Rainy days might provide excellent inspiration for poetry or painting but missing playtimes and lunchtimes because of the weather raises a number of issues which need to be addressed so that everyone stays stress free and able to concentrate on their teaching and learning. The best advice is to get the children outside for a break, no matter how short, so that they can run around and expel some energy.
If you and the class have been stuck in all morning and over lunchtime then wait for the rain to subside to a small drizzle before getting everyone to don coats and move out to the playground for some running and playing. The children really won’t melt if hit by a few raindrops. They aren’t snowflakes yet. Both you and your pupils will welcome the opportunity to get some fresh air despite it being a bit moist. However, if there is a downpour all day long then use some of the ideas below to help maintain a stress free classroom.
Just as you have routines for lining up in the classroom and packing away equipment then you need routines as to what happens during a wet playtime and lunchtime. Ensuring that the class are well trained and understand the routines will produce a classroom environment centred on learning rather than fussing and moaning.
Appoint some children are monitors who will be in charge of collecting any wet play games and equipment for the rest of the class to use. The monitors can bring out the games and equipment stored in a classroom cupboard and should be held responsible for making sure that everything is packed away at the end of the break. You can select different monitors for each term to reward behaviour and attainment.
Make sure that the class understand exactly when playtime ends so that the children know to be sat down at their desks or on the carpet ready for the next activity. If you have a wet lunchtime then the children should know to be sat at their desks reading quietly ready for the start of the afternoon’s lessons. Get the dinner staff onside to ensure that the class start packing wet playtime activities in plenty of time. Integrate your reward system into wet playtimes and lunchtimes so that children can be rewarded and punished for their behaviour or actions when in the classroom. Explain your reward systems to the dinner staff so that there is a consistent approach to how children are expected to behave.
If you expect a wet lunchtime then you need to ensure that any messy activities are packed away to avoid any accidents or spillages during the lunch hour. It is probably not a good idea to leave painting equipment or other similar resources out on the tables for the children to fiddle with during a wet break. Temptation should be avoided to maintain a stress free learning environment. You can share responsibilities with a teaching colleague so that you don’t have to supervise the classroom for the entire break. Teachers in the same year group could share wet playtime cover so that you have a chance to grab a drink or collect your thoughts away from the children.
Wet Playtime Activities
If you keep the class busy and provide them with a selection of activities then there is less chance of any disruptive behaviour during a wet playtime or lunchtime. Visit jumble sales or charity shops to build a store of simple games and toys that the children can use during the wet break. Board games for pairs of children provide an excellent opportunity to keep the children busy whilst still developing numeracy, literacy and reasoning skills.
Allow some children to access construction kits that are used for teaching in other subjects. Encourage the class to make models of objects related to the classroom topic. Some children can be allowed to use the class computer or tablets during a wet playtime or lunchtime to access educational games online that can support their learning. You can use a tick list to make sure that each child gets an opportunity to use the equipment across the school year.
Get the class to design and make some of their own board games that can be played during a wet playtime. This can either be based on a similar game such as chess or they can design their own games to match the current classroom topic. Provide the children with some pictures related to the classroom topic to colour. You can also get some of the class to design their own colouring pictures to share with their classmates.