A Big Bunch of Brain Breaks - Brain Break Ideas for Every Scenario
Fun Ways to Refresh Your Student’s Brain
By Kelsey Gilbert, on July 16, 2017 - Teaching
If your child has “the wiggles” and can’t focus on schoolwork, give them a “brain break!” Science has proven that taking short movement breaks every 25-30 minutes makes students more efficient, helping regain focus and alertness. For more information see the importance of brain breaks. Need a quick list of brain break ideas to get started? Try these!
Two-Person Brain Breaks
- Stand face to face, one leg back. Grip hands as though arm wrestling. Without touching anything else, try to knock the other person off balance.
- Rock Paper Scissors (try a “whole body” version: curl up for rock, jumping jack for scissors, lie down for paper).
- Thumb war (stand up!) or arm wrestling.
- Races: One foot. Crawling. Frog-hopping. Backwards.
Group Brain Breaks
- Play Simon Says. Anyone who is “out” continues to repeat a motion (jumping, patting head).
- Keep one or more beach balls or balloons in the air.
- Turn on some music and dance! Variation: Have everyone freeze whenever you pause the music.
- Do whole-body movement songs, like Hokey Pokey, Head and Shoulders, or the Macarena. Find dance videos online and follow along.
- Name a color, shape, etc., in the room, and race to touch it (Something glass! Something orange! Something triangular!)
- Stand up and touch the ground, knees straight if possible. Inch your hands forward as far as possible, then walk your feet forward. Repeat. Try an “inchworm race.”
- Read an alliterative phrase (“The Big Bad Bear went Bowling, then Bought a Bunch of Balloons”). Every time you hear that letter (“B”), stand up! Next “B,” sit back down!
Individual Brain Breaks
- Act out animals—ones that jump, fly, etc. for maximum movement.
- Jumping jacks
- Jump with an invisible jump rope
- Do simple exercises, like push-ups, yoga poses, or stretches.
- Pat your head and rub your tummy.
- Move one hand up and down, while moving the other right to left.
- Write the alphabet (ABC) with your toe, while writing it in reverse (ZYX) with your finger.
- Hold out your hand, spin your wrist clockwise, and your index finger counterclockwise.
Sitting-Still Brain Breaks
While less motion is also less effective, knowing these tricks can be useful—for example, while studying in the car, in public, or at a community college class.
- Play with a fidget toy (make your own toy by filling a balloon with flour).
- Put a hard candy in your mouth.
- Play with a rubber band.
- Contract, then relax all your muscles.
- Rub your palms on your thighs.
- Hug yourself hard.
- Silently blow all the air from your lungs. Hold. Let the next breath rush in.
- For more movement, get up for a drink, or take a short walk.
Where Can I Find More Brain Breaks Ideas?
The internet is cram-packed with brain breaks in a variety of formats:
- Online videos of brain breaks, songs, and dance choreography
- Lists of ideas on forums, blogs, and websites (print a list of your favorites!)
- Flashcard collections
Sources for some of these ideas (thank you!):
- Teach Forever
- Minds in Bloom blog posts 1 and 2
- Brain Breaks Blog
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