Monday, March 2, 2015

"Brain Break" Ideas

"Brain Breaks" are becoming increasingly popular in school. These short breaks may add some physical activity into the classroom, but they have also been proven to increase educational performance.  We may call it a "break" but movement actually energizes and activates the brain. This causes students to re-focus, thus limiting off-task behavior.

I've seen "Brain Breaks" in several different fashions. Many teachers have task cards with the activity printed on the card, which is picked at random. I've also seen a table where you roll two dice and match those numbers with the coordinates of the table to determine the activity. Also, Popsicle sticks with circular printouts attached to the top are picked out of a mug. The printouts tend to have a picture of the activity on one side and a description of the activity on the other. For a more 21st century style, the site GoNoodle has interactive Brain Break videos. All of these resources are great, but personally I think it's harder to incorporate your own ideas while matching the original resource's format.

Personally, I prefer the traditional "task on a Popsicle stick" method. There aren't any fancy pictures or descriptions on the sticks, but I found that it was the easiest to make and also to add your own. And to be honest, it's much cheaper than the Brain Breaks you might pay for on Teacher's Pay Teachers.

All you need are the following supplies:

  • Sharpie Permanent Marker
  • One small piece of construction paper
  • Colored Craft Sticks (You can buy a 75-pack at AC Moore for $2.50)
  • A cup (I bought a 3-pack of cups from the Dollar Store)
I wrote the "Brain Break" onto a Popsicle stick, and put it in the cup. That's it!  The question is, what kind of activities did I use for my Brain Breaks? 

Below is a list of activities with the description for each Brain Break. You could do each activity for a timed period, or do a specific number of each.  Print out the list so you can refer to it as a reference when Brain Breaks are picked out of the cup.

Here are the Brain Break's with their descriptions:

“Brain Breaks” List

4 Corners: Label each corner a number from 1-4. One student will close his/her eyes and count to 10. The rest of the class will pick a corner and stand there. The counting student’s eyes will remain closed, and they will pick a number. The students in that numbered corner are out. Continue process until one student is left. When there are four or less students left, each of those students must be in a different corner.

Air Guitar: Students will “rock out” with an air guitar or other band instrument of their choice.

Alligator Chomps: Make alligator chomp motions with arms for 30 seconds.

Arm Stretch: 30 seconds of arm stretches for each arm.

Balance on one foot: 30 seconds for each foot, or who can balance the longest.

Beach Ball: The class has to try to keep a beach ball in the air as long as possible.

Bird Wings: Flap your arms like a bird for 30 seconds.

Charades: Can be done in pairs, groups, or as a whole class. Students act out while the others guess.

Cowboy Walk: Get your lasso ready and walk around the classroom like a cowboy/cowgirl.

Crab Walk: Do a forward crabwalk around the classroom for 30 seconds. Then try a backward crabwalk for 30 seconds.

Cross Crawls: Tap left elbow to right knee, tap right elbow to left knee. Do this continuously for 30 seconds.

Elephant Trunk: March like an elephant for 30 seconds.

Frankenstein Walk: Put your arms out, take big steps, and walk like a monster.

Freeze Dance: Put on some music, but when it stops the dancers must freeze. If they move, they’re out!

Frog Hops: Hop around the classroom like a frog for 30 seconds.

Hangman: Have the class solve a puzzle by guessing letters before a full stick figure is created.

Heads Up, 7 Up: 7 students go to the front of the classroom. Everyone else puts their heads down, and their thumbs up. The 7 students each pick a student and put his/her thumb down. The 7 up return to the front of the classroom. Those with their thumbs down stand and try to guess who picked them. If guessed correctly the person is either out, or switches with the person who guessed them.

Heavy Lifting: Pretend you are walking around carrying something heavy.

High Fives: High five as many students as you can in 30 seconds.

High Knees: Lift your knees high and quickly; do high knee exercises for 30 seconds.

Hop on one foot: 30 seconds for each foot.

Horse gallop: Gallop around the classroom for 30 seconds.

Hot/Cold: Send a student into the hallway. Hide an object. Student comes back in and tries to find the object while classmates give hints using temperatures to see how close they are to the object.

Hot potato: Pass around an object while playing music. When the music stops, whoever has the ball is out. Continue until a winner is declared.

I Spy: Play in pairs, groups, or whole class. One student picks an object, gives hints. The others have to guess the object.

