- July 30, 2018 at 7:00 PM #50737
Recess is an important part of the day. What are favorite games in your classroom? Do you have a handy list to refer to when you sense that a much played one is wearing thin? Do you have students choose or do you as the teacher choose most of the games? Do you always play with them? Do you appoint “recess helpers” to take out and bring in the equipment?
- August 4, 2018 at 11:52 AM #51066
A favorite game among lower elementary students and teachers is Jug-A-Lug. It is easy to explain and easy for younger children to understand. One game can take up the whole recess which has helped eliminate unhealthy competition (the kind that fosters either bragging or arguing). We play it in our gym or outside on the playground.
The rules are simple.
You need two teams and six “jugs” (we use kick balls). The playing area needs a center line and back line boundaries. Each team puts three jugs at the back of their playing area. The object of the game is for one team to capture all of the jugs.
A player from one team will attempt to steal a jug from the other team by getting the jug and carrying it across the center line to their own side. If he makes it safely across the center line the jug goes to the back of his side. The other team may attempt to steal it back.
If a player crosses the center line into the opposing team’s side he can be caught by that team. If he is caught he stands prisoner at the spot where he was tagged until a team mate can tag him free. Both players may then go back to their side unhindered (but they have to return to their side, they can’t try for a jug or free another team mate.)
A player may only steal one jug or free one prisoner at a time.
Various classroom adaptions have been made according to the ability of the players. One classroom allows the jugs to be thrown or passed to another team mate as long as the jug is carried over the line by a player. In grades one and two we use the rule that the same player that picks up the jug must make it the whole way across the line himself. Then there is the issue of whether students can guard (as in stand very close to them to wave off the invaders) the jugs and prisoners. Our rule is no guarding jugs closer than half the team’s area (a player may chase and catch an opposing player in that area, they just can’t camp out beside one of the jugs) and one guard per prisoner.
I will be interested to hear other ideas also.
- August 4, 2018 at 7:10 PM #51067
One tactic we use to hinder players from guarding too closely is that the person who is caught may tag an opposing player if they come within their reach. It keeps the guard at a distance and the caught player can still contribute to the game and needs to pay attention.
- August 5, 2018 at 4:07 PM #51070
Travis that is a great idea! Never thought of that one! Like you said it addresses the guard distance issue as well as keeps the prisoner from simply zoning out in frustration with not being able to still participate in the game. Any guidelines on guarding the jugs? Carolyn, I didn’t quite understand the “no guarding jugs closer than half the team’s area” part. Jug-a-lug is a great game. I remember Jonas Sauder one time commenting on tweaking games with things like: must run in pairs and that kind of thing. What are other game favorites?
- August 11, 2018 at 7:51 PM #51368
Betty, the basic idea is to not guard the jugs too closely. We have a loose idea that the front part of the playing area (closest to the center line) for each team is where the players for that team should be unless they are chasing or guarding an opposing player. Players are not to “hang-out” in the back part of their playing area. It is a loosely defined guideline. We don’t use lines or mark the area off.
- August 7, 2018 at 2:33 PM #51097
The energy of students can be utilized to good advantage at recess by having them take needed equipment outside, set up/take down boundary markers, and take responsibility for making sure all equipment is brought indoors and stowed properly.
Also, invite your students to invent new games, perhaps by modifying or adapting existing games. It’s a good way to stimulate their thinking: encourages them to consider the elements of a good game, gives them first hand experience in developing necessary rules, and provides opportunity to experience the satisfaction of enjoying something they have “created.”
- August 7, 2018 at 10:18 PM #51103
Travis, what happens then when the person who is caught tags an opposing player? Is that player then caught? If so, where does he stand since he was caught on his own side? I like these ideas because this game always stalls at our school because of close guarding.
- August 8, 2018 at 9:55 PM #51121
I use this idea in capture the flag or prisoners base. In those games the person who gets caught goes to the base on the other side. In jug a lug they could go across to a designated spot on the other side.
