Playground Duty – Adding to a Positive Environment in your School


Playground duty is generally not a favourite part of a teachers day. Having done more hours than I could possibly calculate I understand being on duty can sometimes be a trying time – weather, student’s problems, being tired, having other things to organise,  haven’t had time to eat your lunch and just not feeling like going out.

Try these ideas to add a positive mood to the playground environment and give yourself a boost.


1. As you roam around the playground smile and say hello to individuals and groups.  ‘Hi everyone, how’s it going?’ No need to stay for a long chat. It’s a passing hello to show you are out there, noticing everyone and being friendly. Makes everyone feel happy and relaxed including you.

2. Take a small ball out with you and throw it to different students as you wander about.  Say, ‘Think quick’ before you throw it to give the student the heads up that it is coming. You may turn into a pied piper as students vie for a catch. Tuck the ball away for a few minutes until students disperse then start up again or just continue on. 

3. Grab a few skipping ropes and invite a group of students to start with some skipping games. More students will come over to join in.

4. Take out a ‘Knock Knock’ joke book and select individuals or groups to engage in a joke as you roam around the playground.  Say thank you after the joke is completed and move on. 

5. Take out a tub or large bucket containing a mix of resources to hand out to students who may be sitting alone or are having difficulty making friends. Let them select or hand them an item to play with. 

 Resources could include juggling balls, a selection of books, one long and a few short skipping ropes, tennis balls, old matchbox cars (Plenty of cheap ones available at the op shops), elastics, plastic cricket bat and ball,  playing cards, even a bag of marbles complete with instructions. 

  • Other students join in when they see what you are doing.
  • Students focus on having something to do rather than feeling left out or alone.
  • Generates feelings of well-being.

6. If students approach you with a problem I recommend using the Walk and Talk strategy.


Enlist students to assist you when handing out the ‘goodies’.  Remind the students that they must return the items to you at the end of playtime. Nominate a place you will be waiting.

Students respond positively to kindness and caring as you contribute to the atmosphere of respect, friendliness and enjoyment in the playground environment. 


 Yes, it takes effort and time but …

  • You will feel in a more buoyant mood as you roam around interacting with others.
  • Students will enjoy the interaction with you.
  • You generate a positive atmosphere in the playground.

So take a little time to organise the resources and next time you are on duty generate some positive vibes in your school playground! It’s amazing the difference one person can make.


Share the ideas with your teaching team. Put together a ‘goodies’ container you can all borrow at duty time.