Fun Ideas for Indoor Recess

What's worse than a day without recess? Uhh, not much that I can think of. About three hours into the school day, I NEED A BREAK!

But, what's a teacher to do when it's rainy, snowy, or just too darn hot for outdoor recess? Nooo, don't lose your mind! I've got a few ideas to make indoor recess EASY and fun!


This is definitely the easiest option in my opinion. Just pull out the laptops, tablets, or whatever devices you have and let the kids enjoy some tech time.

The absolute favorite in my class is Prodigy Game. It's an adaptive math game for grades 1 to 8 that looks and feels a lot like fantasy role-playing games. Students get to customize their avatars and complete quests and battles by solving math problems. There's even a Wizard Academy!

My students are OBSESSED with this game! They would give up outdoor recess on a nice day to stay in and play Prodigy.


One thing my students really enjoy, especially the girls, is what they call Free Draw. They just love to sit and draw whatever they want. I put out markers, colored pencils, and crayons plus a stack of paper and they are happy!

Sometimes I bring out the "art box" which is a big cardboard box full of odds and ends... paper scraps, pipe cleaners, left over sequins, glue, bits of fabric, etc. They go nuts over this! Sometimes I set a limit on how many items they can take, but either way, they love just making something.

{Side Note: Be prepared to have your room redecorated. My class hangs their finished masterpieces all over the unused chalkboard and I end up looking at it for two weeks because I feel guilty taking it down.}

If you want something more directed, I highly recommend Art For Kids Hub on youtube. This collection of videos teach kids, step-by-step, how to draw specific objects and popular characters.

Group Games

There's a lot to choose from in this category, so I'll just share a couple of favorites in my class.

Do you remember playing Doggy, Doggy, Where's Your Bone as a kid? I still think it's fun (and actually join in sometimes). If you aren't familiar with it, here's a rundown:

  • Choose one person to be the doggy. He or she sits in a chair away from the group, eyes covered.

  • Place a small object (an eraser works well) under the doggy's chair. This is the bone.

  • Silently choose another student to sneak up and steal the doggy's bone.

  • That student should return to his or her seat and conceal the bone.

  • Then everyone calls out, "Doggy, Doggy, where's your bone? Somebody stole it from your home."

  • The doggy then turns around and gets 3 chances to guess who the thief was.

  • If he guesses correctly, he gets to be the doggy again. If he does not, the thief gets a turn at being doggy.

The other favorite in my room is 4 Corners. This game is pretty popular with kids, so you probably know it. But if not:

  • Assign a number to the corners of the room, 1 through 4.

  • Choose one student to be "it". That person sits facing a wall with eyes closed while the rest of the class go to one of the four corners in the room.

  • When all students are settled in a corner, the "it" person calls out a number. All the kids who chose that corner are out of the game and must sit down.

  • The remaining players move around and choose new corners and the sequence is repeated.

  • Once it gets down to just two players left, they must choose different corners.

  • When only one student is left, that student becomes "it" for the next game.

Activities with Movement

As every teacher knows all too well, kids need to move. A day without recess can quickly turn into a day of crazy, right? So if it won't disturb the other classes in your building, you can try some of these more active indoor recess activities:

Adventure To Fitness - This is a free website with both animated and live-action fitness videos for kids. They range in length from 5 to 30 minutes.

What makes these ​​videos fun is that each one sends you on a mission. It starts with a question. Then you have to jog, climb, leap, and crawl your way through whatever scenario you're in... a volcano, under the sea, the rainforest, etc. As your students exercise their way through the mission, they learn interesting facts that will help them answer the question they started with.

GoNoodle - This is another free website (although they have paid subscriptions too) with videos for kids. They range from in length from 2 minute brain breaks up to about 20 minutes. You can choose from categories like Guided Dancing, Free Movement, Stretching, Sports and Exercise, Kinesthetic Learning, Coordination, and Calming. There is also an Indoor Recess category with longer, 20 minutes videos.

Quiet Activities

Sometimes it's not the weather keeping you inside. Sometimes there's school-wide testing going on and the playground is off limits. If that's the case, and you have to keep your room quiet, you can still sneak in some fun. Here are a few ideas:

Charades - I don't think I really need to explain this one. You'll need to remind your students that charades is a no talking game. I usually call someone up to be the actor and either whisper their word/phrase to him or you can make them up ahead of time

Would You Rather - This activity is great fun but it can actually get noisy if you don't stay in control. There's really nothing to the "game" except having students choose between two equally distasteful choices like...

"Would you rather cuddle up with your brother's stinky socks or eat two-day old school lunch?"

You can make up a bunch of these questions ahead of time and write them on index cards or just buy a set: You Gotta Be Kidding or Would You Rather? are both good. Be careful to get a kids version like these. There are adult ones that would not be appropriate at all.

My class asks to play this whenever we have some free time. They love hearing what choices their friends will make! After I call on someone to answer a "Would you rather" question, that person gets to come up and draw a card for the next question.

Math Challenge - This is a math game my class made up and loves. I split them into two groups and they line up on opposite sides of the room. The first student in each line comes up to the board. I call out a math problem and they solve it as quickly as possible. The first one with the correct answer gets back in line. The other one sits down and is out.

We keep playing until one student is left. I have a little math trophy that gets to sit on the winner's desk until the next challenge. To keep this game quiet, I have a few rules:

  • No talking in line.

  • No calling out help to the players solving the problem.

  • When you get out, you have to use your whiteboard to solve the problems at your seat.

I occasionally have to dismiss a student from the playing line for breaking a rule. But after a few instances of that, they're pretty good about keeping things under control.

So there you have it... easy ideas for indoor recess. No need to sweat it any longer! If you have a great idea that I didn't mention, feel free to share it in the comments!

#recess #games

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