Brain Break Activities For Kids
Posted by Erica Jabali
One thing is for sure, distance learning and online school requirements have thrown those screen-time recommendations right out the window.
While some kids thrive in this digital landscape, others find the long hours of staring at a screen difficult and exhausting. For younger students especially, sitting for such long periods of time can start to negatively affect their mental and physical health. For older kids, the increase in independent homework and lack of social interaction can lead to serious burnout and frustration.
So, what can we do to help boost their movement, increase engagement and retention and encourage creativity? The answer is surprisingly simple: brain breaks!
Make A Brain Break Spinner
How’s this for a brain break during the day?!
Posted by Sanford Fit Kids on Friday, January 4, 2019
One way to make sure educational brain breaks are effective is to change up activities. Check out this step-by-step video from Sanford fit that shows you how to make your own Wheel of Fortune-type game to help you add variety to brain breaks!
Find The Timing That Works Best For Your Child
Build a brain break schedule to help you remember to use them! This will also help your child stay motivated during work time, knowing they have a break coming up.
What should your schedule look like?
Research shows that after 10 to 30 minutes, time on task starts to decline. This means scheduling a 3-5 minute brain break every 20 minutes or so will be best for most kids. But depending on your childs age and specific needs, this timing may need to be adjusted.
You can also plan breaks around tasks instead of timing. For example, you might decide to give your child a brain break once they answer 5 math questions.
Figure out what your child responds best to, and create a brain break schedule that works for both of you.
But be flexible when the time comes. If your childs attention seems to be fading, start a brain break early. If theyre on a roll, hold off on taking a break.
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Best Time Of Day To Schedule Brain Breaks
- Intermittently during times when kids need to sustain focus
- When a student is feeling frustrated and needs a short break
- Transition times when you need to bring energy levels down
- During unpreferred tasks for example, while cleaning their bedroom
- Before bed use a calming brain break
- In the morning use an energizing brain break
Note: Parents, if your child struggles with focus and attention, or self-regulation, it might be beneficial to speak with their school about incorporating extra scheduled brain breaks into their school day.
Best Brain Breaks To Recharge Kids
Thanks to the recent developments in the science of learning and neurology, your kids do not need to put in long, continuous hours of study to really learn.
In fact, what research suggests is that short focused time slots followed with regular intervals, brain breaks, is an effective way for efficient learning.
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Brain Breaks For Cognitive Wellbeing
Brain breaks are simple physical and mental exercises. They have a positive effect on learning by:
- increasing engagement and cognitive functioning,
- supporting the brain maturation process,
- enhancing focus, mood and learning,
- increasing students perceived competence,
Furthermore, if the brain breaks are physical, they have the additional benefits of:
- increasing circulation,
- increasing the oxygen in the bloodstream which leads to improved concentration,
- and allowing the students to get out of their chairs.
The 12 Best Brain Break For The Classroom And Virtual Learning
Okay! Now to the fun part! This list of brain break ideas will allow your students to get up and moving, recharge their motivation, de-stress and calm down, and increase brain activity. Since we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, and likely, your classes are vastly changed from how they normally are, we will make sure to provide ways to have these fun breaks safely. Plus, your kids will love the chance to take a break!
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Have A List To Choose From
Great brain breaks for the classroom are ones that are well thought out and planned. The best way to do this is to have a go-to list of brain break ideas that give students either the energy or the calming effect needed. Also, having a list put together with the brain breaks, you know, work takes all of the guesswork out of what to do for your class.
Clap For A Little Call And Response
Pep things up with a little call and response clapping. Its simple to do and is often used in the classroom to get students attention. Simply clap out a pattern that your kids will repeat back to you. Switch out the pattern a few times until everyone is focused and engaged. Alternatively, try a vocal call and response. Sing out a few riffs and have kids echo the tune back to you.
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What Do Teachers Have To Say About Brain Breaks
Here is what teachers had to say about using brain breaks in their classroom.
- I create a special box for students to take turns choosing a “brain break activity.” Students love to reach their hand in this mystery box to discover what quick activity we will do!
- Brain breaks do not have to be five minutes or less. In my classroom, I adjust the time based on my students’ needs. If I see they got all of their energy out in one minute I will redirect them to the lesson. If I notice that they need more than five minutes then I allow that too!
