Indoor Recess Ideas | The OT Toolbox

Indoor Recess Ideas

Looking for indoor recess ideas? Below, you'll find indoor games and activities to add to the recess line up when it's too cold to go outdoors for recess. We've tried to collate indoor recess games for older kids AND indoor recess ideas for kindergarten and the younger grades. All of the inside recess ideas can be used to add activity and movement when it's raining or too cold for outdoor recess!


During the winter months, kids can have trouble staying active! These indoor recess ideas will help with adding movement, bilateral coordination, motor planning, and development through indoor games.

Winter Activities for Kids

These activities are part of our Winter Week series here on The OT Toolbox. Join us each day this week to gain tons of ideas for using during the winter months. Here's what you can expect this week, and if you're seeing this post at a later time, no worries! Scroll through these posts for activities to keep the kids active, moving, and developing skills all winter long: 

Monday- Indoor Recess Ideas

Tuesday- Winter Brain Break Ideas

Wednesday- Winter Bilateral Coordination Activities

Thursday-Winter Mindfulness Activities

Friday- Winter Fine Motor Activities (AND, Free Fine Motor Printables!)

Indoor Recess Ideas

This time of year can be a real struggle for kids. They've got a long school day, where it's too cold to go outside for recess. After school brings continued cold temps and an  followed by coming home to an early sunset. Not to mention,many  kids have after-school activities scheduled. It's no wonder that kids are less active than ever before.

Because of this, I wanted to share these indoor recess ideas that can be used to add activity, motor planning, visual motor skills, midline crossing, and general movement!

1. Turn on the music and have a Crossing Gross Motor MarchCrossing Midline is a developmental ability that is important for so many gross motor tasks.  When a child has difficulty with crossing midline, they may demonstrate inefficiency with other areas like fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, hand dominance, self-care, reading, handwriting, and so many other areas. 

2. Add proprioceptive and vestibular input with an Indoor Skating activity! All you need for this activity is a pile of paper plates or old tissue boxes. If you have a carpeted area in the classroom, this can be a great way to identify a space for indoor ice skating during indoor recess. Add specific moves and have kids copy the ice skating moves to really incorporate motor planning and direction following.

3. Do the Hokey Pokey. Need some fresh ideas when it comes to the classic hokey pokey? Try playing "Snow-key Pokey" with a snowman theme. Just label the various body parts a snowman would have. For example: Snow cap, stick arms, boots, snow bottom, etc.

4. Animal Races- Gather a group of kids and have relay races in the hallway or gymnasium area. Kids can split into two teams and race against one another. Each child will need to come up with an animal walk as they race back to tag another person on their team. SOme animal walk ideas include: donkey kicks, penguin waddles, bear walks, crab walks, frog jumps, elephant walks, snake slithers, etc.

5. Arctic Animal Yoga- Grab these Arctic Animal Yoga Cards and start moving! These would go perfectly with an animal theme and add the bonus of calming stretches. They are a great movement break during the day, use at circle time, morning meeting, free time or for use during stations. These cards are fun for use during physical education or in group/individual physical and occupational therapy. They are a great way to add simple movement into the day which we know is essential for learning and concentration. Use them with an arctic unit!

6. Freeze Dance- Turn on YouTube and dance to the music. When the music stops, everyone needs to FREEZE!

7. Charades- Ask each student to write on a slip of paper a character, animal, or object. Combine themes from the curriculum, favorite books, or movies. Students can act out the people or objects on the cards while the rest of the class guesses what the student is describing with movement.

8. Indoor Balance Beam- Try some of these indoor balance beams using everyday items or a roll of painters tape. There are so many benefits to using balance beams. It's a fun way to break up indoor recess into centers, too.

9. Ribbon Wand Dance- Make a handful of DIY ribbon wands and sneak in some gross motor skills and movement by dancing to music.

10. Indoor Gross Motor Game- Get the whole class involved in gross motor play with jumping, hopping, and more with this Dinosaur Gross Motor Game uses mini dinosaur figures. Grab the free printable game spinner and activity here

11. Bean Bag Games- This group gross motor core strengthening activity is a fun way to get the whole class involved in a group game!

12. Play the Four Corners Classroom Game- Add movement and sneak in some auditory processing work with this fun game shared over on The Game Gal.

13. Who Am I Game- The kids can write down book and movie characters on a sticky note and stick it to their forehead. They can ask other students questions as they move around the room, trying to figure out who they "are"!

I hope these ideas are helpful in creating opportunities for movement and activity during these indoor recess months at school! 

Looking for more indoor activity ideas? Join me in the Get Active Indoors Challenge

This challenge is a 5-day Get Active Inside Activity Challenge from my friend, Jamie of Hands On As We Grow. It starts on Monday, January 14th. 

Click here to sign up for the Get Active Inside Activity Challenge.

By the end of this challenge, you’ll work off some of that crazy amount of energy your kids have and create memories that will last a lifetime.


But, here’s the genius part -- she does this without it being ‘work’ for the kids or you! There are 5 fun days of activities that engage your child, get them to put down their iPads and get all that cooped up energy OUT. Plus, her activities use basic supplies that you’ll have on hand (she’ll send you a supply list too to check).

Finally, stop back tomorrow to see more indoor activities and winter themed ideas that boost motor skills, motor planning, and development. It's all part of Winter Week here on The OT Toolbox!


Add gross motor play and activities to the classroom with indoor recess ideas that get the kids moving.