For most kids, virtual learning has moved school into homes, where they’re required to stare at a screen all day. That’s why it’s so important to replicate recess at home and give kids the break they deserve in the middle of the day. But without much space and other kids to play with, you may be at a loss for how to create a fun, worthwhile recess experience for your kids.
Look no further! There are so many great activities you can do with your kids to make recess enjoyable, so here are a few to get you started, organized by the amount of room you have to work with!
Ideally, recess is a time for kids to get some physical activity and let their energy out so that they’re more focused when they go back to learning. However, if you don’t have the space, there are some great alternative activities that can be done at your living room table.
Tie Dye T-Shirts
This is one of the easiest arts and crafts activities you can do from home but also one of the most fun. Gather a few white t-shirts, ziploc bags, and colored dyes. Twist the t-shirts into a shape of your choice and apply the dyes as you wish. Then tie up the shirts and put them into bags for a few hours. Then once you kids finish their afternoon schoolwork, the t-shirts will be patterned and ready to wear. There’s no right or wrong way to tie dye a t-shirt, so get creative!
Invent a Card Game
Here’s another activity where your childrens’ imaginations can take off. Using a standard 52-card deck, let your kids come up with a fun game based off of the different cards. Remind them that they aren’t limited to the conventional uses of the cards, but can instead make their own rules.
For example, if someone draws a five of hearts, perhaps they have to do five jumping jacks. Or maybe if someone draws a nine of clubs, the person to their right has to name nine types of candy. The cards are just a medium to help kids with organization – the point is for them to think critically about how to create the most interesting, imaginative indoor game.
Now we’re onto the games that can be played with a limited amount of outdoor space, such as a garage, driveway, or small backyard. Although these games don’t include large-scale physical activities like running or throwing a ball, they’re meant to help kids get their energy out with what little space they can use.
Everybody knows and loves hopscotch! Take a piece of chalk and draw a set of squares on the ground, then take turns jumping through the squares using only one foot. Hopscotch is a great exercise in balance and coordination.
There are a few variations you can include to make the game less formulaic. For instance, try drawing two identical hopscotch courses right next to each other and have a race! Or make a hopscotch course circular, like a racetrack, for an extra challenge. Turning your body around while jumping on one foot is more challenging than you think! Even though the fundamentals of hopscotch are extremely basic, there are many ways to add an extra element.
If you already know what slacklining is, you may be curious how it can be a fun game for children. Essentially, slacklining is an activity in which players must try to walk across a suspended rope, which is usually tied to two poles or trees. The activity is highly difficult but there are ways of simplifying it for younger audiences.
Try finding two trees about 10 to 15 feet apart. Tie one thick rope between the trees and a few feet off the ground. Make sure the rope is sturdy and parallel to the ground. If they aren’t able to stand on the rope, they can hug it and crawl across. If that’s still too challenging, tie another rope about a few feet above the other, so they can stand on the bottom one and hold the top one for support. Slacklining is a difficult game that tests kids’ balance and strength, but kids who like a challenge will love it.
Lots of Space:
These are the games that recess was built for. With access to sizable spaces such as a park, meadow, or large backyard, you can always let your kids run wild… but if you want a more controlled recess atmosphere, these are the activities you’re looking for.
Backyard Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses bring exercise, competitiveness, and fun together for an awesome recess experience. If you’re at a playground, come up with a list of tasks for each kid to do and then time them to see how fast it takes them. An example obstacle course may look like this:
Run up the stairs, slide down the pole, climb the rock wall, and come down the swirly slide. Make sure the kids know the order and supervise them while they run through the course.
If you don’t have a playground to work with, set up your own obstacles. Cones, boxes, and even sprinklers can work as obstacles that kids need to avoid to finish the course quickly. After a few rounds, let them come up with their own course and rules!
Slip and Slide
Keep the magic of summer alive all year long with a slip and slide. All you need for this activity is a tarp and some soap and water. Lay out the tarp in your outdoor space and pour the soap and water on top. In a matter of minutes you’ve created an activity the kids of all ages will enjoy.
Slip and slides can still be fun in the colder months. When the weather gets chilly add some padding below the slip and slide and simply bundle your kids up in clothes that can get dirty. Even if the sun isn’t shining, the slip and slide will still be a blast for your kids and a fun activity to break up the school day!
What are your favorite recess activities? Share a video of your child doing one of these activities to the Campfire! Enjoy your recess time!