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Planning for Recess

July 12, 2013

Teachers are always busy. Even when we are on break or vacation we are thinking about lesson ideas, our students, our classrooms, and our professional practice. My friend reminds me often that we are doing, “IMPORTANT WORK.” We all need to be reminded sometimes of the important work we do.recess

I know many of you are planning for the upcoming school year. I just saw my first “back to school” sale signs. Yikes!

My teacher candidates have been working on classroom management plans for the first week of school for their future classrooms. One of the topics we discuss is recess. There are several important considerations that I try to emphasize with my students as they make plans to create community, build relationships, and prevent behavior problems.

Over the years I have noted that recess can be a brewing pot for difficulties. What can you do to make sure recess is good exercise, fun, safe, and a learning experience for your students?

  • Address the topic of appropriate behavior BEFORE recess.
    • Do this in a variety of ways before each recess during the first week of school. Talk about it during class meetings and as part of setting classroom norms. Have students describe, draw, role-play appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Have students write a play and/or create a public service video on “How to Do Recess.”
  • Define clear expectations for behavior.
    • How do we go to recess?
    • How do we return to the classroom?
    • How do we resolve conflict?
    • Who do we go to when there is a problem?
  • Talk about Bullying and how it gets started at recess.
    • Talk about how we treat each other in our class.
    • Talk about how we treat other students in our school.
  • Make a plan for fun and appropriate play for recess.
    • I have found that many problems arise because students don’t know what to play or how to play with others. There seems to be a lot of running, wrestling, grabbing, and shouting, but not so much in the way of organized activities like four-square, jump rope, basketball, or soccer. (A good resource is ) As the new year starts why not talk with other teachers and playground monitors to put together a plan for teaching students how to play and ideas for what to play.
    • Set up a Fitness Course or an Obstacle Course around the playground. (Walk from Point A to Point B. Stop and do push-ups. Duck walk. Sit ups.)
    • Set up a running “track.” Student can walk or run and record their distance. How far can they walk/run this quarter, this semester, or this year?
  • Make sure playground monitors not only know the expectations, but know how to interact respectively and positively with your students. Playground monitors should be trained in conflict resolution so that they can support students in actively practicing conflict resolution strategies.
  • Introduce the Peace Bridge in the classroom and practice the Peace Bridge on the playground. Some schools actually have it painted on the playground.peace bridge
  • Go to recess with your students.
    • I know teachers have a million things to do, especially the first weeks of school, and I know teachers need a break during the day. But during the first week, consider taking your students to the playground and actually “teach” how we play and interact at recess.
    • After the first week, make it a “Date” and go with your students for one recess each week. Make it a special time. I knew a 5th grade teacher who took all of his students to the gym every Thursday for afternoon recess to play basketball. He played with them each week. They had a great time and guess who were the stars at the faculty-student game in the spring.
  • Reflect. Take time after recess each day to talk about recess:
    • How did it go?
    • What do we need to do differently?
    • How can we have fun and be safe?

Do you have ideas to share? We would love to hear from you.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bridget kellett permalink
    September 22, 2016 1:19 pm

    Hi, I was looking to implement the peace bridge program at my school. I was wondering if there or training tools or videos to help explain this concept better to the children. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Bridget Kellett

    • September 24, 2016 10:00 am

      Hi Bridget,
      I do not have a specific curriculum or source, but using the Peace Bridge is an extension of using I-statements as a conflict resolution tool. I usually introduce I-Statements early in the school year and give students an opportunity to practice using role-play and pretend scenarios. Then we practice with the Peace Bridge. We have our strategy ready when conflict arises. There are many online references for I-Statements. I have collected several on my Pinterest board

      I believe you will find these useful.



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