Professional Practice

How to Craft the Perfect Recess Survival Kit

If you live in a cooler climate, you may already notice the temps dipping. If you are like many art teachers, you probably also have recess duty. I was lucky. I not only had recess duty but also bus duty, which meant that I really had to be prepared.

Here is my master list of survival items to make outside duties more pleasant and stress-free.

Survival kit

1. Invest in the correct gear and leave it at school.

Investing in high-quality gear will help you stay comfortable. Plus, it will last for years. Leave what you can at school each night to avoid hauling and forgetting items each day.

2. Organize your items by the door.

No one likes to scramble to get outside. Save time by hanging non-damaging 3M hooks to create your own outdoor station. Include all the supplies plus a checklist so you don’t forget anything. (See number 3!) You may even want to purchase a boot tray to keep the slushy mess contained.

3. Make a checklist of items you’ll need and keep it by the door.

Mine included a walkie-talkie, a fanny pack with first aid supplies, a whistle, a yellow recess vest, sunglasses, my cell phone, and anything I needed to dress for the weather. It was like going into battle! Back at my desk, I always kept lotion to combat the windburn from the recess field!

4. Keep emergency numbers in multiple places.

Keep one copy of emergency numbers posted by your supply checklist and another copy in your pocket or fanny pack. The worst feeling is NOT knowing the office number when you need to call because of an outdoor issue or injury.

5. Enjoy the fresh air!

It can often be a burden to have extra duties, but try to enjoy the Vitamin D and fresh air a change of scenery can bring. Use this as a time to connect with students and build relationships.

6. Wear a watch.

We often rely on cell phones, but wearing a watch has saved me on many occasions. If you are even a minute late on the playground or out to the busses, it’s a major safety concern for the students. Although it seems petty, it really IS an important job!

I can’t guarantee you won’t feel frazzled or that your hair will look top notch after wearing your winter hat. However, if you stay organized and create a few systems for these parts of your day, duties won’t seem all that bad.

What outdoor duties are you assigned to at your school? 

How do you prepare for them?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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