What is the Purpose of Recess?

  • Actively engage students - allow for play
  • Provide a break from the classroom (academic learning, sedentary activities) so there is improved mental focus when returning
  • Increased PA levels
  • Social development (friendship, leadership, respect for others, etc.)

  • "Go-stop" signals
  • Self-Space
  • Boundaries
  • Equipment - where to get it and what to do with it when you are finished

Organizational Management:

  • Review management protocols often
  • Teach the games that will be available ahead of time
  • Recess should be a semi-structured environment - activities are planned but children have choices
  • Set up stations with activities and let children know before recess begins, what stations will be available that day
  • Change activities often (day to day, week to week, etc.)
  • Use markers to designate stations, games, etc.
  • Create a system for designating leaders for activities
  • Create a system for designating leaders to help with equipment
  • Place equipment in appropriate areas ahead of time if possible
  • Consistently use the same "go-stop" signals


Strategies for Recess in Schools (2017). CDC and SHAPE America publication https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/pdf/2016_12_16_SchoolRecessStrategies_508.pdf

Recess Planning in Schools: A guide to putting strategies for recess into practice (2017). CDC and SHAPE America publication https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/pdf/2016_12_16_SchoolRecessPlanning_508.pdf

Recess Moves: A Toolkit for Quality Recess, Minnesota Department of Education http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/storage/Recess_Moves_A_Toolkit_for_Quality_Recess.pdf

Increasing Physical Activity Through Recess, Active Living Research

60 Alternatives to Withholding Recess

Example Recess Schedule of Activities

Sample 6-8 Drop-in / Break Activities:

Rhythmic activities (need portable music source) - Double Dutch Rope Jumping, Jump Bands, Popular Line Dances

Manipulative Games / Practice - Walking, Running, Boccu Ball, Badminton, Volleyball, Basketball, Disc Golf, Corn Hole

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