6 Ways to Wake up your Class with Brain Breaks

I’m a big fan of brain breaks! Recent studies over the years support how incorporating short breaks to get children up and moving assists with better learning. This is what we call a brain break in the world of teaching, and I know, as a teacher I need them just as much as the kids do.

Edutopia has put together a great article which you can read here, which shares scientific evidence on how brain breaks help reduce stress, increase productivity and boost brain function. You may be wondering for ways on how you can implement brain breaks in your classroom?

Today I want to share 6 different ways I like to boost students learning with brain breaks:

Go Noodle

My go-to for a quick and fun brain break is using the website GoNoodle. This has been a game-changer in my classroom and you can sign up for free with access to so many videos. Of course, the paid membership is even better, but my class is very content with the free version.

I love how we can complete mindful videos during anxious/stressful times in the day by practising our breathing techniques or doing some yoga to build self-confidence. Alternatively, we can let off some steam with the high energy workout videos or dance routines. I highly recommend trying it with your class.

Head Outside

This type of break is simple and easy! The five minutes spent outside will do wonders for your students. Make sure you tell the students why they’re going outside. I usually say, ‘Just like our arms and legs need to stretch and move, so do our brains! We’re going outside for a short break to wake our brains up to help us be better learners.’

Sometimes I get the class to complete an obstacle course through the playground, complete some quick relays or simply run to and from a landmark.

Get up off the mat

Teachers are great talkers, but it’s easy to run over during explicit teaching sessions. To give students an opportunity to move I often add a quick intermission. This could be asking students to touch 5 objects in the room and say an adjective to describe it. There are so many alternatives, find 5 acute angles, touch 4 things with the /g/ phoneme, touch 6 orange objects, ask 6 people their favourite sport (you can adapt this for any age group).

To help build my classroom community when transitioning between lessons I’ll ask students to find 5 classmates and give them a compliment. The class enjoy this task and are often keen to share a compliment or two they were given. Other things I do to get the class up and moving is to ask students to high five everyone in the class or give 10 people a hip tap.

Focus break

There are times in the day, often after recess or lunch when students can come in frazzled. I may use this time for students to drop everything and read, or read them the class chapter book. Story online is another free website where actors read their favourite stories.

Teacher tip: Try reading a novel of your own while your class are reading. It is a wonderful way to set an example of reading for joy (plus you will get 5 minutes downtime too!)

Pair up, 1 2 3

Ask students to break up into pairs. They stand facing each other. When the teacher says 1, students open their right palm up. On 2 the students place their left index finger into the middle of their partner’s right palm. On 3 the student has to try and pull their index finger away but catch their partners finger with their right hand. Guaranteed to get the kids laughing and asking for another go. I like to play rounds of 3 or 5.

In and Out Game

Students make a line. I found going outside and using a natural line on the pavement or court makes this game easier. If you call ‘in’ the kids jump forwards, ‘out’ they jump back. If you say ‘in’ and then ‘in’ again the student need to stay in the same spot. As the students get more familiar with the game you can increase the speed. Students who get the instruction incorrect or are too slow are knocked out. One round can last up to a minute or two depending on how quickly you expect students to move. I like the students who are out to help with judging.

Those are just a few ways I like to use brain breaks in my classroom. If you have a popular brain break you regularly use in your classroom share it with us in the comments below.

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