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The 36 Best Indoor Recess Games For Kids

When the weather makes it impossible for your students to have fun outside, you must keep them engaged.

But what are the best games to keep your students occupied while they play indoors? To help you come up with some ideas, we’ve found a selection of activities that you and your students will love.

The 36 Best Indoor Recess Games For Kids

1. Simon Says

Simon Says is a great game for indoor recess, as the whole class can play along. One of your students plays the role of Simon, and they then instruct the other students to do as Simon Says.

The other students need to pay attention to what is said, and if the phrase doesn’t begin with “Simon Says,” then they lose.

It’s a useful game to teach students to pay attention to what is said. Best of all, you can play this game inside or outside to keep it in your game’s inventory for any activity.

2. Charades

Charades is a party game where you give one student a phrase to act out, and the other students need to guess what it is.

The student who knows the phrase isn’t allowed to say what it is, so they need to use creative thinking to get the other students to understand.

You can choose any phrase you want to give your students, choosing a topic you’ve been studying or a TV show or book the kids enjoy.

The whole class can work together to play this game, or you can split everyone into teams. 

3. Heads Up, Seven Up

Heads Up, Seven Up is a popular elementary school game where you choose seven students to come to the front of the room.

All other students need to put their heads on their tables as the students at the front select a student to push their thumbs down or tap them.

The students they chose then have to guess which of them chose them. Once the students guess, the correct students can take the place of the ones who tapped them.

It’s a great way for kids to use deductive reasoning, and it’s also a great icebreaker.

4. Four Corners

Four Corners is a game that you can adjust to playing in class or during recess. One student volunteers to go into the middle of the classroom after you move the desks out of the way.

Let the students run around or play some music. When you switch the music off, the students need to run to a different corner.

The student in the middle should have their eyes closed during this, and they will point to a corner. Each student in that corner is out of the game, and the cycle continues until only one student remains.

5. Musical Chairs

A classic indoor recess favorite is musical chairs, and it’s no wonder why. Musical chairs allow your students to run around and move quickly to ensure they get a seat by the end of the round.

It’s a game that never gets old, with older kids equally excited about playing this classic party game. All you need to do is always remove a chair each round and keep your students on their toes. 

6. Freeze Dance

Freeze Dance shares a lot of similarities with Musical Statues and follows a similar formula to Musical Chairs. You play music, and when the music stops, your students must stop what they’re doing.

They need to freeze in position and keep that position until the music starts again. If they can’t hold the position, they have to do ten jumping jacks before returning to the game.

It’s a fun activity that will keep your students energized and let go of their pent-up energy.

7. Hot/Cold

Hot/Cold is a game where you need to hide an object from one of your students. This game is great for younger students, as everyone else knows where you hid the item.

Everyone has to say hot or cold to help the chosen student find the item. You need to yell hot as you get closer to the item and go quieter when they aren’t near it.

It’s always a surprise how engaging students can get when you play this game with them.

8. Pass the Rubber Chicken

We recommend investing in a rubber chicken to keep on hand, specifically for this activity. In this game, one of your students needs to hold the chicken.

You call out for them to name five names or objects of their choice, and they need to come up with five things as the other students pass the chicken.

If the chicken comes back to them, they will have to name five things again. They can choose someone else to hold the rubber chicken if they succeed.

9. Human Knot

Kids of all ages can appreciate a human knot, as it’s a perfect icebreaker. Get all your students to hold hands; they need to tangle themselves into a knot.

They then need to untangle themselves without breaking the knot and letting go of another student. This great game involves your students working together to untangle themselves.

It’s a hilarious game that will make your students laugh as they maneuver through everyone else. 

10. Zip, Zap, Zoo

Get all of your students to stand in a circle, and get them to stand at least six feet apart. Choose a student to begin and get them to clap their hands and say, “Zip.”

The next student can continue, or they can say “Zap” and change their direction. The next student can continue or say “Zoom” and clap at another student in the circle while pointing at them.

It’s a game where you need to pay attention to your surroundings, as anyone could be next to go.

11. Museum Guard

In this Night at the Museum-inspired game, you must select one student to become the museum guard.

Get the other students to select a theme, and they will freeze in the form of a statue representing that theme.

As the guard walks around the room, the other students freeze when they look at them. If the guard sees a statue moving, that student will be out. The winner will be whoever is left remaining in the final round. 

