Today's guest blogger Khary Jackson is a program coordinator for Playworks in Twin Cities, Minnesota. Khary is a Detroit native and is a performance poet and musician when he is not working with Playworks. He is loving this mild winter, as a reprieve from last year's. His favorite recess game is 21 Basketball.
As a Playworks program coordinator, part of my job is to inspire kids to do something I'm honestly not motivated to do myself: play outside in winter. The fresh air, sunlight and space to run, however, is great for our health. Here are just a few ways to not only survive winter recess, but make it legitimately fun.
1) Dress wisely. Frankly, it’s tough for summer lovers like myself to surrender to the cold. But while it may feel good to effectively stick our tongues out at Old Man Winter, in the long run it's better to just give in and buy what we need. Gloves, ear muffs, scarf and of course boots and a coat should be daily items. Parents might consider a couple of trips to the second hand store for snow clothes. Kids grow quickly so there's a good chance you can find nearly-new gear if you start looking early in the season. (See more winter gear tips.)
2) Address snow safety. Kids are naturally inclined to ball up a clump of snow and hurl it at other kids' faces. It's just in their nature. Snow ball throwing can be hard to keep safe on playgrounds with 100 or more students. However, there are several other activities, such as snow castles, snowmen/women and more. They just need to remember that schools are pro-safety, not anti-snow.
3) Adapt games as needed. Tag games are a favorite on school playgrounds across the country, but significant snowfall slows games down. Kids can lose interest if they have to cover the same distance to tag people, but WAY slower. I’d get bored, too. Decreasing the size of the tag area with your boundary markers helps a lot with keeping kids engaged with tag games.
4) Stay determined. This is the main factor that influences winter recess. It's the will and determination to make play fun in spite of the cold. I've actually used this language with third graders to get them going, with some success. Yeah it's cold, but we don't care. It's time to play!
How do you make outdoor play fun on snowy days?