- August 11, 2018 at 8:12 PM #51369
Dodge ball is another favorite for inside games (we have a nice gym we can play it in). And, dodge ball is a game with a myriad ways of playing.
Our favorite way:
The players are divided into two teams. They like to use as many kick balls as they can get their hands on–usually between six to ten (but we have a large area and often as many as 25 students in one game.) You need a center line and a prison line at the back of each team’s playing area. If a student gets hit with a ball before it touches the ground he goes to the opposing team’s prison area. He can go free if he can get his hands on a free ball without leaving the prison area. (This is a variation of the idea that if he can get his hands on a ball and then hit an opposing team member he is free. This is less complicated for younger players.) The object is to get all of one team caught in the opposing prison.
Some issues we’ve dealt with include
Does it count if they get hit on the head? It depends on the year, the age, and the teacher’s preference.
Can one reach across the center line to get a ball? Usually no, but again depends on the teacher’s preference.
What about the timid girls who dislike dodgeball because of the bigger, athletic boys who throw hard? Some years we will divide the court into a hard throw section and a soft throw section. If you don’t want to get hit by a hard ball, stay in the soft throw section. If you want to use all of your skill, you may do so in the hard throw section but if you throw hard in the soft throw section you are caught.
What about hitting a just freed person as soon as they cross the center line? If this becomes a problem we usually say that no one can hit them until they turn around. This usually happens when you have skilled players taking advantage of unskilled players.
And if it gets down to one or two non-skilled players who are not caught and the game is dragging…the teacher declares a winner and we start over.
- August 14, 2018 at 8:08 AM #51395
We have a bunch of these Voit Softi coated foam balls, and they really improve dodge ball and its variants. They’re very soft, and can be thrown hard without stinging. Much safer and less scary for the timid than rubber playground balls. They’re also a good size, in between a softball and a volleyball.
- August 18, 2018 at 11:07 PM #51600
Good to know. Do you have an idea of the lifetime of these balls? Can you get several years out of them?
- August 31, 2018 at 4:45 PM #51838
Sorry for the late reply. The balls we have are at least a couple years old, and some are older. Almost all of them are still in excellent condition. It is worth noting that they’re mostly used indoors. But yes, they should last a few years.
- August 18, 2018 at 11:22 PM #51601
Back to Betty’s original questions about choosing and supervising games. In first and second grades we usually let the students take turns choosing the games. We will often specify if it should be an indoor or outdoor game. However, I’ve noticed that the game repertoire has shrunk over the years. Second graders are picking games that they learned about in first grade and then the next year’s second graders pick from those games and the variety lessens. So we teachers will step in and introduce games we haven’t played yet. Do we play with the students? It depends on the game. They are always supervised and I like to play with them as much as possible. However, for some games such as Kick the Can it is easier to keep tabs on the game if I am not off hiding somewhere. And as much as possible I like students to set up their own game equipment.
In the older grades, softball is the chosen main recess game during warmer weather. Everyone takes for granted they will be playing softball if the field is playable. For other recess games I think the teachers often let students take turns choosing games. At times they’ve had students write a game selection on a slip of paper and collected them in a jar. The teacher may also include a few games if she is wishing for variety. (They may have had two jars, and indoor jar and an outdoor jar.) Then a slip of paper is pulled each day to designate the game that will be played. This has helped cut down on peer pressure towards or against certain games.
- August 28, 2018 at 8:56 PM #51663
Hockey with swimming noodles.
- September 22, 2018 at 9:33 PM #52065
Peter, you say the balls are used mostly for indoor play. Do you recommend using them outdoors at all? Would the outdoors quickly tear them up?
- September 24, 2018 at 4:34 PM #52075
Regular contact with sticks and stones would probably tear them up before too long, but I think they’d hold up fine if used in grassy areas. And they might absorb moisture if used in wet grass, taking some time to dry out.
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