Posted on June 9th, 2015 by Seth Nickinson
“Brain Breaks” are a concept that has caught on in education. Brain breaks are simple ways to give kids’ minds a brief respite from the hyper-focused activity they are engaged in. They can last from 10 seconds to 10 minutes, and may involve getting up and moving or sitting at the desk and connecting with your body or someone next to you. The most effective brain breaks include a mental and a physical activity, encouraging various parts of the brain to fire together. Some basic categories:
A primer from the Pottsgrove (PA) School District explains:
Brain Breaks are a quick and effective way of changing or focusing the physical and mental state of the learners in your group. They are also a useful tool for students to use to help activate, energize and stimulate their brains. Research indicates that brain breaks also improve students’ concentration and relieve stress.
A few of The Happy Teacher’s ideas include:
The Pottsgrove (PA) school district offers a nice collection of “brain breaks” that require moving your body in small but complex ways that require attention. For example:
They also share a fun set of stimulating questions for the classic game “Would You Rather?” They suggest playing the game by designating a section of the room for each choice, and then having students move to that area (prepared to defend their choice)
You can have your crew do a scripted dance, or you can have a free-form dance party: just turn on the radio and let the students dance until the song ends.
At Project ACT, we have written before about Instant Recess, an amazing set of tools developed out of UCLA that basically combine dance and physical activity. They are designed to be <10 minutes and fun for all ages.
Here are some other popular (<5 minute) dances.
The Continental Drift – aka the Sid Shuffle (from Ice Age)
Upotown Funk (with Michelle Obama)
The Cha Cha Slide
GoNoodle is one of our favorite tools for teachers, offering a turnkey collection of brain breaks. It’s a whole service and the brain breaks are video-based. They offer a “plus” version with enough breaks for a whole year and curriculum integration.
Energizers are classroom-based physical activities that integrate physical activity with academic concepts. Less than 10 minutes, they were developed as part of the North Carolina State Board of Education’s Healthy Active Children Policy