When the weather outside is frightful, teachers have to cancel recess on the playground. Don't let the rain dampen your chance to enjoy the break inside. Brighten up a dreary day with activities that encourage learning, movement, and, most importantly, play.
Balloons and Balls
Even without gymnasium access, students can engage in physical activities that are carried out in a classroom. Balloons can liven any classroom. See how many the class can keep afloat at once. After each student blows up a balloon, place one student in a central area and instruct that student to bat about two balloons for a few seconds. If the student can keep them from touching the floor, send in a second student with a balloon. After a few more seconds, have another student bring a balloon to join them. Keep repeating this process until any one of the balloons hits the floor.
Foam balls can be used in this sort of activity, too, but you may not have one for everybody. Play a name game even if you just have one ball or a single balloon. It's a game of catch, but if the child whose name has been called misses the ball, then the consequence is to do ten jumping jacks. The kids will be glad for the exercise and they'll be more focused when it is time for a lesson to begin.
Music and Motion
A game of musical chairs remains an ever-popular way to spend a recess, especially when the winner receives a cool prize from the teacher's treasure box! Another way to include music and physical activity will require the help of a little technology. Share videos like those created by Just Dance Kids. Watch the videos together, discuss the moves, and then try the steps out for yourselves.
No video is required for a game like Dance Freeze. When students hear music playing, they have to dance; when the music stops, everyone must freeze in place. Anyone caught dancing without music can continue cutting up a rug after doing a dozen sit-ups.
Slower in Pace
While prizes always add to the excitement, not every indoor activity requires the teacher to have extra materials. Heads Up 7-Up is the kind of game that requires no prior planning and is easy for a teacher to monitor. Seven students are selected to be "it." Everyone else rests with their heads down and a thumb extended up. Each student who is "it" presses down a thumb before returning to the front of the class. Call, "Heads up, seven-up." This is the cue for all students to lift their heads and for the selected seven to stand up to guess which student pressed down their thumbs. If they guess correctly, they switch places with that person, making the new person "it."
Engage students in creative activities and watch the time fly by! Many craft kits include all the materials you need to make bookmarks, decorations, and magnets. Foam craft kits continue to gain popularity. By using simple instructions and precut shapes that are often self-adhesive, kids can assemble everything from animals to monsters.
Whiteboards and chalkboards can be used for making murals or they can be the centerpiece for a classic game of Pictionary. You'll need a set of cards designating the items to be drawn. Have students prepare these using index cards. Suggest ideas from learning experiences you've shared together. (Not only can you save these cards for future rainy days, but you can also use many of them for playing charades.)
Board games can be a fun way to pass the time indoors. Bring out the student-created board games your class made in an earlier unit of study. Students can use their family-favorite board games as models to create literary-themed or historical-themed board games. Recess indoors is the perfect time to enjoy assessments with real-life applications such as these.
Play Stations, Not Videogames
Teachers shouldn't feel obligated to lead every indoor recess; the key is to train students early in how the time is to be spent. Any one of the previous activities can be enjoyed by the whole class or in a small group. These activities can take place in designated areas of the classroom: stations (or centers). Stations have all the supplies needed for the activities. Stations can be placed about the room for learners of various styles.
Fill visual stations with puzzles and mazes. Books with hidden pictures like the I Spy type are quiet ways to pass time. Noise isn't always bad; bring in children's keyboards, guitars, and shakers. Motivate the poetic and musical minded to compose a song inspired by a novel the class has read or write lyrics using current vocabulary. Echo microphones can add fun effects. Those who are tactile learners may enjoy a play dough station. Even a child's olfactory system can be stimulated with a station of scented markers and erasers or scratch-and-sniff stickers and books.
Have rainy-day activities ready to go before the weather hits. On a rainy day, having a plan for structured play indoors is just as important as having your umbrella!