Checklist: Back to School, Back to Recess

  1. Updates
  2. Recess
  3. Recess Equipment
  4. Recess Games
  5. Soccer
  6. Switch
  7. Tag
  8. transitions

As teachers are preparing lesson plans, learning new curriculum, and setting up their classrooms, it is time to start prepping our collective classroom: the playground. Recess deserves back to school planning just like any other classroom. In fact, a recent Robert Woods Johnson Foundation brief recommends that schools,

Treat recess plans like lesson plans. Like classrooms, recess needs a leader and a plan for organization, conflict resolution, interactions, and transition. Supporting children’s natural desire to play is critical so that they have the opportunity to engage in activities that will aid their overall development.”

Recess supervisors have an incredible opportunity to make recess a fun, safe, healthy part of the school day. Here is a checklist for back to school:

 

Map your playground.

Think back to last year’s injuries or conflicts. Is one corner of the field always a muddy hazard? Do tag games always spill into the basketball court? Before the school year starts, mark spaces for popular games and spaces that are off-limits. Post a recess map and do a first-week-back walk through so students know their boundaries.

Check your equipment.

Kickballs have a funny habit of deflating or disappearing over fences. Take the time to pump up balls and inventory any supply needs. The Playworks “recess kit” can be a helpful checklist; these are the most-used items on Playworks’ playgrounds.

Set expectations.

Fidget spinners? Pokemon Go? What should students not bring to the playground? While you won’t know this Black Friday’s must-have item, you can get ahead of the game with a letter setting recess expectations in back-to-school packets. While you are at it, educate parents on the importance of opportunities for active play at recess so they can be proud of what your school is doing right.

Prepare your recess “lessons”.

Consider introducing a “game of the week” during PE class, assemblies, or as an option at recess. Introducing games throughout the year helps kids discover new ways to have fun (and get their heart rates up!). Here are 5 to start the school year off right:

  • Switch is a simple rotational game for students of all ages.
  • Foursquare is a classic with as many variations as there are kids; make sure new kids know a common set of rules so everyone can play together.
  • Three Lines Soccer is 3-on-3 soccer with a rotation that allows more kids to play.
  • Around the World is a basketball shooting game in which kids take turns.
  • Bandaid Tag is a simple tag game kids can learn quickly and jump in to play.

Practice transitions.

Lining up gracefully after recess can be a challenge. Consider leading a cheer (like the Banana cheer) or playing a game (like Land, Sea, Air) while kids line up. Then change the mood with a cooldown:

  • Volcano breaths: have students take deep breaths to cool down before returning to class.
  • Recess hats → Classroom hats: have students take off their imaginary recess hats and put on their imaginary classroom hats to create a mental transition.

Lace up your kicks.

New research suggests that playing with students at recess is an incredible opportunity for adults to build trust with students. Adult engagement is especially important for kids who may not have playful role models outside of school.

And of course . . . make a bulletin board.

Post recess rules (or your school’s shared expectations), a map of your playground, how to play the game of the week, and anything else kids may need to know. Does your school have a Buddy Bench or a Peace Path? Include an FYI for new students. Share your board with us on Pinterest!

 

Want more strategies?

Sign up now for a free 15-minute strategy call and learn how Playworks can support your school.

More Updates


December 5, 2019

Playworks named in Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in Oakland in 2019 ›

Playworks has been featured as one of Great Nonprofits 10 Top Volunteer Opportunities in Oakland in 2019. Thanks to our fans for your support! The list was compiled based on volunteers’ and interns’ favorite Oakland charities. Every nonprofit on this list earned an overall score of 4 or greater out of 5 on GreatNonprofits.org. “My…

Indoor recess
Indoor recess

December 5, 2019

Make the Most of Indoor Recess ›

By the time winter break comes, many schools have had more indoor recess than planned. Even if some students are accustomed to snow and frigid temperatures, the weather can sometimes still prevent outdoor play. Educators feel the effect of being confined to indoor recess just like their students, but they know play is important for…

December 4, 2019

Oregon State University Study Finds High-Quality Recess Positively Impacts Student Behaviors ›

A recent study by the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Services found that high-quality recess contributes to the executive function, emotional self-control, resilience, and positive classroom behavior in elementary school children. While past studies explored the benefits related to the amount of recess time, this is the first study to address…