It’s hard to stay indoors during these last few days of spring before summer break, but you still have things to teach, and giving your students another recess is not going to fly with your administration. So why not take the learning outdoors? Here are some ideas for meaningful learning while getting your kids moving in the sunshine. For all of these, you will need to be the only class in the space – it won’t work to do these while other classes are having their regular recess. Also, many of these use task cards.
Skip is basically just outdoor Scoot. Instead of putting task cards on desks and having your students scoot around the classroom, put them outdoors, spaced at least 15 feet apart so kids have to skip (with their clipboards – be sure to talk about how to hold the pencil safely) to get from one card to another. You could put the cards on play equipment or trees, but the easiest would be to put them along a long wall or fence. You may need to have an aid or classroom helper set this up for you ahead of time, or if you are using a fence, just have each student bring out a card and a piece of tape and space them as you want before you begin. Add a little variety by changing “skip” to “jump,” “jog,” “hop,” etc.
Task Card Scavenger Hunt
You may have done this inside. Get an aid or a helper to randomly place task cards all over the given area (at the top of a slide, on a tree branch, etc.). Tape will help. Give the kids clip boards, pencils, and answer sheets, and see how many they can find and answer in a given period of time. Again, be vigilant of pencil safety with moving kids.
Walk and Talk
Walk and Talk is a hack on Quiz, Quiz, Trade. Instead of having the pairs face each other to ask their questions, have them walk around the play area together. Another option is to have them face each other as they normally would, but then, after they trade cards, just before they look for new partners, they each do ten jumping jacks.
Designate four corners in your space each with a letter, A,B,C, or D (use signs or chalk). Gather in the center and give each student a multiple choice task card (ABCD). When the teacher says, “Corners!” Each student runs to the appropriate corner. So, at corner A, all of the answers should be A. Once there, students swap with a partner to check their answers. To start a new round, students gather in the middle and mill around exchanging cards with several different people until the teacher says, “Corners!” again.
True or False Chase
Divide the class into two teams and put them on two lines 30 or so feet apart. One team is TRUE and the other is FALSE.
To begin a round, have teams approach each other near the middle of the playing area, but still staying on their own side of the center line. The teacher makes a statement that can be either true or false, such as, “Seven times eight equals fifty-six.” Or, “A reptile is a warm-blooded animal.” If the statement is true, the TRUE team chases the false team back to their home line. FALSE players that are tagged must join the TRUE team. If the statement is false, the opposite occurs.
True of False Steal the Bacon
This is a twist on the original game. Set the game up as usual, with two numbered teams in lines about 30 feet apart. In the center place two “bacons,” one labeled TRUE in large letters and the other labeled FALSE. Pool noodles cut to about a foot long would work well for this (ideally in different colors).
Begin each round by making a statement about something you have been studying that is either true or false, such as: “Asteroids orbit the sun like planets” or, “Olympia is the capital of Oregon.” Now everyone is thinking about the answer (there should be complete silence – take away a point if someone says the answer). Then call a number. To win a point, the player must grab the correct bacon and get it back to his side without being tagged. If the players disagree about the answer, they will each grab a different bacon and there will be no chase. If they agree, one will chase the other back to the line. A super fun way to review!
Quick and Easy
- Silent read outside.
- Practice math facts or spelling words with chalk on the pavement.
- Skip count by bouncing balls or hopping.
- Collect data by measuring things that are outside. Use what you collected to create math problems or graphs to work with inside.
- Have students write math story problems inspired from being outside (e.g. It takes Savannah 26 seconds to cross the monkey bars. If she crosses them nine times during morning recess, how long will she have spent crossing the monkey bars?)