Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Structured Recess Intervention: Recess Spinner

Another great behavior intervention is structured recess.

I call this a “recess spinner”.  The idea was actually born from a discussion I had with my principal my first year teaching.  I had a very challenging student (he went to a Self-Contained Behavior Unit for second grade).  While he did okay in class, he was out of control at recess.  The other teachers were so frustrated with him, and frankly, the other kids were totally sick of his naughty behaviors.  And of all of the children I have ever met, this kid really needed recess… so just taking away recess was not really a viable option. After identifying the problem (he needed structure in his play, while still allowing him some freedom), we came up with an idea.  I needed something that would allow him to go complete a task, but then check back with the on-duty teacher frequently.  Thus, the “Recess Spinner” was born!
This is the front… the spinner is just a paperclip stuck in the middle.

 I always make more than one at a time because being out in the wind and weather, it does get trashed pretty quickly… but it is so easy to make that it’s no big deal when you have to replace them.  (I also give one to the lunch recess aides- they keep it with their supplies.)

Here’s how it works:
The child comes up to the teacher on duty, spins the spinner (which is just a paper clip), and then the teacher gives them a “mission” to complete.  The child then goes and does their “mission” as quickly as possible and comes back, giving the teacher a high-five and saying “Mission accomplished!” or “Mission complete!” Then they spin again!

One side of the spinner are four categories:

·         Hop around

·         Run to

·         Slide down

·         Teacher’s choice

Once the category is selected, the teacher gives a number and location to go with it (i.e. Hop around the basketball hoop four times). 

The backside gives ideas for variations for each of those four choices.

·         Hop around

o   Four Square board

o   Playground equipment

o   Three trees

Or you can change the verb

o   Skip

o   Tightrope walk

o   Gallop

o   Spin

o   Dance

o   Lunge

o   Crab crawl

o   Sideways

o   Backwards

·         Run to

o   Fence

o   Trees

o   Tetherball court

o   Basketball court

o   Wall

You can also change to “run around” instead of “run to”.

·         Slide down

o   Change how many times

o   Change how to get to the slide (up the stairs, up the ladder, across the bridge, etc.)

·         Teacher’s choice

o   Monkey bars

o   Spin again

o   Sit down and count to 20

(Really anything you can think of)

The first student that I used this with, we had to keep him away from highly populated areas (so if there were lots of kids on the slide, we would make his “Mission” go away from the group to some place less populated).
I can guarantee that you will have a group of kids that want to play. Why? Because many children really do not know how to create their own activities for their 15 minutes of free play.  They need the structure just as much as the challenging student.  I always encourage other kids to join in—it’s great, structured, social interaction and it allows your most challenging student some positive peer attention. (Let’s say the target student’s name is Johnny.  The spinner is Johnny’s.  He is responsible for spinning it, but he is welcome to invite other friends to spin the spinner.  Well, if you are a child playing along with Johnny, you are likely to be very nice to him so that he will ask you to take a turn.)

You must have buy-in from all of the teachers that will be out with the student.  They need to not only be willing to follow through with it, but have a positive attitude about it. J Remember, recess is supposed to be fun! The idea is to provide the student will controlled freedom- and an opportunity to get out some of their wiggles!

It really is the most-effective intervention I have ever seen for recess.  It provides structure, while still allowing the child to feel independent. 

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