Time at recess is short.

When equipment is scattered, lost, destroyed, or hoarded, fewer kids play actively.

Time that could be spent having fun is wasted looking for lost equipment or arguing over game rules.

Making matters worse, adults are often stuck with cleanup when students head back to class.

Why create a system?

  • Organizing an appropriate amount of recess equipment allows students to take ownership of positive play.
  • Students can learn where to find equipment for specific games, that the equipment belongs to the game (not an individual or group), and that all students are accountable for making sure equipment is safely returned to be used again tomorrow.
  • Establishing and communicating norms for expected positive behavior supports inclusive, fair play and helps students better address conflicts.

Here’s how to get started

  • Adults should design and initiate equipment management systems.
  • In time, students can be offered a leadership opportunity (or a reward for good behavior) to manage the systems. This allows adults to shift focus issues revolving around equipment to supporting the system in general.
  • Storage and distribution systems should be simple and clear.
  • Place equipment near designated game stations to encourage students to initiate play on their own.

Watch Coach Wayne show his fifth graders the new equipment at the start of the year:

What you can try this week

  • Take stock of your recess equipment, where it’s stored, and the amount of equipment on your playground. Too much or too little equipment can hamper inclusive play.
  • Evaluate the way equipment is distributed and collected at recess. Collection systems support shared responsibility and accountability for equipment among students.
  • Find 2–3 ways to involve students or assign student leaders to manage equipment.