25 Fun Classroom Brain Breaks That Maintain Social Distancing

25 Fun Classroom Brain Breaks That Maintain Social Distancing

Socially distant brain breaks are going to be a crucial part of healthy classrooms this year. Kids (and teachers) are overwhelmed and stressed. School looks a whole lot different this year, plus many kids (and teachers) have a lot of worries outside of school regarding the health and safety of loved ones. This makes concentrating in class a challenge. Brain breaks help with attention, focus, mood, and motivation. Many of the brain breaks teachers used in the past involved touching, close quarters, and sharing items, so those won’t work this year. However, socially distant brain breaks can be just as effective – and can also be used with online learners.

Here are 25 socially distant brain breaks that follow CDC classroom guidelines:

1. Mini Criss-Cross Jacks

You might not have enough space to do full jumping jacks. However, criss-cross jacks allow kids to stay in their own space. Plus, the moves are different enough from what kids are familiar with to engage the brain in a new way. Have kids cross their legs like scissors instead of jumping out as they bring each hand to the opposite shoulder.

2. Handwriting Switcheroo

Writing with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain. Have students write their spelling words or vocabulary list or math problems with their non-dominant hand.

3. You Spin Me Round

Spinning in circles is great for the sensory system and helps with impulse control. Have everyone stand up and slowly walk their bodies in a circle three times, then reverse the direction three times. Play with the speed and add on rotations (up to 10) as students get used to this activity.

4. Pipe Cleaner Fidget Sticks

Pipe cleaners are great fidget tools. Give each student a few to keep in their desk and encourage them to pull them out whenever they need to take their own socially distant brain breaks. If you’re teaching remotely, encourage parents to add a pack to the supply list (they’re available at Dollar Tree).

5. Virtual Band Class

Put on some music and have kids stand up and pretend to play different instruments. Need it to be a quiet activity? Instead of playing music, be a silent band!

6. Massage Your Ears

The ears are full of pressure points. Take a few minutes of quiet and have students massage their ears.

Challenge students to blink their left eye while snapping their right fingers. Do this five times and then switch to right eye and left fingers.

8. Clap It Out

Call out a word and have students clap out the letters or syllables when repeating it back to you. This also works with math concepts, such as counting by 2 or 5.

9. Be a Flamingo

Have students stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Then switch legs. Socially distant brain breaks can be adapted to meet the needs and abilities of your students, of course

10. Work Standing Up

Standing desks are shown to have many health benefits, including improved mood and energy.

11. Strike a Pose

Have students stand up and move at their desks. Call out “Freeze!” and then have them hold whatever pose they’re in for 10 seconds. Unfreeze and repeat a few times.

12. Write in the Air

Instruct students to write their names, vocabulary words, or math problems in the air. You can also ask questions and have them write their answers in the air.

13. Take a Mindfulness Break

Mindfulness helps create a calm and peaceful classroom. Check out these mindfulness apps and work even a few minutes a day into your class routine.

14. Pat Your Head and Rub Your Belly

Some classics still work as socially distant brain breaks! Challenge students to pat their heads and rub their bellies at the same time.

15. Sudden 1-Minute Dance Party

Pick a song to use as a signal. Whenever you play it, everyone jumps up and dances in place.

16. Simon Says

Another classic! When the teacher is Simon, all the moves can be modified to meet social distancing guidelines.

17. Midline Moves

Crossing the midline (middle of body) improves brain function. Have kids stand and pretend they’re washing windows. Get the whole body in on it by instructing students to touch their right elbow to their left knee and their left elbow to their right knee.

20. Shake It Off

Stand up and just shake – legs, arms, torso, head. Playing Taylor Swift is optional – but always a fun addition!

21. Stand Up, Sit Down

Instruct everyone to quickly stand up and then sit back down. Repeat 10 times.

22. Virtual Basketball Layups

Have everyone stand up and pretend to shoot basketball layups, alternating arms. Encourage victory dances for making their virtual shots.

23. Chair Yoga

Many yoga poses like seated cat and cow are perfect for socially distant brain breaks. Here is a great list of chair yoga poses for kids.

24. Do the Twist

Twisting is great for getting in some movement in a small place. Play the classic song or just have students stand up and twist their bodies to the left and right.

25. And the Cha-Cha Slide!

Teaching the Cha-Cha Slide should be on every teacher’s 2020-2021 plan. The movements are perfect for socially distant brain breaks.

Kids who are learning behind a screen also need breaks. Fortunately, these socially distant brain breaks are also perfect for remote learning.


25 Fun Classroom Brain Breaks That Maintain Social Distancing

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed., an editor at Bored Teachers, is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She's been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga. Connect with her at rachael.m@boredteachers.com
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