Resources

If you are like us, you are you are always looking for new ways to use play as an educator. Explore what’s working in schools across the country.

No matter how long you’ve been making learning playful, there is always more to discover. We hope that our collective learning can add to your toolkit. Playworks has helped educators get kids playing for more than 20 years. While we got our start at recess, teachers tell us that the games and strategies we share are lifesavers in the classroom as well. We’ve assembled our best below. Enjoy!

 

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We’re Opening Up Our Playbook

Recess Lab is a new project of Playworks, designed to help principals and teachers re-discover the power of play. We’re sharing tools and games that develop kids’ social skills, on and off the playground, and offering a Recess Checkup—a brief online quiz—so schools know how they’re doing.

Explore Recess Lab

Visit recesslab.org to explore our newest resources and share with a school near you.

Visit Recess Lab

Explore our Games Library

Need a game for 30 kindergarteners, indoors, in a pinch? Trying to convince 5th graders to share the basketball court? We have you covered.

  • Large Group (10 and up)

  • Ages 6-10

  • None

  1. Recess Games
  2. Tag Games

Mannequin Tag ›

Play this fun group game to help develop cooperation and listening skills.

  • Large Group (10 and up)

  • Ages 6-10

  • Bean Bags

  • 10 minutes or more

  1. Cooperative Games
  2. Indoor Game

Let’s Go Fishing ›

This game promotes team building and many skills such as problem-solving, leadership, cooperation, teamwork, listening, creative thinking and conflict resolution.

Children balancing in Ants on Log game
Children balancing in Ants on Log game
  • Large Group (10 and up)

  • Ages 3-5

  • None

  • 10 Minutes

  1. Cooperative Games
  2. Indoor Game

Ants on a Log ›

Practice teamwork and communication in this fun game of strategy and balance! Students will work together to change positions without knocking any of their teammates off of the line.

Tools & Tips

kids playing
kids playing

August 11, 2022

10 Creative Cooldown Breathing Activities ›

Just take a deep breath. You’ve probably heard it before, or even instructed your students to try it when things start to get out of control. Inhale, exhale, relax. Breathing exercises can be helpful to cool the body back down after an exciting game, diffuse tension after a conflict, or just recharge and refocus. To…

students in circle playing game with ball
students in circle playing game with ball

August 17, 2022

Helping kids to find new friends and feel included ›

Play is a natural, safe way that kids can interact with people who are different and rejoice by achieving shared goals. Interacting with people who are different at a young age is good for kids. To make sure that kids have the opportunity to play with peers outside of their normal groups, adults or youth…

two girls playing rock paper scissors
two girls playing rock paper scissors

August 17, 2022

Empowering Kids to Create Their Own Happiness ›

By Playworks and UNICEF Kid Power® When kids’ minds and bodies get active, either while playing or participating in service learning, they experience physical and mental benefits (and support positive academic behaviors). One of the most important social-emotional outcomes is experiencing joy. Educators and families have risen to the challenge of ensuring kids get social-emotional…

woman and child on playground
woman and child on playground

August 17, 2022

Approaching Hard Conversations with Kids ›

Kids notice when adults around them are feeling stress, pressure, anxiety, or concern.  Between changes in daily life stemming from COVID-19, the racial justice movement, political divisiveness, financial pressures, and more, kids are noticing when adults around them may be feeling different emotions. They don’t always know what to do about it or have the…

woman and two children doing yoga pose on mats outdoors
woman and two children doing yoga pose on mats outdoors

October 6, 2020

Using Play to Foster Social Connections and Physical Activity ›

Play isn’t just fun and games – it’s a vital aspect of our health and well-being. When we play, we engage our bodies, minds, and senses, creating opportunities for increased physical activity, learning, and connection with others. Play can even help relieve stress and support the development of important social-emotional skills, including communication and cooperation.…

Brain Break Game: Up Down Stop Go
Brain Break Game: Up Down Stop Go

January 28, 2019

10 Brain Breaks That Will Help Your Students Refocus ›

It’s that time of day. Your students are restless, perhaps due to the weather. You can see their eyes glazing over as you review decimals and fractions—for the third time this week. The room is stuffy, and everyone is tired. Students move to their tables and begin their group work, when suddenly, you hear loud…

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…

November 13, 2018

5 Ways to Make Your Playworks Recess a Success ›

In 2017, Playworks and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) partnered to learn more about how effective recess teams drive strong quality and recess outcomes. Close your eyes and picture the best recess you can imagine. What does that look like to you? A quality recess is one that is safe, engaging, and empowering. Play…

Children actively playing during recess
Children actively playing during recess

September 3, 2019

Proactively Manage Your Classroom ›

Keeping the attention of energetic kids is challenging. But, it’s also an opportunity to build relationships and have some fun. Take a proactive approach to group management with these tips: Get creative with secret handshakes One-on-one conversations, silly claps, cheers, get-to-know-you games, and compliments are great ways to build rapport and mutual respect. Consider learning…

Playworks games help develop emotional intelligence
Playworks games help develop emotional intelligence

April 20, 2017

6 Ways to Improve Social Skills at Recess ›

Help kids practice social skills throughout the day, not just in class.

February 16, 2017

Five Transitions to the Classroom So Kids are Ready to Learn ›

Save valuable class time by using fun activities to get kids from the playground or lunchroom to the classroom.

October 21, 2011

Four Conflict Resolution Techniques for School Children ›

Teaching kids to resolving conflicts build confident, empowered youth.

The Great Recess Framework

The Great Recess Framework is an observational tool designed to help educators and researchers evaluate and plan school recess with a holistic approach.

While physical activity levels are certainly one element of a successful recess, other aspects such as safety, adult engagement, communication, autonomy, and inclusion have often been overlooked. The Great Recess Framework observational tool was developed by practitioners at Playworks and researchers at Oregon State University. We encourage the use of ​our work for educational and research purposes. Download the GRF.

For researchersFor Educators

 

Funding and Grants

We hope these resources may help you find available grants and write a compelling application to support Playworks services.

 

Grant Resources

Find resources that could help you bring Playworks to your organization.

Grant Writing Assistance

Check out tips, sample Playworks narratives, and evidence-based research to help you write a successful grant application.