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18 Fun Indoor Recess Games to Avoid Rainy Day Slumps

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Students playing games indoors during a recess in class.

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  • Teacher Activities

Dreary weather is unfortunately just a part of the seasons changing. And a lot of times it means that kids are stuck inside even though they are still ready to burst with energy!

To help you get through rainy days when you can’t get your class outside, we’ve gathered together all of our favorite indoor recess games. Here are 18 ideas to help your entire class get those wiggles out during recess time.

18 Refreshing indoor recess activities

There are so many different indoor recess games to choose from. You will be able to find exactly what works best for your class, space and budget. It may be something as simple as tic-tac-toe on a whiteboard or something more elaborate that requires online purchases.

The main purpose of an indoor recess game is to have fun and give students a break during the day. In the long run, it helps with classroom management especially in elementary school since students are better able to focus after recess.

We break down our favorite indoor recess games into four easy-to-reference sections including online games, card games, active games and games for the whole class. Let’s get started! 

Online games for indoor recess time

Online games are a great option for a station with a small group of students if you’re short on space and can’t have your entire class doing a singular activity. 

It can be helpful to create a folder on your class website with apps and online sites that are just for indoor recess time. Here are a few ideas of what you could put in there!

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2. Gaming With Google Slides

During the pandemic, many teachers transformed classic games like Connect 4, Battleship, chess and tic-tac-toe into a Google Slide format. These games were then shareable and able to be played no matter where students were. 

Once you’ve made these once, you can store them on a virtual recess shelf in your classroom management system like a Google Classroom.

These can also be take-home activities that students use when virtually learning with friends and reviewing class material at home.

Check out this tutorial for some inspiration and tips on how to make Google Slides games:

3. Trivia

Many teachers love to use Kahoot! to create quizzes to assess students’ learning. But it can also be used to make just for fun quizzes. 

You can find lots of fun ideas online of topics and questions to add to your game. Some options are Disney Movie trivia or interesting facts about fellow classmates. 

You can also find Jeopardy slide templates online to use as a trivia game.

4. Geoguesser

This browser game places you in a semi-random location, and you must discover where you are in the world with a certain number of clues. You can only use the visible “street view” to figure out where you are. Your score is based on how accurate your guess is.

To take this activity to the next level, have your students sit on carpet squares and pretend they are on a magic carpet ride to the mystery location. 

This is a great game to do in front of the room on a larger screen so the whole class can guess together. Or it can be played by individual students on computers if you have those available. 

5. Drawing tutorial

Incorporate art into recess time by putting a drawing video on for the whole class to follow along with. There are many options online that are geared toward kids and provide step-by-step instructions to draw various characters and animals. 

For students who would rather not draw, you can provide legos for them to also build something creative.  

Cards and board games for indoor recess time

Other options are classic board and card games that are always a hit. They are a great way for students to build fine motor and social skills while having fun. 

6. Board games

Board games like checkers, Candyland and Jenga are not only good fun, but they also help younger children practice fine motor skills by moving the pieces.

There is an ever-growing list of board games on the market so you’re sure to find one that your students will love. A new favorite is Feed the Wozzle, a collaborative game so no one feels left out. It prioritizes social skills to feed the correct number of silly snacks to the Wozzle. You’ll work as a team standing 8-10 feet away to feed it before the snacks run out.

Check out our ultimate list of board games for kids for more ideas!

7. Card games

Much like board games, card games work on fine motor skills by requiring students to hold, flip and shuffle cards. You might choose to make your own card games to work on specific skills or buy popular card games. 

Here are some of our favorite card games for young learners:

  • Spoons: Spoons is a great game for a large group where players sit and take turns passing cards. The goal is to collect four-of-a-kind. Once someone has all four, they grab a spoon. Then, the other player races to grab a spoon. If you’re the last one left without a spoon, you get assigned a letter. The last player to spell out “spoons” wins.
  • Uno: You can play this as instructed where children practice matching numbers and colors. Or you can shake it up during indoor recess and give each color a movement like blue is hop and red is clap. So, each time a student plays a card they must do that action the same number of times as the number on the card. 
  • Go Fish: You can make this classic game harder by introducing different modifications, such as having students ask for a specific suit and value card rather than just any “Queens” for example. Or students can play booklet style and collect one number in all suits.
  • Printable Matching Games: Teachers can find resources online for matching card games for students to practice flipping cards and memory recognition.

Group games for indoor recess time

If you’re looking for ways to get the whole class involved and playing together, look no further!

