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Keeping Kids Engaged During Indoor Recess

When the snow is blowing or it’s pouring rain, it’s a sure sign that recess will be indoors.  Andrea Kenna is an art teacher at Landmark Academy at Reunion. She says the changing weather means teachers have to get creative when it comes to finding ways for kids to burn off energy and stay engaged during the school day.

"I went to my principal and suggested encouraging hands-on play, movement, and activities that enhance creativity. I found a link on Pinterest with various ideas and shared it school-wide. It's essential to move away from just sitting in front of screens," She stated after a particularly cold stretch earlier this year.

On indoor recess days, Kenna advocates for play-based centers to foster creativity, incorporating activities like blocks, marble games, drawing pictures, origami, Play-Doh, and geoboards.

Students playing with Play Doh

For group activities, Kenna has found classic games like Heads Up Seven Up, Hangman, and Four Corners are often popular with students of all ages. She also encourages setting up free-choice centers, enabling students to move between tables with different activities, promoting social interaction, and essential skills like conflict resolution.

Students playing with toy animals

For individual activities, Kenna feels it’s important to give students options. "I feel like when kids can discover on their own, they master it better than if you're showing them what to do. It's about exploration and building those neural pathways," she remarked. Techniques like these have helped Landmark Academy outperform the local district for the past 14 years.

Student with tower she built

Kenna's approach goes beyond engaging students; it creates a positive culture in her art room. Students are excited to participate, motivated by the freedom of choice and the multi-sensory experience she provides. She encourages teachers and parents to explore alternatives to screen time, suggesting activities that involve guided drawing videos on YouTube and emphasizing the detrimental effects excessive technology use can have on creativity.

Kenna shared that as students spend more time on computers, there’s often a decline in fine motor skills and hand strength, which is part of the reason she started an after-school art club. It offers students activities that allow them to use their hands instead of relying solely on technology.

"Kids love to just be given options and the freedom to choose what they want to do. Offering a variety of materials, from paper and drawing tools to recyclables and masking tape, allows them to unleash their creativity," she explained.

Great job Ms. Kenna on providing fun ways to keep students engaged and learning! 

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About Landmark Academy at Reunion 
Landmark Academy at Reunion is a tuition-free, public charter school in Commerce City, Colorado, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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