Recess is a very important part of the school day. Children use their recess time to socialize with their friends, expend some of their boundless energy and have some fun. A recess period filled with exciting activities helps the children stay fit and lifts their mood. When they come back into the classroom they are usually happy, relaxed and ready to learn!
However, what are your options when the weather turns bad and the children can no longer play outdoors? Here are 17 indoor recess games that will keep the children entertained when they cannot have recess outdoors. They are great stress relievers for children and will help them enjoy their time in the classroom!
Charades can be enjoyed by children of all ages. It is a creative and social game that really asks children to use their imaginations.
How to play charades with children:
- 1Split the children into two or more teams.
- 2Explain the basic rules of charades to the children if they have never played it before. Consider showing them a few examples.
- 3Choose a player from one team to start the game. They must think of a famous person, movie title, song title or book title. You may wish to limit the topics in some way, for example they might have to use the title of an animated movie they have watched.
- 4The player then performs a pantomime and the audience guesses what it is. The first person to guess the charade scores a point for their team.
Make sure to teach the children the common clues that are used in charades. For example, using fingers to indicate the number of words, pretending to sing to indicate it is a song, or tugging your ear to indicate it “sounds like” something.
Pass the chicken
This game tests the ability of students to think quickly and to remember the things they have learnt in class.
- 1Have the students sit in a circle
- 2Give a random student a rubber chicken (or some other squeaky toy), then ask them a question like “Can you name 5 United States presidents?”
- 3Have the students pass the chicken in a clockwise direction. The first student must answer the question before the rubber chicken makes it all the way around the circle.
- 4If they manage to answer the question in time, the student who is currently holding the chicken must answer the next question. If they don’t answer the question in time, they have to give the chicken a good squeeze and do a chicken dance!
This is a popular indoor recess game that young children love! It is also simple to play:
- 1Designate each of the corner with a number (1 to 4).
- 2Have the children in the class spread out between the 4 corners.
- 3Select one child to sit in the middle and be the first counter. They will close their eyes and count to 10, then they will call out one of the 4 numbers.
- 4The children in that corner will sit down and are out of the game. Children can move between corners while the child in the middle is counting — but they must be standing in a corner before the counter reaches 10.
- 5The last child standing in a corner is the winner!
Select one of the students in the room to be the “searcher”. Have them leave the room for a short period of time while the rest of the class selects a random item in the room to be the “treasure”. The searcher comes back into the room and tries to locate the treasure while students tell them if they are “cold” “getting warmer” or “hot” depending on how close they are to the object.
Split the children into groups and have them build something using lego or craft supplies. The item they build can be decorative or functional. You can even ask the children to build a gadget that achieves a specific task like shooting a ping pong ball across the room. You will be amazed by the creations that children can make with Lego, rubber bands and pop sticks!
If the children make something they are really proud of, be sure to take photographs or video footage of their creation. You can then upload the images to a website so the children can show it to their parents. Constructing items in groups will make the children think creatively, collaborate, and communicate with one another.
This is another simple game that will test the memory of your students!
- 1The teacher writes a category on the chalkboard. For example, foods, places, animals, movies or books.
- 2Students have to think of a word form the category that matches each letter of the alphabet. For example, if the category was food, they could write Apple, Banana, Cucumber and so on. They have 5 minutes to write their list.
- 3The teaches asks the first student for a word from their list which matches a random letter. For example, they might say “Give me a food starting with P”. The student might reply “Pineapple!”.
- 4The next student in the group has to provide a word that ends with the last letter of the previous word — in this case, a word starting with E (the last letter of Pineapple). If the student does not have a matching word on their sheet that they can use, they get 5 seconds to think of another one. If they fail, they are eliminated!
This game will get your children moving, having fun and thinking at the same time! It can easily be adapted to suit children aged anywhere between 5 and 10.
- 1Select one child to be the captain. They will stand at the front of the classroom
- 2The other children will stand in a straight line, facing their captain — they are the ship’s “crew”.
- 3The captain is given a sheet up paper with a list of commands they can use. You should explain and demonstrate each of the commands to the crew.
- 4The captain begins to quickly issue commands to their crew. The crew has to do their best to keep up!
The commands include things like:
- “Scrub the deck” — Quickly get down on hands and knees and pretend to scrub the floor
- “Captain on deck” — The crew must quickly salute the captain
- “Big wave coming” — The crew must run to the back of the room
- “Raise the sails” — The crew pretends to be pulling on a rope
The quicker the captain performs the calls, the more difficult (and fun) the game becomes!
The Animal Game
This is a really simple game that is fun for younger children.
- 1Think of a random animal and tell the class
- 2The students must pretend to be that animal for 30 seconds
- 3You can offer prizes or animal stickers to the most compelling animal!
Toss and Talk
This activity can be great fun and helps the students to learn more about each other. Buy a large plastic ball and write a number of questions on it. For example:
- 1“Who is your favorite celebrity?”
- 2“Do you have a pet?”
- 3“What is your favorite candy?”
- 4“What’s your favorite color?”
