Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Indoor Recess: Tips for Organizing and Managing Materials in the Classroom {Organization, Puzzles, Games, Legos, etc}

Here in the northeast we are in the depths of “indoor recess season.” It stinks. Those kids need to get their wiggles out, but cold temperatures often keep them inside. Anyone else in the same boat.

There isn’t a lot of time dedicated to recess so it is important to have systems in place that allow the kids to quickly set up and clean up the recess materials. Today I am going to share some tips and ideas for how I manage this in my classroom as well as how I store the materials and games they use.

When selecting items to use for indoor recess keep the allotted time frame in mind. Your students won’t have time to complete a game of Monopoly. Instead you want to stock up on games that are quick. Connect Four and  Guess Who are good options. 

Puzzles are good for students to do collaboratively or on their own. I always put the pieces into a bag and discard the original packaging. This saves a ton of space as many puzzles can then be stored in a plastic shoe box. 

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Keeping all of the recess materials in one cupboard or bin will make it easier for the students to set them up and put them away. I use small trash cans to hold pattern blocks, wooden blocks and Legos. These can quickly be grabbed and taken to an area for a few friends to play with together. The open top makes for a fast cleanup and allows pieces that are found later to be put away easily.

Assigning a couple of students the classroom job of “recess helper” assists in making sure things get set up and put away efficiently. I strongly suggest picking students who are a good fit for such a role, train them well and have them do the job throughout the year. In my classroom I have two girls who are in charge of removing the containers of manipulatives, puzzles and games from the cabinet where they are stored and placing them onto a nearby table for the students to grab. The students then clean up the activity they were using and return it to the table for the girls to put in the cabinet. This ensures that the materials are always put away neatly in their labeled spots and are ready for the next day. 

Although my students have their own art supply bags, I find it is better to use community supplies if they choose to draw and color during recess. I have baskets of crayons, markers and colored pencils dedicated to recess and choice times. 


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