50 Minute Recess: An Experience in a K Classroom

As I sit in a professional development on Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Kinder, toggling between Pinterest & Facebook, I found something that made my heart soar. A proposed bill that I have seen become law or policy in other states. A bill focusing on the needs of students in a nonpartisan way, AZ HB 2082: The 50 Minute Daily Recess Bill. As I sat with my colleagues, all who were kindergarten teachers, I began to smile, then fidget, then unable to contain my excitement any longer, I began to pass my phone around for all to read!

I am sure Queen, We Are The Champions was playing during this exchange.

You see, I had spent the summer intentionally sharing & making comments on articles that showed how recess was done in other states. I had a conversation with my administrator at the beginning of the year, asking about additional recess, how to incorporate it in the school day, and proposing solutions for “instructional time”. (I believe recess CAN be instructional time, but that is another blog!  ) 

More recess was my mission!

I learned how Rhode Island made it a law that students in grades K-6th, have recess for 20 minutes a day, calling it a students RIGHT. I delved deeper into the Liink Project, in districts in Texas and Oklahoma, that focused on recess and character development. A sample schedule of an elementary school in Texas shows Kindergarten & 1st grade students enjoying recess up to 4 times a day, for a total of 60 minutes!

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It wasn’t enough for me to look on and think, “Well isn’t that nice!” I needed to experience what a 50 minute daily recess could mean for both my students and myself. Ever the advocate, I asked for support in trying to build in 50 minutes of recess in my day.

I was supported and this is what followed, these are snippets of conversations between students and direct Q & A.

This is like a brain break, like  GoNoodle, but I can run, swing, or slide!”- S

“You be Baby Ironman & I will be Baby Batman” -D “Yeah then we can morph & become adults!”-A (Student conversation as they prepared to plan & play a game.)

When asked why having more recess was important:

“Well you know I have lots of energy, so we can play I can my energies out! I think that’s a good idea for me!” – A

“My mom says I need fresh air & exercise! That’s what recess is!” -S

Though student interactions were important and informative my experience was equally meaningful.

I noticed more risk taking, students who weren’t confident on monkey bars, wanted to ensure that they tried and I SAW. Students who are often reserved in class, wanted to engage me in conversation, regarding the games they played and the rules the followed. I found myself focusing on student conversations in a different way, learning more about student interests, wonders & needs.

During the additional recess, I found myself more present.

As it stands I don’t see my kids during their one recess a day, as that is my lunch time. I miss the opportunity to connect with my students when they are the most open, being encouraged to be free, talk & take risks, an additional recess spent with my students allowed me to see that.

I believe that additional recess isn’t just about students, it can be about the educators too. 

How can you use an additional recess to engage students? How can this impact student relationships, and ultimately learning?


Danielle Brown

Danielle Brown

Sierra Vista, Arizona

My name is Danielle Brown, and I am a PROUD, National Board Certified (EC-GEN) public school Kindergarten teacher in Southeast Arizona. I will begin my seventh year teaching, with one year as the arts integration specialist and 6 years as a kindergarten teacher. I have a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona and am currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership.

I believe in Board Certification and I support teachers, as a Candidate Support Provider, in their work to achieve Board Certification. I am continuing my journey of teacher leadership from the classroom as a 2016 ASCD Influence Leader, focusing on engaging educators in policy, as well as working as a National Policy Teacher Fellow with Hope Street Group, as well as a new member on the Arizona Teacher Solutions® Team.
I love connecting with other educators, staying solutions oriented and growing as a professional.

You can find me on Twitter @TeachDB17, reach out, connect and let’s grow together.

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