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Living in Alberta means coping with tough weather sometimes. In schools, outdoor recess is often cancelled due to cold or rain. Unfortunately, this often results in sitting around instead of moving around. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Read on to find out how to make your school’s indoor play spaces work to the max.

Maximize the Gym
The gymnasium is the most common place for indoor activity. What sometimes happens, however, is that the space becomes underused. Perhaps only 10 kids are playing basketball, for example, while the rest stand around waiting their turn.

So what do you do with the 100 kids running around the gym for indoor recess? Here are some ideas:

Many kids can move at the same time and will enjoy line dances and “wedding” dances such as the YMCA and the chicken dance. Be sure to let them choose the music!

Modify games. Throw out the official rules and try something else! Consider something like blanket volleyball where teams of six to 10 kids hold onto the edge of a bedsheet and launch the ball over the net.

Create more courts. String up a rope between the regular nets to create more courts, and consider more than two teams per court.

Play simple games. Try games like tag and capture the flag. These games involve everyone, exclude no one, and require little gear.

Maximize the Classroom
Classrooms are probably the most underused space for play in a school. Yes, there are desks and books and shelves, but there is also space and room for physical activity! Try a few of the following:

Desk relays. If you have rows, students can pass an object back and forth over their heads. When the object gets to the back row, that student goes to the front and all others move one seat back. Time the rows and have them try and beat their records.

Juggling. This is an amazing activity to stimulate the mind and hands. Use plastic grocery bags or scarves, or make your own juggling balls with balloons and rice.

Yoga. Students can do yoga at their desk or standing beside it. Great for relaxation as well as refreshing your mind.

Cup stacking. This is another great mind-building physical activity that encourages hand-eye coordination and focus.

Maximize Other Spaces

So what about the rest of the school? Empty hallways at recess or lunch are great for relays, bowling, hopscotch or fitness circuits. If your school has connecting hallways, you could even set up a walking “track” with stations for strength and flexibility.

Most schools have an eating area of some type: consider foldable tables so they can be easily cleared away for dance, fitness or games.

The library can also be a space to juggle or roll out exercise balls and mats for some core stability.

Some schools have empty classrooms or underused portables. Consider setting up an exercise room with balls, bands, mats, dumbbells and medicine balls, so older students (and staff!) can work out.

Indoor recess due to bad weather does not have to mean a lack of activity or play. Take a closer look at the spaces available in your school and improve the physical activity environment. Be creative, invest in some basic equipment, and find the space to keep those kids moving!

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Learn More
Daily Physical Activity Handbook
Alberta Education has created this handbook full of fun activities.

Scarf Juggling
Alberta Education offers these step-by-step juggling instructions. Students can start with scarves or plastic bags to master the basic skill and then move onto more difficult objects.

Be Fit for Life Network
The Be Fit For Life Network offers a number of resources for increasing physical activity in schools, including classroom yoga cards and resistance band exercises.

Ever Active Schools Resources
Ever Active Schools has a number of resources to support physical activity in schools.

Ontario Ministry of Education Healthy Schools
Ontario’s Ministry of Education has developed some helpful resources about daily physical activity (DPA) in schools.

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