- Write six brain break activities on a die and have students take turns rolling the die between each task. Or, create a list of activities for each number on a die. Then when students roll, they look on the chart to see which activity they will be doing.
- In my classroom, we do air band! Students have a blast pretending they are playing different instruments in the air. It’s a fun way to get their energy out and we always have a blast doing it.
Do Nothing For Two Minutes
Never underestimate the power of stillness. When the energy gets a little ramped up, and its time for the entire class to take a pause, have them drop everything and glue their eyes to the screen as you show this countdown. The gentle lulling of the waves and the sight of the sun sparkling off the water will reset their nervous system in a jiffy.
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Use Fitboost For A 3 Minute Break
There are so many great educational brain breaks out there. This is why we love this amazing free resource from Sanford fit. Click Lets Go! and youll get three fun moves designed to get your kids warmed up, moving, and cooled downperfect for physical fitness and mental alertness. Plus, there are easy-to-print cards with dozens of action-packed brain breaks to have on hand.
Sensory Brain Breaks For Kids
Fresh air is always encouraged! Stepping outside for a few minutes can make a bigger difference than youd think.
It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.
2. Scavenger hunt
Give your child different things to find and explore throughout the house. During each brain break, they can try to find one new item on their list.
You can do tons of different things with playdough. Thats why its always a favorite among kids!
Let your child build something new or just squish some playdough around whatever they prefer.
Try this recipe for homemade playdough.
4. Sensory bin
Sensory bins are a popular option, especially for kids with sensory needs. You can change the items in the bin as often as youd like to keep your child from getting bored or understimulated.
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Find Out How Its Made
Remember that classic Sesame Street video about how crayons are made? We watched in awe as crayons rolled off the assembly line, wrapped in paper, and then slipped into those familiar cardboard boxes. Kids today are just as fascinated by how things are made! Here are our favorite videos about how things are madefrom fireworks to LEGOs.
The Neuroscience Of Brain Break
Scientifically, when the amygdala is at full capacity and has reached information overload, and the student cannot retain new information brain breaks are necessary because they enable the restoration of neurotransmitters to facilitate the recovery of the brain. Since our brains have a finite amount of neurotransmitters, it is essential to allow one area of the brain to rest and recover while a second area is active and working. This ensures that all brain areas are not depleted, and thus, information is retained and stored.
We may also say brain breaks are intentional learning shifts that offer the brain the opportunity to revitalize itself it is a chance to reestablish the flow of traffic or, in this case, information in order for it to reach its intended destination. Brain breaks allow students to switch between different brain networks, allowing the resting path to be revitalized and refocused, allowing the brain to achieve memory retention once rested. In other words, brain breaks are exercises designed to soothe the mind. These pauses have proven to enhance our thinking practices and nurture learning in all its forms.
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Brain Break Ideas To Help Your Students Focus
Melissa WilliamsMay 9, 2019
Everyone can use a little break sometimes. Maybe its because your students have been studying diligently or working on challenging concepts, or perhaps a holiday is approaching or one has just wrapped up. Of course, its also possible that your students simply need a quick break from the norm to refocus and be productive.
Whatever the reason, having a stock of cool brain break activity ideas on hand can be a lifesaver. Lets review some break ideas that you can use in your class so your students can feel re-energized and ready to go.
And hey these brain breaks can be great for you as a teacher, too! Its wonderful to free yourself from the regular routines once in a while and have some fun with your students.
The Brain Breaks Mechanism
We already know, each student learns differently and at a different pace. But a general theme of learning that connects all pupils at different levels is the dire need for cerebral pauses. For students to reach their full potential and acquire information appropriately, their brain must send sensory receptor signals to where the brain stores memories. These sensory receivers are specialized cells that react to physical and chemical stimuli such as what students see, hear, touch, smell and taste.
When students are overloaded with information, their brains fail to remember the information they receive. They get blocked, and the knowledge provided is not stored the way it is intended to. The new information cannot reach the prefrontal cortex because the amygdala has reached its maximum capacity and cannot adequately support memory or knowledge.
The short brain breaks refresh students’ thinking process and allow their brain to take rest and feel relaxed. During these pauses, the brain deviates from learning, memorization and problem-solving. Brain breaks enable students to regulate their feelings and prepare for the next wave of information.
