Top 10 Recess Activities

In my area the weather is starting to warm up, encouraging students to want to play outside.  At my school, we do not have playground equipment, so coming up with activities for recess is super important.  If I don’t have anything planned for my students, recess becomes an endless round of soccer balls and tag.  While those are good games, and allowed during recess, it is always nice to have something else in mind.  Here are my Top 10 activities for your students to do during recess. (If you are stuck inside due to cold weather or rain, I previously wrote a post about 10 ideas for indoor recess.)

1. Playground Games – I am always amazed at how many kids don’t know how to play basic playground games like Red Light, Green Light and What Time is it Mr. Fox.  I love to take time during recess to play these games with my kids.  Generally if I take Monday of each week and teach a new game, the kids will independently start a game for most of the rest of the week.  (If you need some ideas on which games to play, try Guy Bailey’s book, it has tons of suggestions!)


2. Jump Rope – One person jump ropes, double dutch ropes, chinese jump ropes, there are so many ways to use jump ropes with kids.  My students have always loved to learn the skipping songs to go along with them – and on a side note, these types of songs can help build phonemic awareness and fluency in reading.


3. Jacks & Marbles – These are another of those games that kids aren’t exposed to very much in these days of PlayStations, but they are both great ways for kids to work on coordination, fine motor skills and turn taking.


4. Sidewalk ChalkWhether they are playing hopscotch or drawing picture, using that great Dollar Store sidewalk chalk helps students work on those gross motor skills while having fun and getting some sunshine.  Feel the need to make it more academic?  Have the kids practice writing their spelling words, or write words on the ground ahead of time and let the kids jump on the words as you call them out.  (I could do a whole Top 10 post on how to use sidewalk chalk to have fun with academics!)

5. Bubbles– When I introduced my solids, liquids and gasses unit, we took some time to make and play with bubbles, and wow were my kids excited.  So excited, we took bubbles to recess every day for the next week!  Blowing bubbles is harder than it looks for young kids, and can be a learning experience in it’s own, or you can blow bubbles while they chase them.  Older students can have contests to see who can blow the biggest bubble or who can keep their bubble around longest.

6. Clapping Games – Ms. Mary Mack is the biggest hit in my room, with girls and boys alike!  There are tons of “clapping games” that kids can play on the playground, and while they are playing, they are building rhythm and steady beat, which helps with that reading fluency!

7.  ScarvesI am always amazed at how little it takes to keep kids content.  You can get a ton of these scarves for super cheap (or make them with scrap fabric) and the kids love to simply run and use them as kites or other imaginary items.  They are also a great alternative to dodge ball as no one is going to get hurt having a scarf thrown at them – and it takes much more skill to hit someone with a scarf than a ball!

8. Hula-hoops – Hull-a-hoops have so many other ways they can be used.  In addition to standard use, kids can use them as jump ropes, line them up on the ground and hop through them, make an obstacle course and more!

9. Charades – I never loved playing charades inside because it is so space limiting.  However, outside it can be much more fun.  I line half of my kids up on the benches, and let the others act out the same word, each giving their own variation.  Once someone guesses, we switch – it gets loud, and hilarious!  (I’ve got to remember to video tape for my parents.)

10. Hacky Sack – When I was in high school, hacky sack was the big game.  If you don’t have a hacky sack, a bean bag will work, and the general premise is to keep the sack off the ground, without using your hands.  Sounds easy, looks hard, and works on lots of motor skills!




P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Board Games for Math, Top 10 Toys I Steal From My Kids, Top 10 Educational Toys, Top 10 Educational Movies, and Top 10 Ways to Teach Critical Thinking. Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.


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About rakisradresources

teacher mother of 3 wife

3 responses to “Top 10 Recess Activities”

  1. Sally DeCost says :

    I love this post! Actually, I admit, I love all your posts, but I really wanted to comment on this one… I love old fashioned games that have no electronics and make the kids jump around, hop, run, laugh, create, and generally have fun unplugged. Thanks for another great post!

    Sally from ElementaryMatters

  2. Jill says :

    Thanks for posting this! I supervise recess a few times a week and I think that teaching the kids organized games might cut down on the fighting that goes on. I am going to try it out this week I think!! 🙂

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