The last four school days have been cold ones at Lincoln Elementary School in Beatrice.
When the mercury dips into the negatives, students can’t play outside, so the teachers have to find a way to help them burn off their extra energy.
The playground to the south of the school building was covered in a blanket of white, powdery snow, untouched by exuberant students at recess. One solitary set of footprints was the only thing marring the otherwise pristine snow.
On Wednesday morning, the temperature hovered just above zero, with the windchill pushing it down to about five below. That meant yet another day of indoor recess at Lincoln Elementary.
After nearly a week of indoor recess, the teachers have found ways to keep their students busy and burning off the excess energy they’d regularly expend on the monkey bars.
Kaylee Korte, who teaches fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary, said the kids have plenty of things to do to keep them occupied when the weather outside is frightful.
“We just have an indoor recess,” Korte said. “They can play any game they want, board games, card games, iPads, coloring pages. They have some stories that they like and some just sit around and talk.”
The kids have been handling their time indoors pretty well, she said, and working on their "inside voices" this year has really helped keep the noise levels down, too.
On Wednesday, Korte’s students held their PE class in the school gymnasium instead of outside on the field behind the school, and PE teacher Travis Schuster helped them sweat out some of their cabin fever.
The kids took turns shooting hoops, practicing dribbling, jumping rope and doing sit-ups in groups of four.
Right next door to the multi-purpose room, music teacher Laura Bigley was leading a class as they practiced songs from “A Barnyard Moosical,” a musical written just for elementary school students.
The class sang their way through songs about pigs and chickens, they did some light dancing and ended with a bit of dabbing.
Pam McGhee’s second grade class shook off their wintertime woes with a little help from YouTube. Videos from “Just Dance”—an interactive dance game—got the kids up on their feet.
Kid-friendly versions of songs like “ABC” by the Jackson 5 and a song called “I am a Gummy Bear” had the kids dancing and singing along.
“Just Dance” videos are a more modern part of a repertoire McGhee uses to keep the kids occupied, but there are a few old favorites she’ll throw into the mix, like building with Lego bricks, playing board games as well as classic school games.
“We'll play a whole group game, like Heads Up, Seven Up,” she said. “It's still a favorite.”
In the kindergarten classroom, Shana Ensz led students as they quietly worked at their desks. Ensz has been able to keep the peace in the classroom with periodic breaks, using educational videos the kids can dance and sing along with, as well as letting them burn off some steam on a balance beam.
“We just call them 'brain breaks,'” Ensz said. “We try to keep our routine the same as much as we can, but then we just incorporate those movement breaks as much as we can.”
With Thursday predicted to be much warmer than the week before, students will likely have a chance to get back out on the playground.
Korte said she understands that being cooped up inside can be tough for younger kids, that’s why she likes to let them do things that make them happy.
“There's really no "no" for indoor recess,” she said. “Other than we don't use any of the balls.”