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Relaxing Brain Breaks For Kids
These brain breaks help kids calm down and reset their energy. Theyre especially helpful if your child is starting to feel stressed about what theyre working on.
1. Yoga poses
Get the body moving, while also helping kids relax and practice mindfulness. Yoga can be a huge stress reliever for all ages, so join in when you can!
2. Calming music
Listen to a relaxing song to help your child unwind. Have them sit somewhere comfortable, relax and enjoy the music in between learning tasks.
3. Calming videos
Find short clips on YouTube Kids to play for your child. Choose a few new ones based on their interests, or find videos you already know they enjoy watching.
Let your child color a picture . This is a relaxing way to get creative juices flowing. Plus, they can display the final product when theyre done!
Use a coloring page or give your child a blank piece of paper to draw their own picture.
5. Deep breathing
Help your child decompress with some deep breathing exercises. This will instantly help them relax and relieve stress so they can feel ready to take on their next task.
Encourage your child to try this: breathe in through the nose while placing your hand on your stomach to feel it expand. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach contract. Repeat.
Or, try a technique like 4-7-8 breathing or five finger breathing.
Make A List Of Activities
Create a list to ensure you always have options. This way, youll have no problem thinking of a fun brain break to give your child when the time comes.
Write or print them on a piece of paper, or use a more creative option:
- Put them on large dice or beach balls
- Write them on paper or popsicle sticks to pull from a box or jar
Once you have your list, you can choose the brain breaks yourself, let your child choose or make it a surprise!
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Talk About It Afterward
When work is finished, talk to kids about their experiences.
This gives them a chance to provide feedback that will help you understand how you can optimize your brain breaks.
Ask your child the following questions:
- What was your favorite brain break?
- How did you find todays work/homework?
- How do you think the brain break helped you?
Brain Break Ideas And Activities To Try
Let the students know they are building up their brain power during these breaks, and plan brain breaks according to the age of the children you are working with. Schedule them into lessons, and set a timer to ensure they are implemented. Students need to engage in these breaks before they become distracted or tired. It is best to include a variety so all students can enjoy and look forward to them. Periodically allow students to decide what the brain break will be. An example would be to allow a student that has a birthday to choose the brain breaks for the day.
Teachers can also reinforce skills that are taught in class. This allows them to utilize different parts of their brains during the lesson. It is best to model the brain break and sometimes participate with students. The kids love to see the teacher in a different role. It is best to be flexible, and include opportunities to socialize and move. Incorporate games into learning, and brain breaks will be blended into the lesson.
Go Noodle is one of the most popular brain break websites, and students love it! There is a plethora of songs including reinforcing academic skills, stretches, and movement. These are free, short videos that help students engage in movement in the classroom.
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Brain Break Riddles And Jokes
I love having a quick joke break or riddle break with students. You can do a quick google search to find some kid friendly riddles, or ask students to share any jokes or riddles they are able to come up with. Sometimes, I will even turn it into a competition where I put students in groups and they have 1 or 5 minutes to come up with the funniest joke that they can.
Brain Breaks Work For Younger And Older Kids
At first glance, brain breaks might just seem like a fun distraction for kids to have a quick indoor recess. And while thats true, there are so many more benefits for kids and educators.
Brain breaks provide relief from constant hands-on learning. They can relieve stress, alleviate pressure and even help boost self-esteem if done right.
Next time your child or students are working, watch how much they get energized from these short breaks. You might even start adding them to your day.
We hope you found a new favorite in this list of brain break ideas and activities.
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The Would You Rather Game
This game is fun for kids and adults alike. Because students are likely socially distanced within the classroom, have your students pair up with their assigned buddy or small group of three. Give each student a piece of paper with a list of fun would you rather questions, with each question having two choices for kids. Allow your students no more than 5 to 6 minutes for this activity and ensure that they get up out of their seats and have students stand up while participating.
Not sure what to ask? There are a ton of fun questions online, or use some of these!
Would you rather
Adapting to Virtual Learning
With this particular brain break, have students from home participate in a quick Zoom class with you! If you monitor your old child with virtual class and this is an assignment, go ahead and make a video asking each other questions and submit it to the teacher. In the case that you are the teacher, have fun asking these silly questions with your child!