Recess is more than an opportunity for your students to let off steam. It is just as important as a regular subject. Most students say recess is their favorite subject. I believe students should have half an hour of recess in the morning and at least ten minutes in the afternoon. There is nothing wrong with letting the students run around for five minutes. However, certainly at the beginning of the year outdoor breaks should be in a controlled environment. Every day, tell the class what the objective (Outcome) will be. Some ideas are: be a friend to someone so they don't play alone, share equipment, be kind, smile, include everyone, say yes if someone wants to play with you, people's feelings are more important than winning, exercise to stay healthy, etc.
When you go outside with your class, have them run around the play area while you time them for five minutes. After five minutes, students can continue to run or go off to play a game. Gradually increase this to ten minutes. The teacher should circulate and smile so students know you care about them. Some people have been making jokes because traditional recess has changed over time. There is no more wall ball, dodge ball, or target games. These games are not helpful. It is wrong to think everyone must get a trophy or no one can ever be out. Let's take the game Dodge Ball. Everyone is in a circle. (Remember everyone has a number). The teacher calls out several numbers to go inside the circle. The aggressive kids around the circle run where ever the ball is and forcefully throw the ball to the least athletic student, getting them out quickly. Then the students that are out stand along the circle bored for the rest of the game. Where is the fun?
Our playground had a straight track with about 6 lines. We would play a game called Endless Run. Put the class three or four in a line behind the track. When the class is ready, the teacher blows the whistle. This game is not a race, it is a movement game. The first student in each line begins and travels down the line. The rules are eyes have to be open, and no one can move backward. Students are free to hop, skip, run, leap, walk, gallop, etc. When they get to the end of the line they turn around continue with their movement until they get back to the end of the line. The next student in line now has a turn. After five or six minutes blow whistle and call out free time. Be aware some students will complain they are too tired. Remind students they can walk if they get tired.
What do you do with chronic students who do not pass in their homework? Do not take away recess without warning them first. I would suggest not having them miss more than ten minutes of recess, unless they refuse to work on their homework while outside. Then all bets are off. Before students go outside, have them take either their missed homework or alternative work you pass out. If all the students have the same paper, they are more likely to finish if you allow them to work in pairs. When complete, they put homework attached to their clipboard in a pile, and then go play. What do you do for recess?