15 Movement Brain Breaks Perfect For Fidgety Learners

15 Movement Brain Breaks Perfect For Fidgety Learners

This school year is tough for kids who need frequent movement – and for the teachers trying to keep them focused. Being behind a screen all day doesn’t allow enough activity for most kids. It’s especially challenging for those fidgety kids with lots of energy to burn. There are also fewer opportunities for movement at in-person schools due to social distancing requirements. This is where physical movement brain breaks come in. They can be done at school or home, while maintaining social distancing, in short spurts throughout the day.

Here are 15 socially distant physical movement brain breaks:

1. A new take on “criss-cross applesauce”

Criss-cross jacks let kids stay in their own space if needed. If virtual teaching, you can encourage them to exaggerate the moves. Have kids cross their legs like scissors instead of jumping out as they bring each hand to the opposite shoulder. These moves are different enough from the normal jumping jack they engage the brain in a new way.

2. Strike up the (virtual) band!

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!

3. Spin, spin, spin around

Spinning in circles is great for the sensory system and helps with impulse control, making it a strong movement brain break. 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. Take a flamingo stance

Flamingos are famous for standing on one leg. Get your students to strike a flamingo stance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds and then switching. This is great for focus. Physical movement brain breaks can be adapted to meet the needs and abilities of your students, of course

5. Play a game of “Freeze!”

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

6. Work the midline

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.

7. Write in the air with flair

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. The bigger the air “writing” the more movement kids get.

8. Spontaneous dance party

Pick a song to use as a signal. Whenever you play it, everyone jumps up and dances in place. Do this randomly throughout the day. It works wonders for both students with slumping energy levels and those who are bouncing around in their seats.

9. The classic: “Simon Says

When the teacher is Simon, all the moves can be modified to meet social distancing guidelines and really get kids moving.

10. Have a good shake

Stand up and just shake – legs, arms, torso, head. Playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is optional – but always a fun addition!

11. Sit stand, sit stand

Instruct everyone to quickly stand up and then sit back down. Repeat 10 times. Do it with them to get your squats in, too!

12. Do the “Cha-Cha Slide

The movements in the “Cha-Cha Slide” are perfect for movement brain breaks. You can even have students work in socially distant small groups (in person or in virtual breakout rooms) to learn the moves together.

13. Practice (virtual) basketball layups

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

14. Learn some yoga poses

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. Down Dog yoga app is free for teachers and students until July, so check that out, too!

15. 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.

Do these physical movement brain breaks several times a day to help everyone get some important movement.


15 Movement Brain Breaks Perfect For Fidgety Learners

Like it? Share with your friends!

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
Choose A Format
Share your amazing stories, tips, opinions, and other stuff that matters.
Upload your funny, inspiring, DIY, or informative video(s) for the world to see!
Personality quiz
Leave the serious quizzes at school, these are strictly fun! You make the questions and pre-define the results.
Trivia quiz
Time to test your friends' knowledge! You choose the subject and have fun seeing who scores the highest!
Pose any question to millions of educators by creating your own polls/surveys, whether for research, for fun, or for the sake of curiosity!
Share your classroom decor, costumes, funny classroom antics, silly grading moments, or other teacher life shenanigans!

Get the best teacher newsletter your inbox has ever seen!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Get the best teacher newsletter your inbox has ever seen!

Don't worry, we don't spam