Can't Get Outside? 5 Ideas to Manage Cabin Fever and Indoor Recess

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere like me, you are in the dead of winter right now! Maybe some of you don't live in a climate where "winter" is as scary a concept as it is here in the Northeast, but for those of you who suffer from blistering wind, arctic temps, and freezing rain and snow during this time of year, you know how challenging it is to ensure your kiddos get the fresh air break they need. No matter where you live, indoor recess happens on occasion, and it helps to have a plan of action when that inevitable disappointing announcement comes through the loud speaker.

Images courtesy of Mrs. Fun and Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Below are my 5 favorite ways to manage indoor recess and your sanity:

1. Specified Activity Centers

You likely use centers throughout your classroom: library, computers, circle area, teacher's area, etc. You may also employ "centers" in your teaching. Do they work for you and your kids? How about incorporating them into you indoor recess activities too! You may have games or activities that you have specifically for indoor recess. Have centers available and a routine for when kids switch to their new indoor recess activity. Kids remain engaged, aren't constantly asking you what they can do, and you get to eat your lunch in peace (maybe).

Check out this great post for how to organize your indoor recess activities.

2. YouTube


This was one I used most frequently, as my kiddos LOVED it. I primarily would find "Just Dance" videos for us all to dance to. Other channels offer some great sing-a-longs or movement games for your kids too. Check out this post for other channels to subscribe to for indoor recess. As with everything on the internet, make sure you are previewing the content first. Seeming harmless videos (think: episodes of Curious George) can be altered to be less-than kid-friendly (think: episodes of Curious George on drugs...true story).

3. Incorporate Specific Fitness Activities

Having a specific set of movement activities is important in keeping both your sanity, and the sanity of your kids. Some ways to do this might be to incorporate your Unos Cards, use a tin of quick fitness moves, log on to website of fitness videos for students, or using fitness visuals, like giant dice, or cards.

Check out my Fidget Break cards - a popular product for indoor recess!

4. OT Room resources

Ask your OTs in your class for resources - they always have the best stuff! Obviously, you want to ensure it's centered around learning and therapy, so include your OT in the fun as much as possible. Some resources you could use (and think of fun ways to include them into a structured activity) is a collapsible tunnel, inflatable bowling set, or a bean-bag toss game.

5. Walks with a Purpose

Sometimes, getting out of the classroom is your end-game. It's hard to be stuck indoors all day, especially in the same room! Whenever possible, I would take my kiddos (or some of them, if you have aids) for a walk. I would often try to make it educational in some way. Sometimes we would try to find specific letters, rhyming words, or colors. Other times, we might use our walk as an excuse to go visit the secretary, or drop off our library books. It's also fun to incorporate different ways of walking, such as bunny hops, baby steps, or tip toes. This gets your kids moving in a fun and different way, while keeping them engaged.

Final Thoughts: Indoor recess is hard. Especially when you have several in one week! Try any of the above ideas and see which work for you and your kiddos. Get creative! I usually would use a combination of any of the above strategies for our indoor recess. I also continue to use many of these strategies, when appropriate, with the adults I work with. I LOVE walking into a day program or residential home and seeing the individuals and staff engaged in a physical movement activity, just out of the pure joy of movement. People of age enjoys moving, musical, and interactive activities.

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