Jump 5x: Jump as high as you can five times.

Jumping Jacks: 30 seconds of jumping jacks.

Just Dance: Put on some music and have the students dance freestyle. Or put on a Just Dance tutorial and have them follow the moves and learn a new dance.

Leg stretch: 30 seconds of leg stretches for each leg.

Lunges: Do lunges for 30 seconds with each leg.

Mountain Climbers: Get into a pushup position. Move both legs back and forth. Do for 30 seconds.

Penguin Waddle: Walk around the room like a penguin for 30 seconds.

Pictionary: Play in pairs, group, whole class. Draw a picture and others have to guess what it is.

Planking: Hold your body up with you forearms and toes for 30 seconds.

Pushups: 30 seconds of pushups. Who can do the most?

Robot Dance: Dance like a robot for 30 seconds.

Rock-Paper-Scissors: Play rock-paper-scissors with partners. See who wins the most games. Or have a RPS tournament. Play with a partner, winner finds another winner. Each winner keeps finding a new winner until one winner is left.

Run in place: 30 seconds of jogging in place.

Run in slow motion: Pretend your running around the classroom, but do it in slow motion like you’re watching an instant replay. Play the slow motion music too!

Scattergories: Can be done in groups or individually. Put some topics/categories on the board (or from a Google image of a Scattergories deck). Pick a letter. Students have two minutes to pick a word that matches each, and write them down. Each group/person shares their answers. If another group has the same word, they don’t get a point. If no other groups have the answers, then a point is earned. Team with most points wins.

Shoulder/Neck Rolls: Start with arms at your sides, lift your shoulders to your ears and roll shoulders around. Try with your neck now.

Silent Ball: Pass a ball around the room. If a person makes a sound, they’re out. If a person drops the ball or makes a bad throw, they are also out.

Simon Says: The classic game of Simon Says. Either the teacher or a student could be “Simon.” If Simon doesn’t say “Simon,” those who complete the task are out.

Sit-ups: 30 seconds of sit-ups. Who can do the most?

Sparkle: Pick a spelling word. Students have to go around in a circle, spelling the word, one letter at a time. Once the word is done being spelled, the next student says, “Sparkle.” The next student is out. If a student says the wrong letter, they are also out. Continue until one person is left.

Spin 3x: Do a full 360 rotation 3 times.

Squats: Bend your legs, put your arms out, and do 30 seconds of squats.

Star Jumps: Start crouched down like a frog. Then jump up quickly and put your arms out like a jumping jack. Do continuously for 30 seconds.

Swimming Strokes: Pretend to swim around the classroom. Try different swimming strokes.

Superman: Lay on your belly, lift your arms and legs up straight and hold for 3 seconds each. You should look like Superman flying!

Telephone: Whisper down the lane. Pick a phrase, whisper it into ones ear once. Continue whispering what is heard until it gets to the last person. See if the phrase changed or stayed the same.

The Wave: Line up, and do the wave like you’re at a sporting event.

Tic-tac-toe: Play tic-tac-toe with a partner. Or, do extreme tic-tac-toe by ding a tic-tac-toe game within a tic-tac-toe game. Or, do a tic-tac-toe tournament. The loser is eliminated, but the winner finds another winner, until there is one winner left.

Tip Toe Walk: Walk around the classroom on your tippy toes for 30 seconds.

Toe Touches: Bend down and touch your toes for 30 seconds. Can also spread out legs and reach down to one foot, then switch legs.

Tree Pose: Put hands together to look like you’re praying. Stand up one leg. The other leg will be bent against the leg you are standing on, looking like a triangle. Switch legs.

Triangle Pose: Spread legs out like a V. Bend one arm down in front of one of your feet, with your other arm reaching up toward the sky. Switch sides.

Tuck Jumps: Jump as high as you can and bring your knees up. Do 10 of these.    
Twist: Twist all the way down to the ground, and back up for 30 seconds.

Waiter: Grab a notebook and balance it on one hand. Reach over your head and behind your back. Switch arms.

Warrior Pose: Do a lunge motion with your arms out like a T.

Windmills: Make circles with both your arms for 30 seconds. Or, do one arm at a time for 30 seconds, then switch. Go forward first, then backward.

You can download this list on The Teacher Sharing Network's Teachers Pay Teachers Page.  What are your favorite Brain Breaks? Add your favorites in the comment section!

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