As the school year winds down and the weather gets warmer, we tend to give students more opportunities to go out for recess. In case you haven’t noticed, kids don’t know how to play anymore, especially when they have the freedom to choose what they want to do. They hang around the teachers or sit along the wall instead of moving and exploring.
If you have noticed these behaviors, it’s time to teach them group recess games we played when we were youngsters. Here are a few I suggest that are quick and easy to teach and learn!
While there a many variations, I suggest bringing sidewalk chalk outside one day and showing the students how to draw a basic one. You draw 8 to 10 squares in a linear pattern. Some may be double-wide. Number the squares from low to high.
Start by throwing a small stone or stick into the first/closest square. If it lands on the line or outside the box, it is the next person’s turn. If it lands inside the box, hop on one foot into the first empty box and continue this pattern all the way to the end (one foot per square for the double-wide sets), and make your way back.
When you reach the square with the marker in it, pause and pick it up, and then hop back to the beginning. Students can continue on until they are out or take turns every time.
This activity requires a bouncy ball about 8-10 inches in diameter. Similar to hopscotch, the play area can be drawn with sidewalk chalk. Draw one large square, divided into four equal squares. The large square can be 10 to 20 feet per side. Four people can play at one time.
One person stands in each square (labeled 1-4). The goal is to inhabit the top square (#4 in this case). Play begins with the person in square 4 serving the ball to another square. The goal is not to allow the ball to bounce twice in your square and to hit it into another square. If the ball hits a line or if a player cannot return the ball, that player moves down to 1 or joins the line to play. Everyone moves up one square.
Three Line Soccer
Designate a small area of play with two goals and three cones set up on one side. Students line up behind the cones. The first person in each line steps onto the field as Team 1. The next person in line at each cone steps onto the field as Team 2. The teams play 3 vs 3 soccer until someone scores or 2 minutes passes.
The scoring team can stay on the field and the next students in line come on as the next team. Play continues. If time runs out with no goal scored, both teams leave the field with two new teams entering. If a team wins three times in a row, they leave the field to give others a chance.
The ultimate goal is to get the students moving so they can burn off energy, have fun with peers, and find activities they enjoy. If you have other group games you played at recess as a child, try incorporating them, keeping in mind that maximum participation is the idea. Happy spring!
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.