Classrooms are busy places, that’s for sure. There’s so much to accomplish in such a short amount of time. That’s why it’s important to purposefully build time into your schedule for breaks … in particular, focused brain breaks for kids that help give you some control over the energy level and mood in the classroom.
Research shows that giving kids frequent brain breaks to reset their energy level improves their ability to focus, retain more of the concepts you are teaching, and stay on task.
Here are 50 of our favorite brain breaks for kids that will increase productivity in your classroom.
1. Take just 3 minutes.
Check out this 3 minute video from Sanford fit that shows brain breaks for kids in action. You’ll be inspired by the wiggles and giggles of the students as they crank up the energy and get ready to tackle the next challenge.
2. Practice “focus ball” breathing.
Walk your students through the following exercise: Stand or sit with legs and feet together. Bring your palms together in front of your chest. Keep your fingertips together as you pull your palms apart, forming a ball with your fingers. Press your fingertips together until you feel the muscles in your hands and arms activating. See if you feel your core tighten too. Now close your eyes and as you breathe in, inflate your ball and as you breathe out, flatten the ball by pushing your palms together. (Then repeat these instructions for 60 seconds).
3. Try the old Ear-Nose Switcheroo.
This is a quick and easy challenge to reset the brain. Instruct students to touch their left ear with their right hand and at the same time touch their nose with their left hand. Then have them switch their hands and touch their right ear with their left hand and their nose with their right hand. Switch back and forth a few times. Then have them close their eyes, take a deep breath, and blow it all out.
4. Stretch it out.
It’s never a good idea to spend too much time sitting in one position. Allow students to take a break and bring some flexibility back into their spines. Have them stand with their feet shoulder-distance apart. Put their left hand on their hip and raise their right hand overhead. Lean to the left and stretch their arm as far as they can to the left. Repeat on the right side. Then stand tall and slowly roll down one vertebrae at a time until their hands reach the floor (or at least their shins). Have them take a deep breath then slowly roll back up. Repeat as necessary.
5. Take a cue from the stadium.
Recharge the energy in your classroom with a class wave. Starting at one end of the room, students stand up and throw their arms overhead, bringing them back down as they return to their seat. Each row follows until you reach the other end of the room. Amp it up by encouraging your students to tap their feet or tap their hands on their legs so that they are in constant motion!
6. Just jump!
Sometimes kids just need to bounce their energy out. Have students pretend they are bouncing on a mini-trampoline (this will keep their movement on a vertical plane instead of all over the room) and give them a couple of minutes to let loose!
7. Have an arsenal of activities at the ready.
There are so many great brain breaks for kids out there. Which is why we love this amazing free resource from Sanford fit that has easy-to-print cards with dozens of action-packed brain breaks designed to get your students warmed up, moving, and cooled down.
8. Stir the pot.
Have students visualize they are standing in front of an enormous cauldron. Inside the cauldron is an ooey-gooey pot of caramel. Take hold of a large stirrer and plunge it to the bottom of the pot. Slowly begin to stir in a clockwise direction. Have them use their whole body to help get a full range of motion in their wrists and shoulders. Instruct them to throw their hips into the action. After a minute or two, reverse the direction.
9. Make it rain.
Conjure up a rainstorm in the classroom. Sitting or standing at their desks, have students tap 1 finger on their desk, then 2, then 3, then 4, then their whole hand until you all feel like you’re in the middle of a deluge. Work your way backward from 5 down to 1 as the storm ebbs away.
10. Enjoy a golden moment.
Have students sit quietly with their eyes closed. Ring a chime or gong. Instruct students to listen carefully to the chime, feeling the vibration in their body as the sound reverberates and then slowly fades. Tell them to breathe slowly and deeply as they focus on the sound.
11. Chill out with this cross-body exercise.
Have students stand tall and cross one leg in front of the other while pressing the outsides of their feet together. Now have them cross their arms over one another at the wrists. Clasp their hands and curl their arms into their chest. Take a few breaths, uncross and cross the opposite way for a few more breaths.
12. Or energize with these.
First, instruct students to touch their left elbow to their right knee, then touch their right elbow to their left knee. Switch back and forth going slowly at first, building speed until they are going at a vigorous pace. Next, do some windmills by standing tall with their feet shoulder-width apart and their arms stretched out. Bend at the waist and touch their right hand to their left toes, then their left hand to their right toes. Switch back and forth.
13. Change up your lesson plans.
Incorporate movement into classroom activities to keep the learning fresh.
14. Make Xs and Os.
Walk students through the following exercise: Sitting in a chair with your feet on the ground and legs together, curl your body into your lap, folding yourself into a tiny O shape. Next, open your arms and legs wide, forming an X shape with your body. Pull back into an O shape, then back out to an X shape. Repeat three times.
15. Energize in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Get the class’s hearts pumping with a quick sequence of exercises. Call out 5 actions for your students to do as quickly as they can. For instance, 5 jumping jacks, 4 pushups, 3 situps, 2 squat jumps, and 1 tree pose.