Recess at Home :: 5 Activities to Get Your Kids Moving

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With the dawn of virtual education, many parents are taking on unprecedented educational challenges. Even the parents whose students are opting into virtual school, where teachers will have prepared lesson plans and educational materials, will have to take on the role of Educator and P.E. Teacher.

One big issue many parents are dealing with is the amount of screen time that will be required by e-learning. This is already an area of struggle for so many of us, and it’s now the primary method that most of our children will be using to learn.

So the big question is: how can we incorporate outdoor recess and movement to ensure our kids are staying active?

Family
Starting our day with a little movement!

This is where we get old school. Before the dawn of helicopter parenting, many kids spent the entire summer outside, dusk til dawn, with nothing more than a ball or a pair of rollerblades. Now my 8-year-old looks at me stunned when I tell him playing his tablet outside is not the same as playing outside.

For many of us, recess is built into our e-learning schedule, but when it comes to what we’ll actually do with the kids, we’re at a loss.

Have no fear! We’ve collected some of our most beloved outdoor recess activities that are easy to explain and require little to no equipment, so that you can be sure your kiddo gets moving in between virtual school sessions. As an added bonus for the rainy days, we’ve added some indoor activities and resources you can do as well. Let’s be honest, the rainy days are the days we need it the most!

After you’ve read through the list, feel free to scroll to the bottom for a list of amazing online resources, filled with ideas, videos, and pictures to keep you and your kids active while learning at home.

Taking a “Brain Break” in the backyard

5 outdoor activities you can do with your kids for Recess at Home:

  1. Fun with a Bean Bag: All you need for these activities is 1 bean bag per person, or you could even share one bean bag between multiple people. These activities would be particularly great for elementary aged kids.
    • Toss and Try: Toss the bean bag up in the air and then:
      • Clap as many times as you can before it hits the floor
      • Clap once and try to catch it
      • Try to do a full spin before it hits the ground
      • Try to do a full spin and catch it
    • Ready, Aim, Fire: Toss the bean bag to hit specific targets
      • Draw a target with chalk on the inside of your backyard fence. Switch off between hitting the center, outsides, and above and below the target.
      • Draw circles on the driveway in chalk similar to Bozo Buckets. Try to toss the bean bag and land it sequentially in the circles. 
    • Balancing Bean Bags: Balance the bean bag on your head, shoulders, or back without dropping it
      • Try to balance on one foot, then the other.
      • Sit down and stand up
      • Squat down and back up again
      • Spin in a circle
  1. Adventure Deck: For these activities all you’ll need is a deck of cards. Depending on the age of your kids you may want to change the activities accordingly.
    • Elementary Aged: Assign each suit a different movement. For example, Hearts = Jumping, Spades = Spinning, Clubs = Kicking, Diamonds = High Kick. The number on the card represents the number of repetitions of each movement (ex: 4 of Hearts = 4 Jumps) with the face cards being Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, Ace = 14. Each child gets to draw a card from the deck, and everyone moves accordingly. You can do this as a time exercise or with each child drawing a certain amount of cards.

      Adventure Deck
      Using our locomotor skills to jump!
    • Older Kids: For older children, you can change the movements to be more in line with their skill level. You could assign each suit push-ups, sit ups, crab walks, squats, crunches, etc. If your child is particularly fond of a sport, you could assign a sport-oriented movement to each suit. For example, you could use jump shots, spider dribbles, down-the-driveway dribbles, 3-pointers, or free throws if your child enjoys basketball.
  2. Hula Hoops: One of the cheapest and most versatile outdoor toys: the hula hoop. You can find them for relatively cheap on Amazon, and the options are endless. Aside from swinging it around your hips, your kids can also play:
    • Hula Hoop Like a…: Each child is assigned their own hula hoop in a designated area. When the parent calls out a specific animal, the object is for the child to walk like the animal while holding the hula hoop around their waist. For example, if the parent says “frog” – the child would frog hop. Some other great animal options are horse (gallop), duck (duck walk), crab (crab walk), giraffe (walk on tip toes), or monkey (make a monkey noise).
    • Hula Hoop Catching Race: In a large outdoor area, line yourself and the kids up next to each other horizontally. When you call out a child’s name, roll the hula hoop vertically along the ground as hard as you can. The child’s name that you called has to run out and try to catch it!

      Hula Hoop
      We take our hula-hooping very seriously!
  3. Socially Distant Tag: Who knew these words would even be in our vocabulary, right? If you have neighbors with kids this is a great way to get more people involved while staying at a safe distance. The best way to do this is by using a pool noodle. You can keep the noodle as-is, or cut it into a smaller section to make it harder to tag. The person(s) doing the tagging gets to hold the noodle, and once the noodle touches you, you’ve been tagged! To add a fun twist to this (and to keep the pouters from being sad that they’re out), require those that have been tagged to wave their hands in the air, do the dab, or the floss until everyone else has been tagged. Switch taggers about every minute.
  4. Water Hose Limbo: This one is for a day where you don’t mind getting a little wet. Have the kids dress in swimsuits and head to the yard. Use the hose like a limbo stick, with each child trying to make it under without touching the water. Lower it by a few inches each turn until you have a winner!

    Hammock
    If all else fails, put up a hammock! Fun for hours!

What about indoors?

The rainy days will come, and our kids will still need to move! Here are a few resources that will keep your kids active inside.

Go Noodle This website is chalk-full of AMAZING activities, dances, songs, and movements for your kids to do at home! It’s even available to download as an app.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Also available as a website or app, this is a great way to get your kids moving indoors!

Calm App: This app is great for kids and adults alike. Focusing on mindfulness, breathing, and self-awareness, this is a great resource for the days when the frustrations seem to be mounting.

Floor Tape Games: All you need for these is a room where you can put some tape on the floor.

If all else fails, assign the kiddos some chores! That’ll get the blood flowing pretty quickly!

Many of these activities have been adapted from ideas found at openphysed.org; visit for an extensive list of resources for parents and educators!

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Kristi Rice
Kristi was born and raised in Chicago but calls Memphis her home. She lives in Collierville with her husband, Jesse, and three kids – Levi (June 2012), Sam (May 2014), and Halle June (March 2016). Her husband lost his left eye in combat while in Iraq with the U.S. Army in 2007; because of that, she tries to treat every single day like a gift. She is a work-from-home mom, providing online nutrition and fitness coaching to hundreds of clients while juggling a threenager. She loves to talk all things enneagram (she’s a 4w3), faith, family, and fitness. On a good day you can find her on the tennis court or scouring the city for the best coffee shop. If she’s not there check the laundry room – she’s probably waist-deep inside the washing machine.

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