Here in Minnesota, we are stuck in a vortex of grayyyyy and cold. Whether you’re with us in Minnesota or not, below is a list of 5 no-sun-need-some-fun inside recess ideas to get you and your students through the last weeks of winter:
Take off your shoes!
It’s easy! Have your students take off their shoes, because being barefoot stimulates the brain! Ask them to walk around on the cold tile floor, on the scratchy carpet, or on the smooth wood, and F-E-E-L the strong, solid ground under their feet.
If you really want to make their day, roll out some bubble wrap…you know, the stuff you use when packaging items to mail. They can walk, jump, and pop the bubbles. Liberating!
If bubble wrap isn’t your thing (or too noisy), unroll a big sheet of brown packing paper and tape it to the floor. Have your students dip their feet in water and walk on the paper. Then, have them look at their footprints. If you are brave and ambitious (of course you are, you’re a teacher!), have students press their feet in washable paint and walk on the brown paper. In true teacher form, you will want to lay down paint tarps and have soap and water handy.
After the brown-foot-printed-paper dries, hang it on the wall and ask students to examine what they see. Why are our feet shaped that way? Why did Xavier pick purple paint and Evvie pick yellow? Why do we have 5 toes, and not 6? You can explore all kinds of anatomical questions or use their footprint creation to spark a story. Fun!
Bring the outside, in!
Recruit some helpers to fill up a few pails with snow. Then, go inside and dump the snow into a water table or into rubber bins. Depending on the grade you teach, provide students with spray bottles filled with colored water and eye droppers so they can paint the snow.
Use a variety of utensils so they can dig, scoop, and pour. Pull out your magnifying glasses and have students answer the question, What exactly is in that snow, anyway? Weigh and measure the snow, estimate how long it will take to melt, stir it with big spoons, throw some glitter in the snow and see what happens!
Spaces and places!
If it is too cold to take students outdoors, scour your school for a place where they can move. Most schools are roomy, so see if there is a hallway or multipurpose room you and your students can use, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. Check with the P.E. teacher and find out if there is gym availability, then adjust your schedule and use it!
Is your classroom a place where students can move?
Stand-up desks, balance boards, exercise balls and wobble chairs are all good ways to encourage and honor our bodies’ natural need to move. Ask your students to help arrange the classroom in a way that allows for, and encourages, action!
Games, Games, Games!
Games are a great learning tool!
Here are our favorite inside recess games:
- The Stand-Up Game and Choreograph Your Classroom: These two videos demonstrate how teachers can use the Stand-Up Game and Choreograph Your Classroom to engage students with movement, rhythm, and rhyme!
- Twister: Call us old school but some games are tried-and-true. Take a peek at Twister and get ready for your students to chant “right-hand blue!” “left foot yellow!” as they test their flexibility and stamina!
- Sponges: Draw a target on the whiteboard or floor, or place pails in different locations around the room. Ask students to aim for the bullseye or the bucket using dry sponges. Sponges are a safe, peaceful and creative way for students to burn off angst and test their accuracy. When the weather warms up, just add water! (outside).
- GoNoodle: A library of videos that get kids dancing, moving, jumping, and happy, this is GoNoodle! Loaded with brain break activities, GoNoodle for Educators is loved by teachers (and students). Engage their brains and bodies with GoNoodle!
Like everything that is new to us, at first yoga may feel awkward, but don’t let that stop you from trying! Most of us know that yoga is good for us, and the research from Harvard University supports it, too.
The practice of yoga regulates our breathing, increases focus, ensures we are present, helps with balance, assists in managing stress, works to alleviate anxiety, and can improve classroom behavior. That’s quite an endorsement!
Not sure how to begin? Show this video from Yoga In the Classroom With Adriene to your students, a simple, safe way to start.