12. Would You Rather?

Would You Rather? is a classic game that has amused adults and children alike for years. In this game, you will give your students two scenarios; they need to decide which one they will choose.

There’s no right answer, but it can lead to amusing conversations about why they made that decision.

You don’t even have to arrange questions either, as many different questions are now available online for you to choose from. 

13. Judges

Judge, or Mr/Mrs. Judge involves you selecting one student to become the judge. The judge has to put their head down on the table, and another student must approach the judge and disguise their voice.

The student must say, “Good morning, Mr/Mrs. Judge,” and return to their original position. The judge has three guesses to determine who said good morning to them.

If they guess correctly, the student who spoke becomes the judge. If the judge is incorrect, they keep playing until they’re correct.

14. Hangman

Whether you have an indoor recess or want a game for everyone in the classroom, we recommend hangman.

Your students need to guess the word you’re thinking of by finding the letters you use to spell it. If they answer wrong, you draw a line for the hangman.

They can save the hangman from his tragic fate if they get it right. Hangman is a fun game for all ages and encourages students to work together. 

15. Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic-Tac-Toe, or Noughts and Crosses, is a game where you draw a 3 x 3 grid. Each student needs to take turns and draw an X or an O on the grid.

The goal is to get three in a row or stop the other player from succeeding. You can also find different variants of Tic-Tac-Toe, such as forcing your opponent to get three in a row instead of you.

You can also increase the number of squares in the grid and change how many you need in a row to win. 

16. The Floor Is Lava

The Floor is Lava is a game that kids have been playing for years, but it’s exploded in popularity once more thanks to the Netflix show of the same name.

Your students need to jump onto the nearest piece of furniture when you announce the floor is lava.

They have five seconds to get their feet off the ground, and if they’re still touching the floor, they are out of the game.

It’s best to play this in the gym, but if you have space, you can improvise and play it in your classroom. 

17. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you need to get your students to use their pent-up energy, we recommend you set up an indoor obstacle course.

If you have a gym available, consider taking out the equipment and setting up an indoor obstacle course so everyone can enjoy it.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a gym available, as you can always create an indoor obstacle course using furniture in your classroom.

All you need to do is ensure kids don’t stand on the furniture or get hurt, but you can easily set up an obstacle course to let the kids race through.

18. Paper Plane Race

If you want a more subdued game, you can always participate in a paper plane race with your students.

Teach your students how to make their paper planes and encourage them to design them so they can tell the difference between them.

Measure how far each paper plane flies using some tape, and to up the stakes, feel free to give a prize to the winner. Another way to encourage your students is to give them an award for the best design. 

19. Jeopardy

Jeopardy is a trivia game where players need to answer trivia in specific categories. You can either arrange the categories yourself or find an edition of Jeopardy online.

You can make several categories that tie into what you’ve been teaching in class or use general questions about different TV shows or films. 

20. Marble Run

If you have any marbles and ramps available, you can always encourage your students to make a marble run. Your students can race against one another.

You don’t need to buy ramps either; instead, you could use any cardboard you have lying around. You can also attach these to the wall and treat it as a science experiment to see how your students will use them.

21. Indoor Scavenger Hunt

You can set up an indoor scavenger hunt in so many different ways. If you know the weather has been bad for a while, you’ve most likely come up with a plan to entertain your students.

Bring some items, or find items you would normally have in a classroom. Give a list to your students for them to find, and put them in teams to see who can find the most items the fastest.

22. Balloon Volleyball

You only need a balloon and a piece of string to create your balloon volleyball court. Divide your class into two teams, and put them on each side of the net.

They then need to ensure the balloon doesn’t hit the ground, but the other team gets the point if the balloon falls on the side of the net.

You can also adjust the game so you can use paper plates as paddles. This challenging game will keep your whole class entertained for ages.

(Find information on high school volleyball in this guide).

23. Duck, Duck, Goose

While Duck, Duck, Goose may be commonly associated with younger kids, it doesn’t mean that you can’t adapt it for older students.

Your students must sit in a circle, and one student must tap each student on the head while going around, saying “duck.”

When a student gets tapped and becomes the goose, they must chase the picker, who must race around the circle and get the spot to avoid being the picker again.

24. Tag

If you have a gym, then you have a great area to involve your students in this classic game. One of your students is “It,” and they need to tag the other students.

Your students will release so much pent-up energy playing this game. Different variations of Tag exist, where other students join in being It or swap roles.

