• Heather

How To Teach: Recreation Leisure Skills

Importance of Recreation Leisure skills

Humans engage in recreation leisure activities because it makes them feel happy, it reduces stress, and it provides a mental break from other thoughts or tasks. Since these are all good things, we must support our students in being able to find the recreation and leisure activities that give them those same feelings.


Focus Skills

-What is recreation leisure

-Finding preferred activities to engage in in different settings

-Knowing when to engage in leisure

-Taking the steps to pick an activity, set it up, engage for a period of time, and then clean up

-Practicing engaging in recreation leisure activities



Why Focus On These Skills

No matter the age and ability level of your student, learning how to enjoy recreation leisure activities is an ABSOLUTE MUST! If an individual can independently occupy a period of time on their own then primary caregivers will have an opportunity to take care of something while knowing their student is safe and happy. Adult day programs may have an expectation for participants to occupy themselves throughout the day. And, students who attend college class, use public transportation, or get to enjoy a small break during their work day will have bits of time throughout the day that they need to fill with a self-directed activity.



When To Teach

While I view this as a ‘top priority’ skill for my students, it is a concept that can be taught at any point throughout the school year. However, consider adding this concept to your ESY schedule or when you are getting to know students at the start of the school year. Your students might see it less as a formal ‘lesson’ and more as a ‘fun game day.’ Accidental learning, how wonderful!



I’ve created a complete lesson unit of materials for teaching this topic. The materials are comprehensive (5 full lessons) and most appropriate for life skill lessons at the middle school, high school and transition level students. Below are some lesson unit highlights!


Lesson Objective

Students will identify their preferred recreation leisure activities so they can Pick an activity

during free time.

Students will Enjoy a recreation leisure activity of their choice.

Students will Pick up the recreation leisure activity when the free time has ended and resume

their schedule.



Lesson Vocabulary

Activity, enjoy, free time, game, leisure, pick, put away, recreation, start, stop




Resource Perks

  • Pre and Post assessment

  • 1 page narrative explaining the skill with and without visual text supports (to incorporate functional reading)

  • 5 skill practice activities to learn and/or reinforce the focus skills

  • Game for students to practice their skills (because learning is fun)

  • Boom Cards for practice or assessment

  • Student learning reflection worksheet (thumbs up or down)

  • Encouraging on-topic quotes (use as a classroom poster or starter for each class period)

  • 5 strategies for success (tips for being successful with the focus skills)

  • Coloring page with on-topic graphics

  • Skill mastery certificate for positive recognition and reinforcement

  • Data collection sheet on specific focus skills

  • Homework sheet to encourage students to practice the skill outside of the school setting

  • Word search of key vocabulary terms

  • Visuals for focus skills with age appropriate colors and graphics



Ultimate Goal

It isn’t just playing a game, making a craft, or shooting some hoops, it’s a thoughtful use of time that the student has control over, that brings them a sense of calm, that brings them joy, and that gives them a sense of accomplishment. If a student can independently engage in recreation leisure, then they possess one of the most meaningful life skills.




Link to Curriculum


Recreation Leisure Lesson Unit


Life Skills Curriculum Bundle





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