Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Importance of Outdoor Play: Free Resources

    My grandson just started 3rd grade and I was so surprised when he told me that he only had 10 minutes for recess after lunch. Last year he only had 20 minutes. It seems with all the high stakes testing that children have less time to just play outdoors. Personally I can't sit in my house couped up all day without getting out in the fresh air, even if it's 99 degrees outside. Why do we do that to children? I remember asking my students what their favorite subject was and most of the students said "Recess". Believe it or not  we let children go out and play in Alaska if the temperature was above 10 degrees! Here are a few great reasons why outdoor play is so important:
  • Playing outdoors is multi-sensory. Students use all five senses in different ways that they aren't able to do in their classrooms.
  • Informal play can help students connect to formal learning. Think about science lessons about the change of seasons or plant. Students can actually see real-life changes in leaves or plants that they learned about in their classrooms.
  • Outdoor play can help develop creativity in children. 
  • Outdoor play helps reduce stress.  We all know that experts say that exercise helps reduce stress in adults. Letting children run off some steam will help them be more focused when they return to the classroom.
  • Outdoor play can promote leadership skills.  Many children may not excel in the classroom but may excel in sports. It will give them a chance to "shine" outdoors where others will look up to them.
  • Outdoor play can promote cooperative play. When playing games, children have to work together to achieve a common goal. 
  • Outdoor play can promote communication and vocabulary development.  Students need time to communicate and negotiate meaning when they aren't sure about rules or how to do something. They can also expand their vocabulary with exploring the outside world. This is great for ESL students learning to speak English.
You can read the position statement written by the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education by clicking HERE. It is a great read and proof of why children need recess time. You can also read Sarah Taylor's Research finding of here 2011 Study of the Importance of Play in Elementary School by clicking HERE.  Scholastic also has a great article, " Recess Makes Kids Smarter" which you may like to read by clicking HERE.

Here is a great website to give you some fun indoor recess ideas when it's raining or snowing. Just click on the picture below.
Here is another website you may want to check out with fun easy activities for outdoor play. Just click on the picture below.
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Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. I hope you have a wonderful and safe Labor Day Weekend.

How much time do your students get for recess?


  1. We just had our staggered days. The students had brought in a mystery bag from home with something to share. We also used magnifying glasses to focus on the details in Miss Bindergarten Goes to Kindergarten. When we went outside to play on the playground, this small group formed a team of detectives. They were very excited and vocal to pick their roles and their mystery. They did this all on their own and had a large space to play in that couldn't have been done in the classroom.

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    1. Sounds like so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I work at a self-contained school for children with autism, and our students get 30 minutes outside time (more if they are in the before and/or after care program). Outside time is so important! It gets the kids moving, gives them a safe place to decompress and have a break, and really helps their requesting and social skills with their peers. Our playground isn't very big, I wish it was larger...I have so many group games/sports that I would love to do with my students! I incorporate a lot of movement into our day, and we have onsite occupational therapy to give the kids more movement and input, but nothing can replace outside time.

  4. 10 minutes for all classes at my elementary school. (K-5)

  5. Arlene, my class last year was a living testimony to your blog post! Luckily my class is situated in a way where we could scoot outside for frequent breaks and I truly believe that helped with both behaviour and academic success last year. I've mentioned it many times in blogs!
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

  6. Great post, Arlene! I shared it with my FB followers. I'm sure they will enjoy it, too.