The Best Brain Breaks to Give Your Students a Break

You’ve been teaching all day and your class has been working all day.  Then you notice it, restless kids.  Slouching kids.  Non-responsive kids.  Teaching and learning grinds to a halt.  What’s going on?  Aha, your students need a brain break!

You can probably relate.  Your mind grows numb and your feet get antsy after working for a long time.  Give everyone a break throughout the day to keep things flowing.  When kids, and yourself get a little breather productivity stays intact.

It doesn’t take much to give the mind and body a rest either.  These are the best brain breaks for kids!  Give one a try. Pick and choose your time to fit your schedule…5, 10, 15 minutes….it’s up to you!  Try out one of these brain break activities to keep teaching and learning going.


For when your class needs a quick refresher….


After doing a lot of thinking or focusing students need to unwind their mind.  This quick brain break activity clears their mind:

Draw to The Rhythm:

* Select an instrumental piece of music, like classical music to play for the class.
* Instruct students to take out paper and pencil.
* Tell them that you will play a song and direct them to freely move their pencil around the paper to the rhythm of the music.
* Drawings can be freeform if they want, it doesn’t have to be a regular picture.
* Provide examples like for fast rhythm draw quick short lines and for slower tempo draw long loops or swirls.


Students need to get up and move from time to time.  After a long period of sitting try out this movement brain break for kids to work off the energy:


* Come up with 5 simple exercises that can be done in one spot (jumping jacks, marching, hopping on 1 foot, push-up, spinning around.)
* Instruct class that you will call out an exercise with a number for them to complete in their spot.  They need to do the exercise the number of times you say.
* Start at number 5 and count down to 1. “Do 5 jumping jacks…Now 4 marches…”
* Tell everyone to sit back down after they get to 1


Focused breathing is a great way to calm down, unwind and relax.  Help kids release the tension with this quick mindfulness activity:

Blow The Dandelion Puffs

* Either standing or seated have students hold up their hand in front of their face with all 5 fingers spread apart.
* Instruct the class to imagine their fingers are dandelions with puffs on top.
* Direct the class to take a deep inhale and on the exhale blow away the puffs on one of their fingers.
* When they are done with their exhale instruct students to lower the finger down so only 4 fingers are up.
* Repeat the exercise for all 5 fingers.


For when your class needs a little bit more downtime or when you have a longer transition time....


If your class is looking tired and needs to perk-up give this brain break activity a try:

Read Aloud and Draw

* Select a class favorite book that is simple to listen to.
* Ask students to take out a sheet of paper and draw a scene from the book as you read.
* At the end of the story allow 1-2 more minutes to complete the illustration. 
* Instruct the class to hold up pictures for all to see.


When your students get restless and need to get the wiggles out here is a movement break for kids:

Color Run

* Hang-up 5-6 different sheets of colored paper around the room.
* Direct the class to get up and stretch.
* Then say “When I call out a color, if you’re wearing that color safely run to the color spot in the room and run in place 10 times when you get there.”
* Repeat calling out colors until class gets their wiggles out.
* You can change things up to by having students do things like march, tip-toe, hop, or lunge walk to the colors.


This soothing mindfulness activity helps kids get grounded and in the moment with their senses and surroundings:

5-Senses Guided Meditation

* Instruct students to get comfortable in their seats.
* Tell them to take some deep breaths and clear their minds. Allow them to take 3-4 breaths.
* Instruct class to continue to breath as they focus their attention on their 5 senses one at a time.
* Explain you will tell them to focus on something they can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste in the room as they sit comfortably and take relaxing breaths.
* Example of what to say, “As you breathe focus your attention on something you see in this room. What is it?…What do you see?…What details do you notice?…Now focus your thoughts on something you hear… What can you hear?… What sound does it make?”
* Talk slowly and calmly. Pause for 3-4 breaths between senses.
* If taste is tricky, have students recall a taste they had earlier or think about a taste they like.

15 Minute Brain Breaks:

These brain breaks are perfect to do before or after longer periods of sitting like taking a test, or when stuck indoors for recess...


Let your students pause their thoughts and get silly with this random idea brain break activity:


* Gather up a few random objects like a crayons, stapler, eraser, notebook or cup
* Instruct class to sit in a circle.
* Explain to the class that you will pick an object and the class has to come-up with a story about the object. The twist is that the object cannot be used for its regular purpose.  Like the story has to be about crayons, but they are not used for coloring, they do something different.
* Explain to the class that to tell the story each person will hold the object, say a few words and then pass the object on to the next person who will add new details. Everyone will get a chance to add to the story as the object gets passed around the circle.
* Any ideas will work. The idea is to be creative and goofy.


Burn off energy with this fun movement break for kids:

Popping Popcorn

* Gather up a few beach balls or balloons
* Instruct class to see how long they can keep the ball from touching the ground by either tapping, tossing or catching the ball between classmates.
* Start with one ball and slowly add more one at a time.
* See how easy or difficult it is to keep the ball off the ground as balls are added or taken away.
* Make it more challenging by telling students to either only use left or right hands, balance or hop on one foot, crab walk etc.


If your students have pent up energy or need a longer moment of calm try out this idea that teaches mindfulness for children:

Simon Says Animal Yoga:

* Just like Simon Says except to call out animals for poses and motions.
* Instruct class to stand up.  When you say, “Simon Says…” students do the pose.
* You can demonstrate or let students come up with their own animal motion.
* Ideas for animals include downward dog, cobra, cat, cow, monkey, snake, bird, giraffe, sloth, horse.
* Allow students to take turns leading activities if you wish.
* To wrap up the game, instruct students to pick their favorite animal pose one at a time and hold pose for 5 breaths, then pick another animal post for 5 breaths and so on.

We all need breaks right? Making brain breaks a regular part of the routine will boost things like alertness, energy and focus.  It will also add calm and refreshment too. With these brain breaks for kids you will find your students maintain better self-regulation as they learn too.

So what does your class need? Pick any of these brain break ideas to get kids moving or calmed down.

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