Get Outside for Some ‘Recess’ With Your Kids!

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image: Chronicle Books
Image: Chronicle Books

It might still be cold and snowy where you are, but here in northern Arizona, we are having an unseasonably warm late-winter. Some days bring 70+ degree weather, and many of our trees are blooming, or even leafing. I hope that doesn’t bode for an especially hot summer, but it has meant people have been getting outside earlier. So whether you live somewhere that’s already warm, or you’re looking toward the coming months, be ready with some new ideas for your kids (or yourself) for outdoor activities. It’s important for people of all ages to spend active time out of doors.

Recess at school isn’t what it used to be. There is less of it, and there are fewer structures on playgrounds. But sometimes all you need is some blacktop and a few tools: a rope, a stick of chalk, a ball. Sometimes not even that. But you don’t even need to be in school to enjoy some recess time.

The new book Recess: From Dodgeball to Double Dutch: Classic Games for Players of Today runs us through all of the traditional activities played during recess (plus some unfamiliar to me: Stoopball? Buttball?). If you’ve forgotten the rules to Four Square, this book has you covered. Aren’t sure how to set up for Red Rover? Not to worry. foggy on how the rounds of Jacks go? Fear not. This book covers the rules and setup for more than 150 games, most of which you’ll recognize from your own childhood.

Ode to Playground Equipment. Image: Chronicle Books
Ode to Playground Equipment. Image: Chronicle Books

The book begins discussing the value of recess for both kids and adults. Play, outdoor time, it’s all important. Then, it clearly goes over the rules of how to establish the rules of play (no headshots, no cheating, etc.), and how to take a Time Out. This is important in any game you play. If someone gets overwhelmed or hurt, everyone needs to be clear on how to stop gameplay. There is also help on how to decide who goes first and how to pick teams. There is even an ode to traditional, celebrated playground equipment, some of which is sadly disappearing from the school yard landscape (such as merry-go-rounds).

The rest of Recess is filled with information on the games, divided up into sections on types of games, including Hand Games, Dexterity & Mental Games, Jumping & Rope Games, Ball Games, and Contact Sports. The individual game sections include diagrams for setup (with measurements as required), a description of the game, what the object is, how to play, game stats, fun facts, tips, and variations. The book is laid out beautifully and very clearly. Its format is a bit large to stick in your back pocket, but you’re likely to be carrying other things with you anyway, such as a beloved, textured, red playground ball (remember those?).

My beloved playground ball. Image: Chronicle Books
My beloved playground ball. Image: Chronicle Books

Recess is filled with ideas for playtime with your kids, playtime without your kids, or for your kids to learn more traditional games to share with their friends. There are plenty of game options for one person all the way up to a whole classroom. This book is perfect to get everyone outdoors again in the spring and summer, and it’s a great value at about $15-20.

For even more ideas of games to play outside, see my post, “30 Classic Games for Simple Outdoor Play.”

Note: A copy of this book was provided for review purposes.

Get the Official GeekDad Books!