Consider playing with the different versions of Tag and have fun. 

25. Kahoot

Kahoot! is all about bringing learning and gaming together. You’ll find hundreds of games to engage students of all ages.

There are different types of games that you can play, focusing on education, or you can play games involving popular topics like Marvel and Disney.

These quizzes are a brilliant way to involve all your students, as you just need a screen to play. 

26. GoNoodle

GoNoodle is a free tool for teachers who want to get their students active during indoor recess.

There are a variety of web-based tools, and you can find a variety of different video lessons to encourage movement.

This is a great way to encourage your students to get up and move, with different activities available, so it doesn’t have to be the same exercise every time. 

27. Bingo

Give your students a bingo card and get them to fill them in until the winning student shouts, “Bingo!” You can adjust the card to fit certain topics and let your students compete to complete their rows first.

You can either focus on classic numbers or words, languages, or pictures.

For a more active version of the game, consider putting different questions on the cards for your students to answer, and whoever fills the card first wins. 

28. Go Fish

You only need a pack of standard playing cards to play Go Fish. The game is so easy that students of all ages can enjoy this game.

You need to win four of any type of card, such as four kings, four aces, and more. The suits in this game aren’t important, but the numbers do.

The player asks their opponent if they have a card; if they do, they need to hand the cards over to the player.

If the opponent doesn’t have the card, they send the player to go fishing in the deck. Once all thirteen sets are gone, the winner is the player with the most four sets. 

29. Uno

Uno is a classic card game that your students can play at recess, as it’s a fast-paced game that doesn’t take long to play.

The goal is to match the cards and become the first person to lose their cards. Using special cards to play the game in your favor, Uno is a game that is easy to learn and even easier to play. 

30. Twister

Twister is a classic game where you place a mat on the floor and spin a wheel. The wheel determines which body part has to go where.

The goal for your students is not to fall, or else they’re out of the game. Twister gets more challenging the more you play, and it’s a fun way to get your students involved.

It’s also a great icebreaker, so if your students haven’t met yet, this is a great way to introduce them to one another.

31. Guess Who?

Guess Who? is a classic game where your students need to guess which character their opponent is thinking of.

This affordable game is perfect for two players, and it will keep several of your students entertained. It’s easy to play and encourages your students to think and remember the questions they’ve already asked. 

32. Clue

Clue is a classic board game for any students who enjoy mysteries. Your students need to find out who killed one of the other characters.

Students don’t know who to suspect as they find out who killed who, with what, and where. This can also be a fun game for any older students who enjoy drama.

You can always encourage your students to embrace their roles.

33. Monopoly Deal

Monopoly may not be a fast-paced game, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t quicker ways to play it.

Monopoly Deal is a fast-paced version of Monopoly that your students can play in fifteen minutes.

Depending on how long your recesses are, we can guarantee that your students will love this quicker edition of Monopoly. 

34. Top Trumps

Top Trumps are a go-to for teachers who want to find different themes their students will love. Top

Trumps aren’t only educational, but you’ll find different themes focusing on dinosaurs, TV shows, films, and many more.

Your students need to choose a card with a higher status than their opponents, with the winner being the one who has won the most rounds.

35. Mafia

Do you want to play a card game that your whole class can engage with? Mafia is one of the best games to play to encourage your students to play together.

In this game, you need to find the members of the mafia by holding votes to find the suspects. If you fail, a civilian may be their next target. If your students enjoy Among Us, then they will love Mafia.

36. Scrabble

Scrabble has always been a classic classroom board game. Your students need to think of different words to fit on the board and get the most points.

You can encourage your students to work in groups or let a small group play together. Scrabble is a great way to see how well your students’ vocabularies are improving. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that you found this guide helpful now that we have supplied you with countless resources to make indoor recess more exciting.

If you want more inspiration, feel free to explore some of our other posts – take a look at some ideas for dice games to inspire learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Keep Students Entertained During Indoor Recess?

If you have students inside when they could be playing outside, we recommend encouraging them to engage with one another in different games.

However, some students may prefer to do coloring or enjoy reading. Recess is a time for children to relax, so let them take time to choose what they want to do.

How Do You Encourage An Inclusive Recess?

If you’re worried about making recess more inclusive, consider focusing on the positive qualities of your students.

Encourage your students to engage with each other, but don’t push them. Allow your students to work with each other at their own pace.

Simon Lewis

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