Indoor Recess Ideas

indoor recess ideas

Looking for indoor recess ideas? Below, you’ll find winter 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 come up with indoor recess games for older kids AND indoor recess ideas for kindergarten and the younger grades. Some of these ideas work well with traditional indoor recess group activities, and others are better suited for socially distancing during indoor recess, while still allowing kids to move! 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.

Indoor Recess Winter Activities for Kids

Here are more ways to get the kids moving this time of year:






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. Many are on screens during much of that day, especially if schooling is done virtually or at home with distance learning.

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 March. Crossing 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. This can be done in a socially distanced format in a well-spaced out area such as a gym or hallway. And, for our virtual learners, this activity is fun for the whole family.

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- Add animal walks with an artic theme. 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! These polar bear gross motor therapy activities can be used as a winter brain break or recess activity.

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! Make it a winter theme with these snowflake bean bags.

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”!

11. Winter Toothpick Art– Use the Winter Fine Motor Kit materials to get kids moving with the toothpick art activities. These can be used on cardboard or a carpeted area to help kids build fine motor strength and tripod grasp.

12. Winter Crumble Art- This is another fun fine motor activity for indoor recess. Use bits of tissue paper or crumbled up construction paper to create a winter picture. These sheets are in the Winter Fine Motor Kit, too.

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

winter fine motor kit

The Winter Fine Motor Kit has materials to print-and-go, including arctic animal finger puppets to develop finger isolation, toothpick art activities with winter themes, crumble art pages, coloring and pencil control activities for building strength and endurance in the hands. All of these materials are included in a 100 page packet with winter themes: snowmen, mittens, snowflakes, penguins, polar bears, arctic animals, and more.


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

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Winter Fine Motor Activities

winter fine motor activities

Looking for winter fine motor activities that boost the skills kids need? These fine motor ideas develop the skills that kids need for tasks like handwriting, pencil grasp, cutting with scissors, managing clothing fasteners, and more. You’ll find winter activities that boost hand strength, grasp, precision and endurance in the hands…all through play! We’ve even got a winter fine motor kit, loaded with resources, activities, crafts, and no-prep materials designed to help kids develop fine motor skills. So scroll on! 

First, stop by our fine motor skills library for tons of ideas to work on the motor skills kids need.

It has been fun sharing winter activities this week! If you missed any of the posts, be sure to check them out below. We’ve talked about indoor recess ideas for winter, brain break ideas, and activities to address bilateral coordination skills, and even mindfulness! You will have ideas for a season of development!

Check out the Winter Activities on the site this week: 

Monday- Indoor Recess Ideas

Winter Brain Break Ideas

Winter Bilateral Coordination Activities

Winter Mindfulness Activities

Winter Fine Motor Activities (TONS of  Free Printables!)

Now on to today’s topic, fine motor activities!

These winter fine motor activities can help kids develop the hand strength and fine motor skills needed for every day tasks, all with a winter theme.

Winter Fine Motor Activities

We used those same hole reinforcer stickers to make a fine motor snowman craft that boosts skills like tip to tip precision, separation of the sides of the hand, and arch strength. 

This beaded snowflake craft from Early Learning Ideas encourages bilateral coordination, separation of the sides of the hand, precision, in-hand manipulation, and a tripod grasp…with pretty results!

Use paper hole reinforcers to improve precision and dexterity by forming letters and names like Fun-a-Day did. 

If you’re looking for another craft idea, then this clothespin snowman craft uses a clothespin clip to really work the muscles of the hand. Move that snowman around and clip him onto bags, coats, and books! 

If you’re looking for a fine motor activity for kindergarten kids, then this sight word tic tac toe game is the ticket! Kids can make the game pieces, and move them around to play a game of tic tac toe while strengthening skills like tip to tip grasp, arch development, separation of the sides of the hand, and finger isolation.

For more craft ideas that boost fine motor skills, check out all of these winter bird crafts. You’ll find ideas for strengthening the hands and other fine motor skills while making cute bird crafts, bird feeders, and other activities. 

If working on scissor skills is a priority, a paper snowflake is the way to go this winter. But what if you took the paper snowflake up a notch by cutting cupcake liners? This cupcake liner paper snowflake activity boosts hand strength with a pretty result!

Working on pencil grasp? You don’t need a pencil! Make this snowflake stamp art and promote the fine motor skills that are needed for a functional grasp: separation of the sides of the hand, arch development, and an open thumb web space for example. This creative winter painting idea has a sensory component, too.

winter fine motor kit

Winter Fine Motor Worksheets

To end out the Winter Week here on The OT Toolbox, I wanted to create a fine motor worksheets that are a true resource during the winter months. These fine motor worksheets that cover a variety of different fine motor abilities:  

These reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

Play Dough Roll Mats- We’ve shared some free play dough mats before. They are perfect for developing fine motor skills and hand strength needed for tasks like coloring with endurance, manipulating small items, and holding a pencil. Kids can roll small balls of play dough with just their fingertips to strengthen the intrinsic muscles. The Winter Fine Motor Kit contains 6 winter play dough mats that can be used all winter long!  

Pinch and Grip Strength Activities- Includes: glue skills page, tong/tweezer activities, lacing cards, finger puppets, 1-10 counting clip cards, 10 toothpick art pages, find & color page, 5 crumble art pages. TARGET SKILLS: Precision, pinch and grip hand strength, tripod grasp, arch development, bilateral coordination, open thumb web-space.

Pencil Control Worksheets- Connect the arctic animals or winter items and stay on the pencil path lines while mastering pencil control. Some of the lines are small and are a great way to strengthen the hands, too.  

Arctic Animal Cutting Strips and Scissor Skills Sheets- Work on scissor skills to cut along lines to reach the arctic animal friends or snowflakes, snowmen, and mittens. This is a great way to strengthen the motor and visual skills needed for cutting with scissors.   Also included are 7 scissor skills strips with graded precision designed for data collection and accuracy development, 2 color & cut memory cards, 4 pages simple cutting shapes in small/med/large sizes, 3 pages complex cutting shapes in small/med/large sizes, 2 small and 2 large cutting skills puzzles. These worksheets help kids develop graded scissor skill accuracy and precision, visual perceptual skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, bilateral coordination.

Handwriting Sensory Bin Materials- You and the kiddos will love these A-Z uppercase and lowercase tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 counting cards. Using the sensory bin materials can develop tactile handwriting, letter and number formation, finger isolation, crossing midline, sensory challenges.

“I Spy” Modified Paper- Includes: Color and find objects in two themes: winter items and arctic animals; 3 styles of modified paper for each theme: single rule bold lines, double rule bold lines, highlighted double rule. Use these pages to develop handwriting, pencil control, line and spatial awareness, legibility, visual perceptual skills, visual memory.

Fine Motor Handwriting Sheets- Try the 4 Find/Color/Copy pages in different styles of modified paper, rainbow writing pages in 3 styles of modified paper. These handwriting worksheets use the winter theme to help with handwriting, visual perception, pencil control, visual memory, visual attention, precision, pencil control, functional handwriting.

Write the Room Activities- Using a winter theme, these Write the Toom cards includes: 5 lowercase copy cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 5 lowercase tracing cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 6 cursive writing copy cards, 2 styles of writing pages. TARGET SKILLS: Letter formation, pencil control, visual motor skills, visual attention, visual memory, line placement, functional handwriting at all levels and stages.

Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit Here.

winter fine motor kit



These fine motor winter activities will keep the kids active and moving all winter long.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to