Even if you have a large class and a small room, there are still group games that might be a great option for indoor recess time.

8. Brain Breaks with GoNoodle

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GoNoodle is a website with hundreds of movement and mindfulness videos that you can play for your class. Many of the videos are freebies, so feel free to pick out several to do. 

You can order them from most active to least active to help students refocus on their work after recess.

9. Charades

Charades is a classic party that can be easily adapted to the classroom. Students take turns mimicking different words and names without speaking. The rest of the students try to guess what they are acting out. 

You can choose categories of words to guess based on what you are currently teaching about, such as animals, historical figures, or book titles.

Learn how to play charades below!

10. Heads Up 7 Up

Heads Up 7 Up is always a hit! To start, you choose 7 students to stand in the front of the room. The rest of the class closes their eyes and puts their heads down and their thumbs up. Each of the 7 selected students will then touch the thumb of one of their classmates. 

When a student has their thumb touched, they will put it down. Once 7 thumbs are down, the teacher says “heads up, 7 up”. The students with their thumbs down guess who touched their thumb. Once they guess correctly, they rotate up to the front of the room to be a ‘picker’ in the next round.

11. Simon Says

Simon Says is a game where the teacher or another student calls out actions that the other students have to follow. Now, the catch is that they are only supposed to follow the direction if it begins with “Simon says...” If a player does something that is not started with “Simon says…” they have to sit down until the next round.

To make it more difficult, vary the speed at which the directions are given or give multiple directions at once. This will make players more likely to act before thinking. 

12. Would You Rather?

There are lots of funny and creative “would you rather” questions to challenge your class to think about some very silly things and cause some laughter.

You can choose to have students line up and ask the “would you rather” questions one-by-one or have the whole class answer each question together. If you choose to do it one by one, you can have students go to a particular side of the room based on their answers.

Asking questions can be a fun way to get students to open up, think creatively and express themselves. If you're looking for another list of questions to ask your students, try out one of these 100+ fun questions of the day that students will enjoy answering!

Games for indoor recess time with physical activity

Physical activities are perfect for indoor recess games since kids end up feeling cooped up when they are stuck inside all day. Physical activities help burn that extra energy so that learners can focus on the lesson after recess time. 

13. Four corners

To set up this game, put a different colored sheet of paper in each corner of the room. Then, one student stands in the middle of the room with their eyes closed while the other students choose one corner to stand in. 

The student in the middle calls out a corner with their eyes still closed. Anyone standing in the called out corner is eliminated.

Here's a quick tutorial that help you can set up a four corners game in your class or recess room:

14. Musical chairs

Most of us have played musical chairs at some point. Simply set up chairs with one less available than there are players. Then play music, and when it stops everyone hurries to a seat. 

If your space is a bit too crowded with the number of chairs you would need, try using laminated cardstock on the ground instead. This method can also help prevent injuries.

15. Balloon volleyball

To play this game, hang a piece of string in the middle of the class to act as the volleyball net. Then, split the class into two teams. Each team must hit the balloon “ball” back and forth keeping it from touching the ground. If the balloon drops, the other side of the net wins a point.

If you want to switch it up, try giving students paper plates to use as paddles.

16. Freeze dance

There is nothing better than a good dance party!

Try turning on your favorite kid-friendly playlist and have the students dance out their wiggles. Then stop the music every so often. To make it into a game, say that any student still dancing when the music stops is out.

You can also make this more fun by having your students dance like something specific, like an animal, robot or something that’s really cold.

17. Hot/Cold

For this game, you will hide a treasure somewhere in the classroom while one student, the treasure hunter, waits outside. 

Then the treasure hunter returns to the room and the rest of the class gives them clues to the treasure by indicating if they are hot or cold. Hot means they are close while cold means they are further away.

18. Movement Memory

In this group game, each student can choose a movement to add to a chain of movements. For example, Student 1 may jump. Then Student 2 will jump then clap their hands. Next, Student 3 jumps, claps, and skips. See how many students can copy the chain without making a mistake.

Enjoy recess time whether rain or shine

While indoor recess time is not quite the same, there are still lots of ways to make it fun. Many great game options exist regardless of limitations on space, budget or time. Reference back to our list whenever you need some new ideas for a rainy day. 

Prodigy can be a great tool to keep students occupied and learning on days when they can’t go outside. This game-based learning platform was designed to fit right into what you are teaching in the classroom. And it adapts to what a student is working on to address problem areas without any extra work from you. 

Best of all, it’s free to create a teacher account today!

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