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Teaching Strategies: 4 Fun Winter Recess Ideas

David Reeves


What do your kids do when it gets too cold to play outside? Do you find that your students are stuck at their desks doing extra work, or have you found some creative teaching strategies to get them active? Kids need the activity and break that recess provides, and without it they cannot do well in school. Here are four ways you can keep recess alive even in the winter.

Teaching Strategies: Let Them Play Outside

Winter does not mean you have to stay inside. With the right winter gear and the right teaching strategies, you can take your class outside to enjoy some fresh air. This is good for your kids, not only for their ability to focus in class but also for their overall health. While you may not be able to stay outside as long as you do on a warm day, you can, and should, enjoy the outdoors when the cold weather hits.

How can you make this happen? Ensure that your students’ parents send proper winter gear for their children. In fact, ask that winter gear stay at school during the school week, then send it home for kids to play outside over the weekend. This will ensure that every student has what is needed for outdoor play. Then, with the right gear, you can take the kids outside even at temperatures below the freezing mark.

Find an Indoor Space for Active Play

If you just can't take the kids outdoors, then consider finding an indoor place for active play. It's far too easy for indoor recess to turn into more inactive activities, like board games and coloring pages.

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If your school is equipped with a gym, you are in good shape, but if it’s not, talk to administration about other options. The activities room, auditorium and even the lunchroom can be places where indoor play can happen. If nothing else, find a less-traveled hallway and set up some active play options.

When you are encouraging active play indoors, you may need organized games. Relay races, kickball, dodge ball (with foam balls) and even jumping rope competitions can all be done indoors. If you provide the structure for the game, the kids will take over, enjoying the break from the classroom-based instruction of the day.

Bring Recess into the Classroom

If other rooms in your school are not available during your normally scheduled recess period, then you are going to have to take care of recess inside your own classroom. Classrooms have limited space, so this requires some creativity. First, have the students move the desks to the edges if possible. Then, set up for some games that get kids moving.

Four corners is a great game to play in the classroom, as it does require movement. For this game, kids run to a corner of the room labeled with the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. The teacher then pulls a craft stick out of a jar filled with sticks containing those numbers. Students in the number that matches the stick are out. Kids run to different corners, and game play continues until only one child remains in the game.

Bridge ball is another fun and safe option. Have your students stand in a circle and make a "bridge" by spreading their legs more than shoulder width apart. The players then try to hit a ball with their open palm so that it rolls between the legs of another player. When the ball goes between the legs of a player, that player is out. Play continues until only two players remain, at which time the two players stand across from each other and continue play.

Take a Winter Nature Walk

If the playground and outdoor play areas are inaccessible, have the kids bundle up and take them on a winter nature walk. You will be surprised at how much they will discover in the winter that would remain unseen in the more lively spring and fall seasons. Your students will benefit from the fresh air as well. Incorporate some science into this activity by making a scavenger hunt for winter nature items out of it.

Remember, kids need time away from the books. Don't use winter weather as an excuse to skip recess. Use these ideas to give kids a break, even when it's cold outside.

About the author:

David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Superior Playgrounds in Carrollton, GA. Superior Playgrounds is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to industries like day care centers, schools and churches. They supply outdoor play equipment and components, including slides, bridges and climbers.

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