We could all use a brain break now and then, and kids are no different! The good news: Gone are the days of making your students sit still for hours at a time. We now know, thanks to extensive research, that kids need to move and take brain breaks throughout the school day to improve their concentration and brain activity.
What Are Brain Breaks?
In short, brain breaks are short periods of time we take off from a task, essentially changing up kids’ routines to give their brains a much-needed rest so they can bounce back better than ever to tackle another academic task. The image below shows two brain scans. The first is of a student who has been sitting quietly doing a test, the other is that of a student who has just been for a 20-minute walk. The brain is much more active after some form of a brain break.
This blog will outline some quick and easy ways to get your students to take a brain break to give their brains that rest and help make them more engaged and successful learners. Even if it is for 10 minutes, it is sure to limit distractions and improve attention. Make it part of your classroom routine …
Brain Breaks for Kids
As teachers, we know all about the learning research, and we know that brain breaks are an essential part of the classroom routine. However, knowing is just half of the battle. Sometimes it gets hard coming up with fun ways to incorporate brain breaks into the classroom. Here are some fun and easy resources that are the perfect solution to this problem!
Use our brain breaks activity cards and signs to create a ‘Brain Break Board’ for your classroom.
Included in this resource are colored circles that can be stuck on the end of craft sticks. Use these signs to indicate to your students what activity they will be doing. I used our Letter, Number, and Punctuation set – Cartoon Green for the heading.
Examples of Brain Break Activities
This is a bit like musical chairs, but your kids get to stay by their own seats. Choose an age appropriate song for your class. Play the music, and have the students dance. When the music stops, students have to freeze. Whoever moves is out. Keep playing until there is one person left. Those students who are out, help spot students who move when the music is off.
This may be an old classic, but there’s a reason for that! In this brain break activity, classmates gather in a circle and toss a beanbag or soft ball to each other while music plays. The player who is holding the ‘hot potato’ when the music stops is out.
The winner is announced when one player is left.
Rock Paper Scissors
This is a 2-player game, but the whole class can play in a knock-out round tournament. On the count of three, players pick their position:
- rock – hand in a fist
- paper – hand flat, palm down
- scissors – extending the first two fingers and holding them apart.
The winner of that round depends on the items formed. If the same item is formed, it’s a tie.
- rock crushes scissors
- scissors cuts paper
- paper covers rock
Find an area where you can safely toss a ball around. No one can talk or make a sound – being silent is the aim of the game.
The ball is tossed between classmates. Students cannot throw the ball back to the person who threw it to them. If a player misses the ball, talks, or makes a bad pass, that student is out. The last two players are the champions. (Check out additional indoor ball games for more ideas to use the ball in the classroom!)
Heads and Tails
Students stand in a group or at their desks. The teacher calls out true or false statements.
- True – Hands on your head. If a student thinks the statement is true, then they put their hands on their heads.
- False – Hands on your bottom. If a student thinks the statement is false, then they put their hands on their bottoms.
If your guess is incorrect, you must sit down. The last person standing wins.
Other Brain Break Ideas
Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades
Using each of the suits in the deck of cards, place one in each corner of the classroom. From the remaining deck of cards, remove the aces and then shuffle, pull out a card and show it to the students, they must yell out ‘hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades’ and run to the correct corner. Students who go to to the incorrect corner or the last few students to the correct corner are out.
Shuffle, Shuffle, Group!
In this game, students shuffle around the classroom until the teacher says, Groups of 5, at which point the students must quickly group themselves into groups with the correct number of people. Students who are left over must do three jumping jacks before the next round starts. The teacher can call out any number for the group size.
Use our different fitness bingo cards. Kids love playing BINGO so why not incorporate a little bit of a brain break with some fitness bingo!
The Bean Game
This is a favorite with teachers here at the Teach Starter office: The Bean Game.
This active game encourages the development of listening skills, cognitive processing skills, physical activity, and social skills. Students move carefully and silently around a safe, open space. As soon as they hear the ‘bean call’ ask the students to make the shape or movement of the corresponding bean as quickly as they can. This will become a class favorite.
Allow the students to do what they are desperate to do. TALK! Set a 3-minute timer and allow the students to get up and talk to their friends.
Fitness Lucky Dip
Place our 24 fitness exercise cards in a bucket and have students randomly select an activity to perform.