10-Minute Recess Breaks for Remote Learners

A backyard swing set becomes an obstacle course with a little creativity. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
A backyard swing set becomes an obstacle course with a little creativity. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
10/18/20 - By Jody Mercier

Any parent cooped up with remote learners since March can attest to how difficult it is to get through a day of on-screen schooling. Gone are the favorite subjects—lunch and recess—replaced instead by tech problems and computer crashes. But it doesn't have to be this way. While you might not have time to supervise a 45-minute midday play session, it's much easier to work a 10-minute recess break (or multiple breaks!) into a child's day.

If you're looking for more active play ideas, be sure to see our post on indoor exercise games and explore our Homeschool and Remote Learning Resources Guide for more tips and tricks to get through these unusual school days.


"To be able to maintain attention and use problem-solving skills, activities should challenge different parts of the brain throughout the day," says Emma Jane Watson, a licensed clinical social worker, and writer for Choosing Therapy. "Learning to count or read uses the cerebrum, but it needs a break to refocus and remain creative. Playing tag or kicking a ball brings the cerebellum on board and gets the muscles moving and heart pumping. To stay healthy, every part of the body needs to be engaged every day!"

With that in mind, we've rounded up 40 10-minute recess breaks for kids. No matter whether you're living in a small apartment or have a sprawling suburban compound, we've got an idea to spice up your remote recess game. Most of these activities can be performed without supervision, though a little screen break might do parents some good, too.

RELATED: 6 Easy Indoor Fort Ideas to Make With Kids

Little girl enjoys a dance break
Calling for a dance break is sure to bring a smile to your little learner's face. Photo by author

10-Minute Remote Learning Recess Breaks to Enjoy Indoors

1. My daughter's personal favorite: Crank up the music and have a dance party. If you cringe at your child's music, Bluetooth headphones make a silent disco possible!

2. Get extra silly, pause the music, and play freeze dance.

3. Grab a deck of UNO cards and assign each color a movement: For example, red (run in place); yellow (spin in circles); green (hop up and down); blue (balance on one foot). Take turns drawing cards and performing the motions. Skip cards can send you skipping down the hallway, and Reverse can have you walking in circles backward. Draw one of those dreaded Draw Two or Draw Four cards, and you'll be stringing a series of movements together.

4. Who remembers "Red Light, Green Light?" Have kids take turns being the stoplight and attempting to sneak up on their siblings.

5. Play Simon Says.

kids exercising inside
Have the kids do some old-school PE class moves. Photo by Sara M. 

6. Go old-school with some gym movements: Try jumping jacks, pushups, or crunches.

7. Stop! And do the Hokey Pokey.

8. Do yoga. You can find kid-friendly routines on YouTube or sign up for online classes at your favorite local studio.

9. Invest in an indoor trampoline.

RELATED: 50 Indoor Activities for a Rainy Day

Kids giggle atop a pile of couch cushions
Throw the couch cushions on the floor for a makeshift trampoline and plenty of giggles. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

10. No space for a trampoline? Just throw the couch cushions on the floor for an occasional jump fest.

11. Watson suggests getting the wiggles out with animal actions. Start big: Shake like a wet dog; snap like a crocodile, jump like a kangaroo, etc. End small (and quiet and ready to work again): Kiss like a fish, float to the ground like a feather, sway like a tree in a soft breeze.

12. Make up an on-the-fly scavenger hunt and send the kids searching for common household items.

13. Sing "Head, and Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and perform the arm movements.

list of exercises
This 7-minute workout is silly, fun, and functional. Photo courtesy of He's Extraordinary

14. Perform a kid-friendly version of the popular 7-minute workout.

15. Another Watson pick: Sardines. "Hide and seek is a standard for outdoors, but playing Sardines, a reverse hide and seek is better inside the house. One person hides, and everyone else separately and quietly tries to find and join them until the last person is squeezed into the hiding place."

16. Grab a dice and try your luck at this exercise game.

17. Tie them up in knots with a game of Twister.

RELATED: Toys Sure to Entertain Children for Hours and Hours Again and Again

girl hula hoops inside indoors
Go for a hula hoop record. Photo by Ally Noel

18. Grab a hula hoop and have them shimmy 'til they're tired.

19. If you've done any Amazon shopping lately, you just might have some bubble wrap lying around. Spread it on the floor and let the kids experiment with what movements pop the bubbles by walking, crawling, rolling, and generally getting their wiggles and giggles out.

20. Watch out: The floor is lava! Throw the kids a lifeline with a blanket or pillow here and there, and have them avoid stepping on the carpet at all costs!

21. Blow up a balloon or a beach ball and toss it around the room, working to ensure it stays off the floor. Remember...the floor is lava!

22. When you've run out of ideas, let GoNoodle takeover for a few minutes.

RELATED: 10 Outdoor Games from the '70s that It’s Time To Teach Your Kids

kids playing soccer in the grass
Get a ball, any ball, and head outside for a few minutes of intense play. Photo by Sara M.

10-Minute Remote Learning Recess Breaks to Enjoy Outside

23. Kick a soccer ball around.

24. Play a game of catch.

25. Toss a football back and forth.

kids playing with bubbles on a deck
Play pop the bubble for a quick school break. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

26. Blow bubbles and let the kids chase them and pop them.

27. Jump rope. Bonus points if you can teach kids to turn double dutch.

28. Got a big family? Send them out for a game of tag.

RELATED: 15 Backyard Science Experiments for Messy Fun

girl jumping on pogo stick on the sidewalk
Set a new record for most jumps on a pogo stick. Photo by the author

29. Hop on a pogo stick.

30. Give your child a magnifying glass and send them on a backyard investigation. What will they spy through that magnified eye?

31. Turn your backyard swing set into a Ninja-warrior like obstacle course.

girl drawing with chalk on the sidewalk
Head outside to beautify the driveway or sidewalk. Photo by Ally Noel

32. Craft a sidewalk chalk masterpiece.

33. Paint with water: the deck, the bikes, the side of the house; the possibilities are endless, and the mess is nonexistent.

34. Play hide-and-seek.

RELATED: Indoor and Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids (Cute Printables!)

two boys climb a tree
Find a tree to climb and maybe take a break at the top. Photo by Sara M.

35. Climb a tree.

36. Send them out to shoot hoops or play a game of H-O-R-S-E.

37. Jump on a classic trampoline.

two boys ride bikes
Hop on a bike for a quick ride. Photo by Sara M.

38. Go for a jog, scoot, bike ride, or walk around the block.

39. Draw up some old-school games: Consider hopscotch or four square.

40. Play cornhole or beanbag toss.