Have you ever experienced a lesson go terribly wrong? Picture this: You’re teaching a class of 28 third graders, and it’s raining outside. The principal is observing you, and 15 minutes in, you notice that your students are becoming restless, disengaged, and off-task! It’s now or never – you’ve got to get your students engaged again! What are you going to do?
I could tell you all of the details about that fateful day because it’s a true story! The important thing to share with you is that Brain Break Active Games turned it all around. It wasn’t part of my plan, and it did take 10 minutes, but it transformed my lesson and helped me earn some great compliments on my evaluation!
The Cognitive Benefits of Physical Activity in the Classroom
Research shows even short bursts of movement deliver significant benefits for brain health and academic performance, relative to sitting quietly, says Dr. Laura Chaddock-Heyman, a research scientist specializing in movement and the brain.
Without getting too technical, when we hear, see, touch, read, and process any new information, the brain sends signals from sensory receptors to the brain’s memory storage part. When these pathways are overloaded and stressed, this process stops happening efficiently. As a result, we become restless, fuzzy, irritable, unmotivated, and unfocused. Physical activity uses different parts of the brain, and so when we take a break and do some physical activity, we give the exhausted parts of our brain a chance to rest and recharge. Research has shown that providing regular opportunities for physical activity can ease the symptoms of ADHD, raise achievement standards, and improve cognitive development (the construction of thought processes, memory, problem-solving, and decision making). It doesn’t take research to show that active games and brain breaks increase the fun factor in the classroom!
So after presenting a compelling case for adding physical activity into your lesson plans, I offer our fun, energetic, tried, and tested Brain Break Active Game Resource Pack! This resource pack includes 15 active games, each with a slightly different focus. Each game aims to make your classroom buzz and improve your students’ cognition, mood, focus, and academic achievement. If you get involved in the game, you’ll notice the benefits too!
ZIP ZAP ZOOM!
Zip Zap Zoom! is a whole class game that encourages concentration, listening skills, and directional language knowledge. While sitting in a circle, students change the direction of ‘energy’ by saying ‘zip’ for a clockwise direction, ‘zap’ for a counterclockwise direction, or ‘zoom’ to send the energy across the circle. Increase the pace of the game for extra excitement!
Why not add a sweet (get it?) game of Fruit Salad as part of your lesson plan? The Fruit Salad Game is like musical chairs with a zesty twist. It can be played as a whole class or in large groups and is great for lower grades.
The Chicken Evolution Game is a fun, active game that can be used at the beginning of any lesson or partway through a task to avoid losing your students’ attention. This whole class game is suitable for upper grades and is sure to get a few giggles as students evolve from a chicken into a supreme being!
Shazzam! is a twist on the old favorite Rock, Paper, Scissors. In Shazzam!, the objects are replaced with the characters Wizard, Giant, and Knight. The game’s twist comes when teams have to agree on a single character! The first team to win ten rounds is the Shazzam! Champion!
One Word Story
I love One Word Story! You can use this fun and active game at the beginning of a reading lesson or at any time of the day when your class needs a brain break. Your students can let their creative imaginations go wild!! There’s a good chance that silly sentences will creep into their creative thinking, and there are sure to be classroom giggles. As a bonus, some of the creative thinking that your students use in this game might be transferable to their imaginative writing!
We have created 15 Brain Break Active Games for you to try out with your students. Don’t wait for one of your lessons to flop – make a plan to incorporate some physical activity into your class and see the benefits!