We investigated physical activity and encouragement for activity in a bi-ethnic cohort during recess. Activity and associated interactions of 287 children were recorded at preschool and again 2.2 years later. Children expended nearly twice as much energy at preschool recess than at elementary recess. Activity levels declined as recess time elapsed. At preschool, European-American children engaged in more moderate to vigorous activity than Mexican-Americans. As participants moved to elementary school, teachers' prompts to be active decreased and prompts from peers increased. Boys and girls received similar amounts of activity prompts at preschool, but prompts to boys increased over time. The findings suggest that school environments could be altered to promote healthful physical activity among young children.