6 Fun Indoor Recess Activities That Kids Will Actually Like

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Recess is a vital part of the school day, offering children a much-needed brain break. This pause from concentrated learning helps children refresh their brains, preparing them for the rest of the day. However, inclement weather or other constraints sometimes prevent students from going outside, making indoor recess activities a necessity. This can present a unique challenge for teachers who need to keep kids active, engaged, and entertained within the confines of a classroom. 

However, indoor recess doesn’t have to be a compromise. In fact, it can be an opportunity to explore a variety of brain breaks for classrooms that can help children engage in physical activity while also stimulating their creativity, enhancing their social skills, and providing an essential mental break.

Here are 6 indoor recess activities to help make the most of your students’ time indoors. 

Key Takeways

Indoor recess activities can allow students to engage their brains in different ways than they can on a playground. 

Brain breaks such as recess are essential to help maintain and improve cognitive, emotional, and social functioning throughout the day.

Indoor recess activities can focus on physical activities, creative activities, and even social activities.

The Importance of Indoor Activities 

Indoor activities can play a crucial role in a child’s development and well-being. This is especially true when outdoor play isn’t an option due to weather or other circumstances. Indoor activities ensure that children remain physically active, mentally stimulated, and socially engaged. 

Ideas for Physical Indoor Recess Activities

Keeping children physically active during indoor recess can be a challenge. However, it is essential for their health and well-being. Physical activities help expend energy, improve coordination, and enhance focus and mood. This is true even when these activities are confined to a small or indoor space such as a classroom.

These are engaging and fun activities that can be easily implemented indoors. This ensures that children stay active, healthy, and entertained, no matter how the weather looks outside. 

kids playing tug of war
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Simon Says

“Simon Says” is a classic game that children of all ages can enjoy. It can also be easily played indoors, making it the perfect indoor recess activity to utilize on a rainy day. “Simon Says” combines physical activity with listening skills and quick thinking. It also requires no special equipment and can be played in any indoor space, from the classroom to the gym. 

One of the best parts of “Simon Says” as an example of indoor recess activities is how easily it can be tailored to different age groups. For older children, you can increase the complexity of this game by adding additional challenges. This can help keep them just as engaged as younger children. Examples of challenges to add include complex or multi-step commands, additional trick commands, and speed rounds.

The benefits of playing “Simon Says” can include:

  • Encouraged physical activity
  • Improved coordination and motor skills
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Boosted cognitive flexibility
  • Better memory and focus
  • Encouraged cooperation and social interaction
  • Bolstered confidence and self-control.

Musical Chairs

Musical chairs is a lively and entertaining game that is perfect for indoor recess. It combines fun music, movement, and quick reflexes, making it a favorite among children of all ages. Musical chairs can also be easily played in a classroom since chairs are already readily available. This fun game’s simple setup and minimal requirements make it easy to organize and play in almost any indoor space. 

The benefits of musical chairs can include:

  • Physical activity
  • Improved coordination and motor skills
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Fostered quick reflexed
  • Encouraged social interaction
  • Improved sportsmanship
  • Fun and enjoyment

Ideas for Creative Indoor Recess Activities

Although physical activity is important for children’s health and energy, indoor recess activities don’t have to only focus on fun games and moving around. A recess spent in the classroom instead of outside can also offer a great opportunity to tap into children’s creativity and imagination. 

Creative activities are not only fun but also essential for cognitive and emotional development. They provide an outlet for self-expression, boost problem-solving skills, and can transform a brain break into an engaging experience. Below, discover a variety of creative indoor recess activities to help ensure children remain stimulated and entertained while nurturing their artistic abilities. 

kids coloring and smiling during indoor recess activities
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Drawing Activities

Children of all ages can enjoy time set aside for drawing and coloring. Drawing is a versatile and accessible activity that can captivate children’s imaginations and enhance their artistic skills. These activities require minimal supplies and can be readily adapted to suit various age groups and skill levels. 

Some drawing activities to incorporate into the school day as indoor recess activities include:

  • Free drawing
  • Guided drawing
  • Themed drawing challenges
  • Collaborative drawing
  • Drawing prompts
  • Drawing contests
  • Comic strip creation.

DIY Projects

DIY projects can be an excellent way to engage children during indoor recess. They can encourage creativity, problem-solving, and hands-on learning. These projects often involve using everyday materials to create something new and exciting.

However, compared to other indoor recess activities, they may require more supplies or planning. This can be remedied by keeping DIY supplies on hand, or by planning a project in advance when you know an indoor recess day is coming up.

Some fun DIY project ideas to use as indoor recess activities include:

  • Paper crafts
  • Cardboard creations
  • DIY sensory bins
  • Nature crafts
  • DIY musical instruments
  • Upcycled Art
  • DIY jewelry like friendship bracelets
  • Science experiments.

Ideas for Social Indoor Recess Activities

Recess offers an opportunity for children to develop crucial social skills in a relaxed and interactive setting. Social activities encourage teamwork, communication, and cooperation among peers, all while fostering friendships and creating positive classroom dynamics. 

Calming Corner Time

Amidst the energy and excitement of indoor recess, it is important to also provide children with the opportunity to unwind, recharge, and practice mindfulness. A calming corner offers a sanctuary within the classroom. It is a quiet retreat where children can relax, reflect, and regulate their emotions.

In a calming corner, children can talk quietly among themselves or engage in relaxing activities such as interacting with sensory bins and fidget toys. This dedicated space supports their emotional well-being as well as teaches valuable self-regulation skills, while at the same time providing students with the opportunity to interact with one another. 

student playing charades indoors
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Board Games and Card Games

Kids love playing board games and card games. Some children may be familiar with popular games from playing them at home, while other games may be unknown and offer a unique and fun learning experience.

Board games and card games offer a way for children to have fun, engage in friendly competition, and develop essential skills during indoor recess. These games not only entertain but also promote strategic thinking, cooperation, and social interaction. Some games can be played by the entire class, but others may let students engage in small groups. 

Some popular games to offer as indoor recess activities include:

  • Chess
  • Scrabble
  • Monopoly
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Catan
  • Risk
  • Checkers
  • The Game of Life
  • Uno
  • Go Fish
  • Old Maid
  • War
  • Phase 10
  • Skip-Bo
indoor recess activity ideas

More Activity Ideas

Looking for more activities to do? Check out our other articles:

Sensory Bin Ideas

Minute to Win it Game Ideas

50 Fun Classroom Activities


  • Megan Martin

    Megan is a professional writer with over 5 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University. In her free time, Megan is an avid birdwatcher who enjoys spending time with her cats and watching documentaries with her husband.

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