Socially-Distanced Recess Ideas

If you are attending school in person right now like we are, you likely have wondered what your kiddos can do at recess to stay socially-distanced with minimal contact. Our playground is off limits, but there are still plenty of activities kids can do to expel all that energy. I have compiled a list of socially-distanced recess ideas to help! I have separated recess activities into two categories: Outdoor activities and Indoor Activities.

Outdoor Recess Activities

These activities can all be played outside with very little to no contact to keep your students socially-distanced.

Hot lava

In this game, students try to cross the “rocks” without falling into the hot lava. The “rocks” can be pieces of cardboard, brown construction paper, pieces of wood or logs, or anything outside that students can step from one to another.

Who’s the Leader

Have students sit cross-legged in a circle. Choose someone to be Detective and have them go where they can’t see the group. Choose someone in the group to be Leader and make sure everyone knows who it is. Have the Leader do something like clapping, arm circles, foot tapping, etc. Everyone else in the group must try to copy what the Leader is doing. Call the Detective back in to stand in the middle of the circle. The Leader will change the motion every so often when the Detective isn’t looking and all the other players must change their actions to mirror the Leader. The Detective has three chances to guess the Leader. You can have the Leader be the Detective in the next round.


This game is like hide-and-seek, but in reverse. One (or two) students hide and everyone else goes on a manhunt to find them.

laughing Game

Have students spread out in a circle. The lead person walks around the circle trying to make others laugh by telling jokes, making funny faces, dancing, etc. Set a timer. If someone laughs, they sit down. The person with the most laughs at the end is the winner.

Scavenger Hunt

You can play scavenger hunt at recess with a true hunt with clues or play a simple version of the game with no prep. Play with colors (Find something red.), with nature (Find a rock.), or with clouds (Find a cloud that looks like a horse.).

Crab Soccer

Play soccer while in the crab position. The only mandatory equipment is a ball. This game can tire out even the most energetic of kids!

Obstacle course

My kids love to work through an obstacle course. A simple course can be made with chalk (jump from circle to circle, hop on one foot from this line to this line, etc.). A course can also be made with minimal equipment, like a few cones, hula hoops, jump ropes, and a frisbee.

Other Traditional activities

These activities have been played at recess forever, but you might have forgotten a few. All of these require no contact or can be altered slightly to keep students socially-distanced. Add some criteria and turn anything into a game.

  • hopscotch
  • jump rope
  • Mother May I?
  • Red light, Green light
  • chalk
  • hula hoop
  • paper airplane contest
  • yoga
  • Simon Says

Socially-distanced Indoor Recess Activities

These activities can be played in the classroom with minimal to no contact to keep your students socially-distanced.

go Noodle

Kids love Go Noodle videos! Visit for access to hundreds of movement and mindfulness videos.

I spy

The leader finds an object in the room that is visible to all students. They then give clues based on the object for others to try to guess. Example: “I spy with my little eye something green.” The student who guesses the object then takes the place of the leader.

Freeze dance

Students dance, but must freeze when the music stops. You can play that students who don’t freeze are out until the next round. You can also add in a variation of the game using group dances like the Hokey Pokey or the Chicken Dance.

Activity Boxes

Encourage imaginative play with activity boxes. Give students a box or bag of materials inside. Ideas include Legos, math manipulatives, pipe cleaners, plastic cups for towers, buttons for sorting, rubber stamps, etc. Enlist parents to send in materials or prepare boxes/ bags for you. Just remember to sanitize materials after use!

rock, paper, scissors tournament

Take the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors to a whole new level by setting up a tournament. Print a free bracket off the Internet to make it even more official!

learning games

Students love playing learning games like Kahoot, Boom™ cards (Learn how to use them here), and other learning center games. Spend some time inside allowing students to choose a learning game to play. Fun and educational…thats a win for everyone!

other traditional activities

Alter these traditional activities as needed to allow for social-distancing.

  • Heads-up Seven-up
  • Charades
  • Pictionary

I hope this list gives you some fun socially-distanced ideas to use during recess!