What Are Brain Breaks?
Brain breaks for kids are a way to take a mental break from what students are doing. They are a body break or a time to get moving with a little physical activity after periods of sitting. These movement breaks can make a huge difference in energy level and focus.
Research has shown that physically active children academically outperform their inactive peers. That’s because physical activity increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. Different types of brain breaks are healthy for children and allow them to perform better academically and increase their attention span.
Benefits of Brain Breaks
Brain breaks are a great way to refocus attention and improve your mood. Give young students short breaks after 15 minutes of work time. Older kids can stretch it to 20-25 minutes.
It might seem like just one more thing to add to your plate, but taking frequent brain breaks are an easy way to increase productivity. Your students’ attention increases with activity breaks. If you use this simple technique, the quality of your student’s work will be higher.
Research shows that downtime is needed for every 45 minutes of mental activity. If you are using brain breaks with young kids, research suggests a brain break is needed at a time interval of twice their age. So, a brain break is needed every twelve minutes if your child is six.
25 Brain Break Activities For Any Age
If you are looking to add some fun brain breaks into your classroom or homeschool routine, these are some engaging ideas you could use that your students or children will absolutely love.
After a few rounds of the classic game of Simon Says, everyone will be ready to get back on track. Plus, Simon Says is one of those games that also helps kids learn, and students practice following directions and careful listening skills. Younger kids love this one.
Yoga is such a relaxing exercise and is the perfect brain break for kids, and it helps teach mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Yoga also helps improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
There are a ton of different yoga videos for kids out there. But teachers and homeschoolers love Cosmic Kid Yoga! They often tell stories or sing songs during the yoga sessions, making them totally engaging and interactive for kiddos.
Many studies have shown that meditation or deep breathing in the school setting improves school performance, attention, and behavior. It can even help students with ADHD, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and more. This is a good brain break if you don’t have much time.
Mediation can be as short as one minute or as long as 20. New Horizon Meditation and Sleep Stories make some of the best meditation videos. They are developed and created for kids!
If you have a beach or balloon, a quick game of Keepy Uppy may be just what your class or children need to get back on track and refocused. This is a fun game where kids try to keep the balloon or beach ball up in the air as long as possible.
You could add more balloons or beach balls to make it harder. Another good idea is to only use your right hand to hit the ball or only use your left hand.
Move Like An Animal
If you have little kiddos, this brain break is perfect! Have a kid act out various animals, whether a penguin, elephant, or gorilla. The other kids in the classroom or group try and guess what type of animal they are acting out.
If you want to get the whole class involved and you have a large space, put on some music and shout out different animals, and they have to act like that animal until you shout another one. This is a fun way to get moving during the school day.
Charades is a game for all ages. Having a bunch of charade cards available for a quick brain break in class is always great. Keep them simple, like brushing your teeth, riding the bus, and doing homework. You want kids to be able to guess quickly. This way, you can get as many students involved in acting out as possible!
Who’s Writing Back There
Have students partner up and tape a piece of paper to each other’s back. Have them decide who is going to write first and second. Whoever will write first stands behind the person and uses their index finger to write. Ss you say sentences they write the sentences on the piece of paper on their partner’s back. Then, they switch places.
Tongue twisters are a super quick and fun brain break. Look up a couple and teach your students different ones. Peter Piper and She Sells Seashells are some of the most popular ones! Have them practice and see who can say the tongue twister fastest. You could even have them try and write their own.
Coloring or doodling is always a favorite in the classroom. Give your kids or students a plain piece of paper or a coloring sheet, and let them just color. Add in some classical or relaxing music, and you won’t believe how calm your classroom or house will get! Thompson’s Teachings has some great doodling and coloring sheets available!
Put on some music and let your kiddos just dance! It will not only give their brains a little break but let them release some energy. It is an excellent activity if your kids have been stuck inside all day due to bad weather or cannot have outdoor recess! GoNoodle has some great guided dance videos!
Adding some simple exercises between learning is a great way to give kids a brain break. You don’t need them to run a mile or give them a 30-minute extra recess (although that would help too). Have the entire class practice balancing on one leg, run in place, or do some jumping jacks. Touch your right elbow to your right knee. Then, your left elbow to your left knee.
Kids love jokes. A fun and quick brain break is telling some jokes. If you have older students, task them with finding a joke a week and bringing it into the classroom to share. Create a joke fishbowl where all the jokes go. Then pull one out whenever your kids need a little break.
Give everyone a magic wand and let them write in the sky: shapes, names, spelling words, vocabulary, and silly sentences. Really anything goes when they are air writing! It gets their mind off of learning for a little and gives them a quick break they need.
Everyone played this game at every birthday party and it is a timeless classic. There are so many freeze dance videos available on YouTube you can easily pick the one best for your kids. With a couple of rounds of dancing around the classroom or living room, everyone will be ready to learn again!
Another game we all played as little kids at birthday parties, grab a couple of chairs and put them into a circle. Play some popular music and all of the fun your students will have with this simple game. When the music plays, they move in a circle. When it stops, they find a chair.
Be A Mime
A mime can sometimes be a little scary, but you and your students can try to become one, and there is a great YouTube channel called Punchomime. It is filled with funny mime videos and lessons on how to mime different things like bow and arrow and how to walk like a mime.
Do The Wave
It isn’t a sporting event without a section starting the wave and seeing how long it can travel around the stadium. Pretend you are at a football game, soccer game, or really any sporting event where the wave is present. See if your students can create a wave in your classroom.
This idea sounds a little weird, but give your students a chance to do nothing. Give them a little break between reading and math where they can sit with their head down, look up at the ceiling, or just stare off into space. It’s ok for their brains to take a break when they are not stimulated!
Write or Journal
Have some silly writing prompts printed and ready to go when your kids need a little break from learning or have a brain break journal where they can write about whatever they want. Writing is a stimulating activity and a great way to relax!
There are so many relaxation tools out there now. Your students could play with play dough, squeeze some stress balls, or play with fidgets.
Kids love to have something in their fingers and these relaxation tools are perfect! Some of these tools can even be used during lessons to keep those students who need movement even when learning. They are also usually quiet enough to not distract the rest of the kids!
Singing songs with your students when you all need a little break from learning is another great brain break strategy. You could sing some popular songs from Disney movies, learning songs or old nursery rhymes.
If you have younger students or kids in your household, you may want to put on a couple of finger puppet plays. Use your brain breaks to review different stories you may have read, like Little Red Riding Hood. They can be short and sweet, and tons of different finger puppet collections are available on Amazon.
Another timeless classic, we played this game for hours in the car. Now bring it into the classroom or homeschool and have your children looking for different objects throughout the room. You could make it subject-related, like “I spy something we use during math.” or “I spy an object we read.” You could also just play the average iSpy looking for objects of a specific color, shape, etc.
Work on spelling your name in sign language or different phrases that kids can use right away.
Sensory activities in the classroom are a great way for children to calm their heart rate. Think of anything with sand, water play, or even play dough.
Brain breaks help students refocus, relax, and become more attentive during lessons. They are short and a lot of fun!
Bringing break brains into your classroom does not take much effort or planning. There are a variety of ways you can do it. They can be a part of your daily routine and your students will thank you!