two words they don’t want to hear: Indoor recess. This often means that kids spend more time engaging in activities like watching videos rather than exercise. Are your students restless from being cooped up inside due to 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 their emerging physical skills, and experience the pure joy of movement. But, when the weather prevents us from going outside, it is important not to deny kids an active alternative. Physical activity feeds the brain.
Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that most of the brain is activated during physical activity—much more so than while being sedentary. And, as Eric Jensen, author of several books on brain-based learning, tells us, remaining seated for periods longer than 10 minutes “reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue,” resulting in reduced concentration and discipline problems.
Purposeful planning is vital here. Be sure to integrate as much movement into the time spent indoors. The classroom does limit how much space you have to move freely, but there are some creative ideas out there that minimize this issue.
Four Ways to Upgrade Indoor Recess
One of my favorite resources is a website called GoNoodle; it helps you 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. They won’t even realize they are exercising!
To add variety, play Balloon Tennis. This fun game involves hitting balloons with paper plate paddles. It helps to put kids in groups of four, and they stand in a four-square court while hitting the balloons to each other. Also, you can use a beach ball to hit toward each other. This goal is to keep it from hitting the floor. This 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 in 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 form the letter they chose earn a point. The team with the most points wins!
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! Creating movement opportunities to increase learning engagement can be utilized in all learning situations, including tutoring sessions. Remember that ten-minute sitting rule! Be kind to their brains: Get ‘em up and keep ‘em moving!
Written by Sam Brooks, MSE, CDP.
Sam is a Brainspring Instructor and co-host of The Orton-Gillingham Podcast.
Brainspring has proudly supported the educational community for more than 25 years.