Have the students stand in a circle and bounce the ball at one another. When they catch the ball, they have to answer the question on the top!
The 100 Cup Challenge
This game will test the ingenuity of your young students! Split your classroom into groups of 4 or 5 students. Give each group 100 plastic cups. Instruct them to build a structure as tall as possible. You might wish to give teams a time limit or specify some other objective as well — like having the structure support a flag. You could also incorporate a few other building materials like spaghetti, string or sticky tape to give the children a bit more creative freedom.
Don’t fall in the volcano!
This is a simple game that is lot of fun and gives children a chance to use some of their energy. Place pieces of paper on the ground which lead from one side of the room to the other. Have multiple trails, some with the pieces of paper close together, others where they are far apart.
The children must pretend the floor is made of hot lava and the pieces of paper are rocks. They must get from one side of the room to the other using the rocks. If they fall into the lava they are out of the game.
You can make things more interesting by having the children choose their own path. They can choose the hard path with fewer pieces of paper or the easy path. Have the children start at the same time and tell them when they are allowed to move forward. If they have chosen a hard path, they will get to the other side faster but the risk of falling in is higher. You can have the children cross the volcano multiple times until there is only one person left.
Museum Guard Game
This game tests the ability of students to stand still and concentrate.
- 1Select a student to be the “museum guard”. This student stands at the front of the room and face away from the students.
- 2Have the other students pretend to be “exhibitions” at the museum — they can be animals or people. Whenever the guard is not looking the exhibitions can walk around the museum.
- 3When the guard turns around to inspect the exhibitions, the children must immediately stop moving.
- 4The museum guard can select any exhibitions that are moving, talking or laughing. They will be out of the game until the next round.
- 5The last exhibition standing is the winner! They get to be the next museum guard.
This is another simple game that young children absolutely love. It is easy to understand and is guaranteed to generate some laughs.
- 1Nominate a player to be the “doggy”. They stand in the hallway with a friend for a couple of minutes.
- 2Give a random student a plastic dog bone or rubber chicken to hide in their desk or under their chair.
- 3Ask the doggy to come back into the room and look for their bone or chicken. While the doggy is searching, the class sings the doggy doggy song — “Doggy doggy, where’s your bone? Somebody stole it from your home! Guess who! It might be you… It might be the monkey from your zoo!”
- 4The doggy looks at the expressions on the faces of the other children for any hints about who has it. They get three chances to choose the classmate with the toy.
- 5If they are wrong, the child with the toy gets to be the new doggy. If they are right, they get to be the doggy again!
Who is Our Pablo Picasso?
Give the children 15 minutes to create a work of art. It can be a painting, a sculpture, a coloring book image, pipe cleaner jewelry, or a drawing. Once they have finished creating their art works, display them all at the front of the classroom. Have the students vote on their favorite art work and give the student with the most votes a prize!
Some of the best balloon games for indoor recess include:
Keeping balloons floating in the air can be challenging, especially when there are dozens of balloons floating around. You can have free-for-all balloon juggling where all of the kids attempt to keep balloons floating, or split the class into teams. Assign different colors to the teams and tell them they have to corral the balloons of that color into a specific corner of the classroom. If a balloon hits the floor, it can’t be used again. Each team can hit the other team’s balloons in the wrong direction. The team that gets the most balloons into the corner wins! Yes it will be chaos, but it will also be incredible fun for the kids.
Catch the balloon
Have the group stand in a circle and hit the balloon into the air. Call a child’s name at random. They must run into the centre and hit the balloon into the air before it touches the ground. As they hit the balloon, they must call the name of another person in the circle, who will go next. This is a simple game that also works well as an introductory icebreaker.
Balloon balancing races
Students are given a balloon each. They must balance it on one finger and attempt to walk across the room without dropping it. The first to the other side wins!
Split the class into two teams and run a net or piece of string across the middle of the room. Have the teams hit the balloon over the net as if they were playing volleyball. If a team lets the balloon hit the ground, the other team gets a point. The first team to 10 points wins.
Board Games and Card Games
Board games are great fun on a rainy day! Look for board games that are educational, enjoyable, and/or social. Many classic board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Chess, Clue, and Chinese Checkers can help the children develop their cognitive abilities.
You can also teach the children how to play card games like Uno, Poker, Solitaire, Hearts, Bridge or Spades. Most children find learning a new card game interesting and it is useful knowledge that they will have for the rest of their lives.
Young children just love dancing! It’s a great indoor activity that helps the kids in class relax, socialize and have fun. You can simply have the class dance to a few Wiggles songs or play a dancing game.
The most popular dancing games include:
Have the class dance until the music stops — when they have to freeze their current dance pose. You can give out prizes for the funniest frozen dance pose.
A classic game that is still a lot of fun for young children. Set up chairs in a circle around the room and have your students dance their way around the chairs. Have one fewer chair than the number of students currently dancing. When the music stops, they have to scramble for a chair. Students who don’t get a chair are out for the round. Constantly reduce the number of chairs as the number of players shrinks.
We hope you enjoyed reading 17 indoor recess games! These games can make a rainy day an exciting experience for the kids in your class!
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