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Recess Guardians. Taking Back the Playground. Meet the Team. Michael McDonald Bachelor of Kinesiology from U of S Recess Guardians Executive Director Certified Personal Trainer Exercise Expert. Why is Recess Important?. 23 ½ Hours Playworks . Problems with Recess. Bullying Gossiping

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Recess guardians

Recess Guardians

Taking Back the Playground

Meet the team
Meet the Team

Michael McDonald

  • Bachelor of Kinesiology from U of S

  • Recess Guardians Executive Director

  • Certified Personal Trainer

  • Exercise Expert

Why is recess important
Why is Recess Important?

  • 23 ½ Hours

  • Playworks

Problems with recess
Problems with Recess

  • Bullying

  • Gossiping

  • Physical Inactivity

  • Boredom- Unbusy hands can lead to bad situations

  • More harm done than good


  • Students grow up too quickly, forget how to play

  • Unfamiliar with games to play

  • No one will take responsibility for getting game started

The act of play
The Act of Play

  • Play is a lost art

  • Students grow up too quickly

  • Play is crucial in ones upbringing

  • Recess is a time for kids to be just that... Kids!

  • Prescription for Play


  • Bullying occurs once every 7 minutes on the playground

  • Obesity rates among children and youth aged 2 to 17 years are staggering

  • Childhood Obesity

  • Increasing amount of interactive, immobile games

Source: Stop a Bully,

Past programs
Past Programs

  • Canadian Intramural Recreation Association of Ontario (CIRA)

  • P.A.L.S. (Playground Activity Leaders in Schools)

  • PROPS (Peers Running Organized Play Stations)

  • Active Playgrounds

Source: The City of Hamilton Public Health Services

Our advantage
Our Advantage

  • Empowering students through peer leadership

  • On-the-ground interaction

  • Ownership and Accountability

A safe recess should
A Safe Recess Should:

  • Promote FUN and participation

  • Increase physical activity levels

  • Teach movement and dexterity skills

  • Promote creativity and problem solving

  • Reduce bullying

  • Promote fair play

  • Teach cooperation and respect

  • Provide equal opportunity for all


Recess Guardians’ mission is to motivate children to bring positive attitudes to the playground, while teaching their peers how to play in an energetic, fun and constructive way.

What is recess guardians
What is Recess Guardians?

  • How to play

  • Leadership Skills

  • Empowerment

  • CTV Interview

Recess guardians musts
Recess Guardians Musts

  • A teacher who will take responsibility for the program

  • A way to get equipment out on the playground

  • School must show excitement behind it, reward the students for taking a leadership role

How it all began
How it All Began

  • Started September, 2008

  • Started as drop in program

  • In 11 Core Community Schools in Saskatoon

  • Kids participated, but turnout varied greatly

Year one analysis
Year One Analysis



Turnout was inconsistent

Sometimes wouldn’t play the games if they didn’t like them off the start

Inexperienced adult volunteers

  • Kids had fun

  • Learnt games to play in their own time

  • Received shirts

  • Has positive grown-up role models


  • Have a group of 8-16 students assigned to the program, grades 4-8

  • Decrease the amount of schools

  • Have the same coaches at each school

  • Students must participate or they won’t be welcome back

The rg model option 1
The RG Model: Option 1

  • 8-16 Children

  • Grades 4-8

  • Minimum of 12 sessions

  • 1 day a week, 1 hour after school

  • 1-2 Volunteers per school

Option 1
Option 1



Not giving every student a chance to participate

Inconsistent turnout, having to chase students after school

Other activities can get in the way

  • Get different students working together

  • Allowing only the students who want to attend, to attend

  • Extra physical activity during the day

The rg model option 2
The RG Model: Option 2

  • One entire class during Phys. Ed. Time

  • Grades 4, 5, or 6

  • 6 to 12 sessions

  • 1 day a week

  • Either volunteer(s) or teacher

Option 2
Option 2



Disruption from children who don’t want to play the games

Not having physical activity after school, cuts down on time they are active

  • Everyone has a chance to succeed and participate

  • Teacher is there to see how it is run

  • Consistent attendance

The rg model option 3
The RG Model: Option 3

  • One entire class during Phys. Ed. Time

  • Grades 4, 5, or 6

  • 6 to 8 sessions

  • 3 to 4 days a week for 2 consecutive weeks

  • Either volunteer(s) or teacher

Option 3
Option 3



Students who don’t want to play may distract others

  • Everyone has a chance to participate

  • Sessions are close together so they can remember the games better

  • Teacher is present


  • Volunteer or teacher?

  • In a volunteer you want someone:

    • Reliable

    • Energetic

    • Positive

    • Likes to play


  • Decide on a group of 10-12 games

  • Should require very little or no equipment

  • Easy to organize

  • Popular

Games cont d
Games cont’d.

  • Teach most of the games in the first 3 to 4 sessions

  • Have the students replay the games after that, but always add in a new game for each session

  • Get a student to explain the rules to the other students, allows them to lead their peers

  • For last session or two, bring care partners in for the class to teach them

Teacher s role
Teacher’s Role


  • Organize students on the playground

  • Get the students participating in the learning sessions

Teacher s role cont d
Teacher’s Role cont’d.

  • Different organizational ideas:

    • Assign 2 groups of students (3 in each group) to organize games at recess.

    • Have them come up with one game idea, and to run it for a specific recess.

    • Change up groups for each recess.

Teacher s role cont d1
Teacher’s Role cont’d.

  • More ideas:

    • Have two students bring out equipment at recess and allow others to play with it.

    • Have them work one on one, or in a group with younger children and teach them to throw/catch.

    • Run indoor recesses with the games they were taught.

Physical literacy push
Physical Literacy Push

  • Sport Manitoba’s “Games with a purpose”

  • Teach the students these skills

  • Have them work with younger students on the playground with these skills

  • Students love teaching younger students

Physical literacy
Physical Literacy

  • Have the students set up circuits in the gym for the students to do for indoor recess

  • Students love to be EMPOWERED

  • Obstacle courses and relays work great for this type of program

Thank you
Thank You!

Michael McDonaldmike@recessguardians.com306-280-7244