13 Brain Breaks for Classrooms To Try This Week

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In today’s fast-paced educational environment, fostering student engagement and concentration is more important than ever. However, rather than focusing on more work and academic-related activities, one of the best ways to help keep students involved in learning throughout the day is to offer the opportunity for brain breaks.

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Discover quick brain breaks for classrooms, as well as how to incorporate these brief, enjoyable activities into the day to help rejuvenate students’ minds.

key Takeaways

Brain breaks as short, intentional breaks that help engage other parts of the brain outside of focused concentration.

Creative brain breaks can help boost attention spans and regulate energy levels.

There are many types of brain breaks for classrooms that can meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of students. 

Brain breaks can be used alongside lesson plans and tailored to meet the preferences of students of all ages.

What are Brain Breaks?

Brain breaks are brief, international pauses strategically integrated into instructional time to give students a mental breather. These breaks offer renewed focus and can help enhance engagement by allowing students to pause focused concentration and work with different parts of their brain. 

Oftentimes, brain breaks for classrooms involve movement, stretching, or quick mental and physical games to help recharge students’ cognitive abilities. Brain breaks can come in various forms, from short, learning-related activities to physical games, all of which help promote better learning outcomes. 

Quick Brain Breaks for Classrooms

With hundreds of different brain break ideas, there is no shortage of ways to incorporate these quick pauses into the school day. Explore some of the most popular brain breaks for classrooms, and learn more about how you can make these breaks a regular part of instructional time.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are excellent brain breaks for classrooms. They can be readily adapted to different grade levels and preferences. This helps incorporate them into the day-to-day classroom routine. This brain break can also be helpful when you are short on time, as stretching exercises can easily be completed in only a minute or two.

Some examples of stretching exercises to use next time your students need a mental break include:

  • Toe touches
  • Arm circles
  • Neck rolls
  • Seated forward bend
  • Quad stretch
  • Side stretch
  • Cobra stretch
  • Butterfly stretch

There are a variety of stretches that can be done while standing or seated. This helps to address any accommodations that students may need based on physical abilities. 

kids balancing
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Minute To Win It Challenges

Minute to Win It challenges may take a bit longer than stretching exercises, but they provide a unique brain break that pairs rejuvenated focus with friendly competition. In these challenges, students will compete with one another, or against time, to complete simple tasks.

Many of these can be completed within a minute, making them easy to add to your schedule, but they can be expanded on. Different challenges can be utilized as well in order to help this brain break align with lesson plans. 

Deep Breathing Exercises

Sometimes, one of the best breaks during the school day can be an intentional pause focused on grounding and mindfulness through deep breathing exercises. These can be done on their own or paired with other brain breaks like stretching. 

Deep breathing exercises are a simple yet effective brain break for the classroom that can help students

  • Relax
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve focus
  • Recenter attention.
kids doing yoga during a quick brain breaks for kids
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Quick Dance Party

Many students of all ages can appreciate a quick break during the day to listen to music, dance, and use up any extra energy that they may have. To make the most out of this quick brain break, choose a brief song and allow students to dance, wiggle, and move. By getting their blood pumping, your students will have the chance to return to their work with better focus and attention. 

For older students, you may find it best to choose a familiar group dance. These can be simple choices, such as “Cha Cha Slide” or “Cupid Shuffle”, that are easy to learn and encourage the students to dance together. For younger students, free-for-all dancing may be best suited, especially when compared to complex dances with specific steps.

Brain Teasers

Brain breaks don’t have to be focused on physical movement and activities. Instead, they can also be dedicated to helping students engage other parts of their brain, such as creativity. As a result, one of the most popular and easy brain breaks for classrooms is brain teasers. 

Set a timer for one minute, give your students an easy brain teaser, and allow them to think about it and make their guesses. This is also a great activity to use to encourage group collaboration, as students can talk amongst themselves and bounce ideas off one another.

Coloring and Drawing

As mentioned before, brain breaks that focus on creativity can be just as helpful as jumping jacks, dancing, and other physical activities for students. Coloring and drawing can be helpful ways to allow students to express creativity, and it can be easily tailored to the lesson plan. 

Along with the benefits that come with including coloring and drawing in the day, such as reduced stress, this brain break can also be easily adapted for all ages and grade levels.

girl painting a sun
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

How to Incorporate Brain Breaks for Classrooms

Because of the busy nature of instructional time, finding time for additional activities like brain breaks for classrooms can be challenging. However, integrating these brief pauses can enhance productivity and focus, ultimately helping make the most of each school day. Plus, with strategic scheduling, brain breaks can easily be incorporated into two- to three-minute pauses throughout the day, depending on the activity. 

Here are some tips for seamlessly including brain breaks for classrooms throughout the day:

  • Schedule regular breaks every 20 to 30 minutes
  • Incorporate a mix of physical, mental, and sensory brain breaks
  • Align brain breaks with learning objectives
  • Limit brain breaks to no more than five minutes
  • Involve students in selecting or leading a break break activity
  • Create a routine
  • Be flexible to help adapt breaks to the students’ needs.

Tailoring Brain Breaks To Grade-Level

One of the best ways to ensure that you are properly incorporating brain breaks for classrooms is to tailor activities to the grade or age level. This can help make the most of intentional pauses by helping all students feel engaged. 

In early childhood, playful movements and a focus on familiar ideas can be best. This includes activities such as animal walks, dancing to music, or even engaging with common storybooks. These brain breaks tap into the natural energy and enthusiasm that younger students have. 

As students age, they often do better with more focused brain breaks, including those that focus more on mental or collaborative engagement. This can be especially true in middle school and high school. Mindfulness exercises, trivia, puzzles, and other activities that offer a break from academic rigor while still engaging critical thinking skills can offer the most benefits. 

Here are some additional tips for tailoring brain breaks for classrooms to your specific grade level:

  • Know your students and their individual needs, interests, and energy levels
  • Integrate activities that are physically, cognitively, and emotionally age-appropriate
  • Offer a range of activities that appeal to different learning styles and preferences
  • Keep brain breaks brief
  • Incorporate visual cures or prompts to help students understand and engage with the activity
  • Make it fun
  • Align any brain breaks with the curriculum
  • Regularly seek feedback and input from students. 

Author

  • Megan Martin

    Megan is a professional writer with over 5 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University. In her free time, Megan is an avid birdwatcher who enjoys spending time with her cats and watching documentaries with her husband.

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