Before the start of the school year, teachers often envision an idyllic classroom community: communication, teamwork, peer support—all looks great, and sometimes it really, truly is.
But like siblings in a family, this tight-knit group can sometimes start to bicker within close quarters, especially when outdoor recess isn’t an option and they don’t have an opportunity to get their energy out.
If you’re noticing that students are being challenged by communication or with getting along, it might just be time for this group indoor recess activity that brings everyone back together!
The only thing this low-prep brain break requires of you is to have a hula hoop on hand which, by the way, can be used in many other ways to provide activity with brief physical breaks.
Recommended Grade Level: Elementary and Middle
SEL Skill(s): Communication, Cooperation
Duration: 30 minutes
Materials: Hula hoop(s)
Indoor Recess Activity Instructions
Prompt: To begin this activity, place a hula hoop diagonally across your body and gather students to join hands in a circle. Tell them they will play a game of Pass the Hoop.
Say: For this game, I am going to ask a question to us all. I will take my turn answering and without letting go of our hands, I will pass the hoop over my neck and arms to the next player. Then, they will have a turn to answer the question.
Remind the students that it will take teamwork to keep the circle together and that it is important to listen respectfully when someone is taking their turn with the hoop.
Play: Ask the students as a group one question of your choosing. Before passing the hoop to the first student, be sure to answer it yourself, modeling the process. The hoop can travel around the circle for as many rounds and questions as you like, but every student should have a chance to answer each question and pass the hoop before starting over.
Note: If students are practicing social distancing, you can have them roll the hoop to each other.
Questions can be as quick or reflective as you like, ranging from What’s your favorite ice cream to Share a time you were scared.
Variation: You can also use this activity to prompt inquiry when starting a new unit (For example, How do you think a caterpillar becomes a butterfly? What do you want to learn about volcanoes?) and allow students to state their ideas and wonders.
Closure: When the hoop has traveled all the way around, remind students how well they perform as a community when they listen to each other and work together!