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35 Fun Ideas for Indoor Recess Games

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Indoor recess; it’s a love/hate relationship that many teachers and kids experience year after year!  Us teachers might be happy to get out of recess duty, but we still have to come up with activities to do indoors.  The kids might be happy to not  go out in the freezing cold, or to have a break from the crazy heat, but they don’t want to sit an watch another movie in the classroom.

Indoor recess doesn’t have to be difficult.  In fact, I’m here to share these 35 fun ideas for indoor recess games to help you out!

This upcoming school year, especially with social distancing in schools, recess may look different than normal.  To help socially distance the kids during recess, admins may allow a certain number of kids outside, while keeping the others indoors – then alternating each day.   Either way, let’s be prepared for the days when recess is indoors with these fun games and activities.

Indoor Recess Games

Playing games is a great way to get to know your students.  They forget about the academic stresses, and have fun!  When they are having fun, talking with friends, and laughing, they tend to open up more.  This gives you an opportunity to get to know them better and build a positive rapport.

  • Hot Potato
  • The Hot/Cold Game: Choose a student to go out into the hall while another student hides an object in the room. When the student comes back into the classroom, the kids will shout hot, warmer, or cold, depending on how close the child is to the missing object.
  • ZingoIf you are an early childhood educator, caregiver, or a parent with kids ages 4-8, this is a must-have game for kids.
  • Connect 4
  • Memory Matching
  • Tallest Tower Challenge:  I learned about this simple, fun, game from my friend, Allie, from Allie the Gypsy Teacher.  She said to break the kids up into groups.  Give each group a box of random supplies for building.  Give the kids a set amount of time to see which group can build the tallest tower.
  • The Floor Is Lava!
  • Stacking Cups
  • Jenga

Card Games for Indoor Recess

I have found kids of all ages love playing cards.  There are a ton of card games that kids can play in small groups or with a partner.

Some of my students favorite indoor recess card games include:


Indoor Movement Activities

  • Freeze dance
  • Limbo
  • Yoga and stretching:  These free Cosmic Kids Yoga videos are great for kids yoga!
  • GoNoodle:  This is a free website with interactive videos and games. For indoor recess activities, you can choose several, starting with the most active to release the energy then ending with a calming video to help re-focus.  My friend, Jessica, from Primary Parade, highly recommend GoNoodle.
  • Musical Chairs
  • Twister

Toys for Indoor Recess

I’m sure we can all agree that there are days when you simply don’t have the energy to monitor board games, or lead a freeze dance competition.  Or, even if we have the energy, it’s likely we need the extra time to finish assessments.  In fact, my friend Patti, from Reading Waves, said this is one of the reasons why she loves indoor recess…to finish assessments!  Either way, if you’re too exhausted, or simply need time to assess, you can refer to your toy bins for indoor recess ideas.

My friend Jackie, from Roots and Wings Kindergarten, has an entire collection of tub toys that she loves using for indoor recess to promote open-ended play.  They are organized and stored in cubbies that are easily accessible for the kids.

Here is a list of fun toys for indoor recess:

  • Legos
  • Duplo Classic Building Set:  These are the larger version of legos – perfect for smaller hands
  • PlaydohAdd the Playdoh accesories to extend their creativity and keep building those fine motor skills!
  • Cardboard Building Blocks:  I had these for over 10 years in my kindergarten classroom.  They are awesome, because they aren’t as loud and are more safe than wooden blocks, and they last FOREVER!
  • Slime:  Setting out a tub full of slime is a kids’ sensory heaven!  I don’t recommend having them make their own slime during indoor recess, but I highly suggest having a tub full of different slime for them to play with.
  • Flower Garden Building Toys
  • Tinker Toys:  This set of building toys should be in every classroom and playroom across the country!
  • Construction Engineering Building Blocks
  • Brain Flakes Interlocking DiscsThese STEM toys are an awesome alternative to your traditional building toys!  Kids love them, and they are plastic..which means they are easy to sanitize!
  • Zoobs
  • Pattern Blocks Jigsaw Puzzle:  This set comes in a metal tin which makes it great for storage and cleanup.  A few sets of these would be perfect to toss in a puzzle tub.  The kids can work on them independently or with a partner.
  • K’Nex
  • Magnetic Blocks:  Kids absolutely love these magnetic building blocks!  I keep adding to our collection to keep the creativity flowing!

Sensory Bins Ideas for Indoor Recess

Last, but not least, another idea for indoor recess is to set out sensory bins.  You don’t need a sensory table – just a few buckets to fill with sensory items.

Here are some items to include in your sensory bin buckets:

Sensory tubs are great, because you can easily swap out the items for your favorite theme, and include learning activities for center time.

If you’re looking for more sensory bin ideas, I highly suggest checking out the Ultimate Sensory Box.  My friend, Amanda, from Sparkling in Primary, is a kindergarten teacher and momma of 2.  She created this subscription box to save moms and teachers time, and help keep learning fun for kids.

Check out her Ultimate Sensory Box below.  Use the discount code: LITTLELEARNINGCORNER to get 10% off your sensory box subscription!

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Before you go, here are a few blog posts you may enjoy:

5 Tips for Starting Centers in Kindergarten

The Best Tip for Cut & Paste Activities

5 Tips for the Best Number Talks

115 Top Picks for Poem of the Day

ABC Board Games for Preschoolers

Learning Through Play with Magnets

The Best Cooperative Board Games for Kids

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Indoor Recess