Lane huffed and puffed while counting up to 30.
“Oh, no,” the 9-year-old said, struggling to hold the plank pose on the carpet of L.H. Tanglen Elementary in Hopkins Public Schools.
From yoga poses to interactive videos, elementary schools around the Twin Cities are finding ways to keep students like Lane safe from extreme cold while still getting their recess time.
“We realized that indoor recess can oftentimes lead to rough afternoons if students don’t have the chance to burn that energy off,” said Jim Hebeisen, principal at L.H. Tanglen.
At Lane’s school, counselor Abby Bracke introduced aerobic and yoga stations for students as an indoor recess option this year. Students got their first shot at the activities during the recent cold snap.
Students tried whistle breathing, jumping jacks and tree poses at eight stations around the school on Thursday.
Lane, a fourth-grader, finds the planking station to be the most difficult.
“It’s really hard, kind of,” he said. “You have to hold your body up with just your arms.”
At another station, students performed 25 jumping jacks and breathed through their teeth for a snake breathing exercise.
“The breathing ones help me calm down because sometimes I get stressed out, and I want to hit everything,” said Javion, a 10-year-old fourth-grader.
Bracke said a large part of the exercises is teaching students self-control and to be courteous while other classes are going on.
“We are all learning it together and figuring it out and seeing what works best,” she said. “The kids have a good attitude about it.”
From dance to iPads
Indoor recess gives teachers a chance to try out different activities. Although some rely on board games and iPads, other teachers like Beth Verkinderen at Eastview Elementary School in Lakeville turn to technology to keep their students active.
Verkinderen puts on a “Just Dance” video and has her third-grade students copy the moves of the dancers and bounce around to songs like One Direction’s “Best Song Ever.”
“We try to get as much activity that gets their heart beat up in the classroom without disrupting too much of the day,” Verkinderen said.
GoNoodle is another popular indoor option, with videos that encourage students to follow exercise and popular dance moves.
First-grade teacher Daeaun Messer uses indoor recess time at Birchview Elementary School in Plymouth for students to practice yoga by using a Cosmic Kids Yoga video on YouTube.
Some schools take advantage of open gym time to let their students run around. But that’s not possible at places like Linwood Monroe Arts Plus Lower Campus in St. Paul, where the room used as a gym also functions as the cafeteria and performing arts space. Zach Wilson said his 7-year-old daughter typically draws and plays on an iPad during indoor recess. She really misses being able to run around, he said.
“She just needs to get up and move,” he said.
Students in John Clay’s Eden Lake Elementary School class get excited when they hear about indoor recess. That means his third-graders in Eden Prairie get to play with robots.
On Thursday students used apps to code the robots to play the xylophone in the school atrium.
Indoor recess has been such a hit at L.H. Tanglen that Bracke has incorporated it into daily schooling.
“Kids need a break,” she said. “We are using it as behavioral intervention. Some kids just need a quick reset.”