Remote learning is the name of the game in many cities and towns around the US this year. That means hours in front of screens for children, and not a lot of the usual physical movements that come with in-person learning. As a result, there are a lot of fidgety legs that need to move when recess time comes around!
Without a classroom full of playmates running around outside together after lunch, parents and caregivers are tasked with helping their little ones make the most of recess time, whether that’s with siblings, an adult, or solo. To make this easier, we’ve rounded up fifteen ideas that can make recess breaks fun, even without a playground.
1. Play tag
If you can take your child outside for a break, head out to the yard for a game of tag. No set up required, just get running to burn off some pent up energy!
2. Dance party
For a quick recess break, pump up the music and have a dance party. Get in on the dancing action with your children too! Virtual learning can be stressful for both kids and adults, but getting your body moving can change your mood faster than you can say “Alexa, play the Trolls soundtrack.”
3. Make a snack together
Get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen for snack time. For the ambitious, make a snack with your child that matches up with what they are learning that day in school. For the very tired, go with peanut butter or sun butter, raisins, and celery. Ants on a log wins for fun and ease every time.
4. Jump around!
Those little legs are ready to move after sitting still for an hour or more in front of the screen. Challenge your child to do as many jumping jacks as they can in one minute. Or throw pillows on the floor for a safer version of jumping up and down on the couch that (hopefully) won’t require stitches!
Adult coloring books are a thing for a reason - coloring is calming. If your little one needs a break from the screens but isn’t up running around at the moment, crayons, markers, and a stack of paper may be just the right recess activity.
6. Sensory bin
A sensory bin can take a lot of different forms. Try pinecones, rice, playdough, gel beads, shaving cream, dry beans, leaves, small blocks, or even just water. For very young children this activity can entertain them for a while! For elementary school children, you can turn a sensory bin into a science experiment by adding baking soda, vinegar, and eye droppers.
7. Sidewalk chalk
In nice weather, chalk on the driveway or sidewalk can be a great recess activity. You can even bring chalk into the garage, or paint a whole wall of your house with chalkboard paint if you’re really feeling desperate (hey..sometimes it happens!).
8. Ride bikes
For a longer recess break, hop on bicycles for a ride around the block or down the street. Children with a need for speed are going to be itching to move after sitting in front of the computer and bikes are a great way to do that.
9. Keep It up
Do you have a balloon hanging around in your junk drawer or in a bin of birthday party supplies? Blow it up for a quick game of “keep it up” between class sessions. This simple game always brings a lot of laughs for a teeny tiny investment.
You can pull off hopscotch outside or inside. For outside, go the classic route with chalk and a stone to toss onto the squares. For inside, you can use painters tape on the floor and a coin to toss. (The child who cleans up the tape afterwards gets the coin - everyone wins!)
11. Play catch
Siblings can head outside for a quick game of catch during recess to give everyone the break they need. Football, baseball, frisbee - whatever! Just as long as no one is playing with mom’s last nerve.
12. Relay races
Turn recess time into a party with relay races that will get the little ones moving. Try egg on a spoon, sack race, three legged race, or crab walk. Any of these races will give children the stretch break they need after a long day.
13. Guided minute workout
Avoiding screens during virtual learning recess time is a good idea, but you can still make use of technology. There are lots of mobile apps to download that will play an instructor-led 5 to 10 minute workout including jumping jacks, situps, and squats. Even younger children can have fun with this, plus you can squeeze in some exercise too!
14. Jump rope
If you haven’t jumped rope in a while, you are going to realize very quickly that this is a young man’s game. Why was jumping rope ever fun!? But the kids are young and spry so they can have fun with it. This works outside or in a cleared out space inside if needed.
15. Floor is lava
Doesn’t it feel like everything is lava this year? It’s been rough and we’re putting out emotional, mental, and actual real fires left and right. Lots of burning hot lava… The silver lining - you can Mary Poppins this and turn it into a quick recess game. Hop all over the furniture, kids, but don’t touch the floor - the floor is lava!
Have fun at recess!