20 Best Brain Break Ideas for Your Classroom

20 Best Brain Break Ideas for Your Classroom

Sometimes the material can get overwhelming, the class can get a little rambunctious, or everyone just needs to take a mental breather. Here are 20 great ways to get your class ready to learn again.

1. Spelling Baseball

Divide the class into two teams. Designate bases around the room. Each “batter” spells a word and if correct, advances to the next base. Set a time and see how many bases each team can spell in the allotted time. 

2. Blink & Snap 

Engaging both sides of the brain is a good way to energize your class. Have them try this: Blink your left eye while simultaneously snapping your fingers with your right hand. Then, blink your right eye and while snapping with your left hand. Try to blink one eye while snapping on the opposite side’s hand 15 times in a row alternating eyes. 

3. Line up, line up, everybody line up!

Have your students get in line but give them parameters for their line–oldest to youngest, by shoe size or alphabetical by middle name. This is especially great to practice collaboration skills before a group project. 

4. Play-doh break (Emphasis on Play!)

Keep a few containers of Play-doh on hand. When you need a break, just hand a clump of dough to a person or group. You can challenge them to make something you suggest or have them create something and let the class guess what is it supposed to be. 

5. Multiple Choice –Multiple Movements!

When reviewing multiple-choice questions, make answering questions a physical activity. Ask students a question and have them respond by jumping into the correct position. For example, if the answer is A, have them stand with feet together. If B, stand with legs apart. If the answer is C, turn to face the back of the room. If it’s D, stand with one foot in front of the other. This a great visual way to gauge understanding and also gets kids moving!

6. Secret Handshake

Challenge your students to create secret handshakes with a partner. Give them five minutes to rehearse and memorize their handshake. You can have them demonstrate for the class randomly throughout your time to create smaller breaks. 

7.  Mental Math

Assign values to certain points, for example: Nose =1, Ear = 2, Eye = 3. In partners, have students “create” math problems by touching a series of points while the other person mentally adds (or subtracts) the numbers given. For example, if I touch my nose, then my ear, then my nose again, my partner would give an answer of 4. 

8. Do Nothing

Go to the site http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com and let your kids, literally do nothing. You can talk about how short or long two minutes feel depending on how you use that time–think about somewhere you’d like to be or close your eyes and take a deep breath. The time will fly! If you watch the clock? You may feel differently.  If your students have their own devices, you have them bring it up themselves. Touching the screen or mouse will reset the timer!

9. Hit the Road!

Okay, not literally. But, if the sun is shining, take a walk! Everyone, kids and grownups alike, reaps the benefit of some fresh air and a little vitamin D. Just five minutes in a safe, common area can turn the class around. 

10. Would You Rather

Pose questions to the class and have them move to different locations in the room based on their answer. If you’d prefer spaghetti, stand here. If you’d rather have tacos, over here. This is a great way to get blood flowing and get to know your students in a light-hearted way!

11. Scavenger Hunt

Call out something with a specific trait, i.e. something red, something made of wood, something soft, etc. Have students race to find a corresponding object. The last person standing is out. Repeat until you’re down to one winner. 

12. Pop!

Create a circle and designate how you will count (by 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, etc). As you go around the circle, each students numbers off, with the person who has the “magic” number yelling “POP!” instead. So, if you’re counting by threes, the game would go 1, 2, POP!, 4, 5, POP! You can do this for a few rounds or create a game where if someone messes up, they’re out!

13. Sparkle

Similar to counting, this is a group spelling game. Have students create a circle. Give them a word to spell but tell them that they will indicate the word is complete by saying “sparkle”. So, if you ask them to spell “Dog”, each person will say a letter and the fourth person will say sparkle. D-O-G-Sparkle! Whoever messes up the spelling is out. Repeat until you have a winner. 

14. Syllable stomp

Have students stomp out syllables as they speak. You can have them read something from the board or speak in partners about their day. Stomping while speaking activates multiple parts of the brain and makes this a really energizing activity!

15. The Classic

Have everyone stand up and rub their head while patting their belly. For your younger students, this will be a true challenge. For your older ones, a chance to get in a good laugh and get out some silly energy. 

16. Rock, Paper, Scissors Olympics

Have students partner up to play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner “collects” their partner as a cheerleader and finds a new partner to challenge. Students continue playing and “collecting” cheerleaders until the class is down to two players with half of the class cheering for each side! It’s a fun way to create some unity and build each other up if you’ve had some personality conflicts!

17. Pen Flipping

Have students take a pen and flip it ONE REVOLUTION with their dominant hand. If they master that, try the other hand. Got that down? Try two pens at once!

18. Air Play

Have students use their finger to draw pictures or spell words for a partner in the air. For added benefit, have them use vocabulary words. They can take turns guessing what is being spelled or drawn. 

19. As If!

Give students scenarios to act out at their desks. This gives them a chance to work out some energy but also think critically. Run in place as if you’re being chased by a bear. Pretend to write as if your hands are tied behind your back. Reach up as if you are popping bubbles. Crouch down as if a bee is hovering above you.

20. Dance it out!

When all else fails, turn on some high energy music for a few minutes and let kids dance or someone lead the class in a few moves. It is a good way to be silly and refocus their minds. Avoid using screens during this time as that will lessen the effect of the brain break. 

20 Best Brain Break Ideas for Your Classroom

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I am a Southern gal, mama to two kids (8 years and 6 months) and I have been teaching middle school for over 7 years. I love to go hiking or read a book in my free time. My favorite part of teaching is connecting with kids over things beyond just academics--teenagers are awesome!

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