This time of the year, our students can get a bit antsy when the snow, rain, and wind prevent them from going outside for their play breaks. In California, we have had a dry spell this winter. Here's to hoping there's some rain coming soon. But in the Midwest and on the east coast, I know many of you have been getting pounded.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite indoor alternative recess activities. Some are more up to date than others, but I think they are all better than watching a moving for 15 minutes. I mean, that's not even long enough of a time to get to the good parts...
Along with the activities, I'll share some performance skills that each work on so that you can justify to others why they might want to try these activities rather than putting on a movie.
Again, to be completely transparent, some of these links are affiliate links which me at no additional cost to you, the OT School House
So let's just right into it.
Two years ago my mom had my 2 sisters and I open a fun Christmas gift at the same exact time...
You can imagine what ensued as all 3 of us 25+ year olds opened our own pack of snowballs. It was the most EPIC snowball fight to ever occur in a place it rarely snows. If you have frequent inside recesses, you can invest in these snowballs here. Otherwise, you can have the students crumple up some paper, preferably scrap paper.
Both methods work on visual tracking and gross motor planning skills, but crumpling up the paper also works on some bilateral hand skills and strengthening.
I'm sure most of you have heard of GoNoodle by now. It's a website full of videos that can be used during alternative recesses, PE, or even cool down/warm-ups before and after a test. I especially like the Moose Tube videos
GoNoodle works on so many skills. Praxis, bilateral integration, balance, imitation, social skills, Rhythm and many more.
Looking for some dance moves that are more individualized than GoNoodle? The RWID program and the Dance In A Box flash cards (1-2-3 Dance and Hip Hop in a Box) give teachers and students the opportunity to develop their own dance routine! The cards also allow for the option to modify the moves for students who may not be able to participate fully.
I recommend checking Rhythm Works out at RhytymWorksID.com I currently run a weekly group with a class of children with moderate to severe disabilities and the teacher, students, and aides all love the program.
My personal favorite as a kid, 4 Corners is an iconic rainy day game that works on more skills than you might think. The Corner picker has to rely on auditory, tactile, and even proprioceptive input from the floor vibrating through their legs to identify which corner the most students may be in.
The other students roaming from corner to corner learn about to self-regulate during a rather heightened arousal level game. Social and problem-solving skills are also tested as children learn to pick the corner least likely to be picked.
5. Arts and Crafts Table
With so many schools cutting back on the arts, an indoor recess can be a beneficial alternative to a movin' and groovin' recess. Slime making or letting kids create and solve their own paper mazes can be fun ways to work on fine motor, visual motor, and planning skills
Oh, and don't forget that sometimes the process is more important than the product. A student who creates his own craft will typically be more proud of his/her own creation than a creation completed mostly by an adult.
You don't have to be at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) School to bring in some building materials. Below are some fun building materials that can be purchased for relatively cheap considering how long they will last. They all help to build fine motor, copying, planning, and hand strengthening.
Be sure to encourage your students to both follow picture directions and create their own designs. Both methods work on separate important processing skills instrumental to learning.
Brain Flakes ($12.99)
7. Escape Room/Box
This one is for the creative teachers out there that perhaps like to build and design things themselves.
Set up a scavenger hunt for your students in your room to find clues and secret keys to open a treasure box or door. Incorporate mastered academic problems or history buff clues to make it extra meaningful. Purchase this Magic Box ($11.99) to make your students feel like they just found the "National Treasure"
I have not yet tried this one, but it would be fun to collaborate with a teacher to create this. If only we had rainy days here in SoCal... (Doing my rain dance right now)
So that's 7 OT School House approved indoor recess activities. Of course, there are many more we could include, but I think this provides a good starting point. What do think of our games? Would you create an escape box? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook. Or share with us what your go-to indoor recess activities are or even what your favorite was growing up.
Until next time,