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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.