Extend Recess and Take Me Outside!

Earth Day Canada’s OPAL program (Outdoor Play and Learning) repositions play in schools as a child’s right, not a privilege. Play enriches children’s experiences including their learning.

We want kids to be part of the process! As addressed in our Save for PLAY Take Action, recycling old and used items for play is a good sustainable practice and increases options for play in many ways.

Extend Recess and Take Me Outside will enhance play by having kids choose their own loose parts. The extended recess requires a ticket in. What is your ticket? A loose part! With the extended recess the child can take more time to discover the possibilities of his or her chosen item.

This can also be done at home if you arrange a play day with friends and neighbours. You can all meet at the park for your assigned play day, with each child bringing their selected loose part.

  1. Assign a day for extended recess (60 minutes or more). You can do this with your class or invite other classes to join you.
  2. Talk to your kids about the play day and ask them to start thinking about what item they may want to bring in. Every kid is required to bring an item, it is their ticket in to play.
  3. Here are some items your child could bring in:
    • Large cardboard boxes
    • Old car or bike tires (washed)
    • Large empty spools (used for wire, chain, rope, etc.)
    • Large buckets and containers
    • Wood scraps
    • Thick rope
    • Plastic pipes, tubes or hoses
    • Old kitchen utensils, baskets, pots and pans
    • Tarps
    • Fabric scraps (the bigger the better!)
    • Milk crates
    • Crutches
    • Nets
    • Old wagons and strollers
  4. During the extended recess play day, observe the many different items the kids bring in. Watch how the items complement each other during play, how they promote engagement, cooperation and exploration to make new child-led creations.
  5. We recommend that the kids bring their item in and then take it home at the end of the day so the school is not overwhelmed with storage and upkeep.

An extended recess play day will give you an idea of what loose parts play could look like at your school.