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24 Fun & Easy Indoor Recess Activities for Elementary Classrooms

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Show Notes:

There are two words that can quickly turn any teacher’s day upside down.

Indoor recess. 😳

If you know, you know! There are times when we can plan ahead of time for indoor recess, but there are also those days when a thunderstorm shows up out of nowhere and you realize that you’ll be stuck inside. 

Suddenly you have a room full of frustrated kids with so much energy and nowhere to run. I think it’s safe to say that these scenarios can cause equal levels of disappointment in students and teachers. That disappointment can quickly turn to chaos when indoor recess becomes a very loud ‘free for all’.

It’s in these moments that you realize the importance of having some tips and tricks up your sleeve that you can pull out when indoor recess has to happen. It requires some upfront work, but it will pay off big time when you have unexpected bad weather, or some other reason that stops you from heading out to the playground.

I have a variety of options for you that will keep your students engaged and will also cut down on challenging behaviors that could show up. While we want our students to have the chance to work off energy during indoor recess, we also need to have structures and expectations in place to keep it an enjoyable and stress-free time for everyone.

I recommend choosing five items/activities as indoor recess options on any given day. This will give your kids choices, but limit the mess and confusion. Remember, the key to indoor recess success is to think ahead and have a simple plan!

Here are some indoor recess activities, by grade level, that will cut the chaos and still be fun for your students.

General K-5 Activities for Indoor Recess:

Grades K-2 Activities for Indoor Recess:

  • Play Dough
  • Simon Says
  • Musical chairs
  • PBS Kids

Grades 3-5 Activities for Indoor Recess:

Inside this week's show, you'll learn:

  • The importance of setting clear rules and expectations before making indoor recess options available.
  • How to give students a visual reminder of what is and isn’t allowed during indoor recess, and how much time they have for activities.
  • An idea on how to eliminate loose drawing paper around your classroom.
  • Activities that are fun and will also allow students to practice addition and subtraction.
  • How to give your students the chance to lead indoor recess games while incorporating movement.
  • The simple consequence I use that’s super easy to implement.

Links & resources mentioned inside this episode:

I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at

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