32 Brain Breaks for Kids To Try This Week

kids smiling in hula hoops

Focusing for long periods can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially tricky for kids. Brain breaks can help alleviate cognitive fatigue and frustration for students, and implementing them can be a game changer at home and in the classroom. 

These brief, intentional breaks between tasks can improve students’ focus, mood, performance, and behavior. Different types of brain breaks will work best for different kids, depending on their needs. 

Kids can implement a variety of brain breaks at home or school. Brain breaks can include movement, puzzles, games, and breathing exercises. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

1. Take a Lap

A quick stroll around the block can provide a great structured break in between daily tasks. Fresh air and movement are helpful for breaking up the day. Take a quick 10-minute walk outside to release energy and feel refreshed before getting back to work or school tasks.

2. Hopscotch 

Hopscotch is a great brain break for kids because it allows them to move around and practice balance. Drawing a quick hopscotch board on the sidewalk can be a fun exercise for younger students who are learning their numbers as well. Students can replace the numbers with other information they are learning, like vocabulary words or numbers in a different language. 

kid playing hopscotch
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

3. The Floor is Lava

This is a great brain break if you’re looking for a quick activity during rainy days at home or in the classroom. Set up “islands” in an open area with butcher paper, pillows, and any other items you have available. Set a timer for ten minutes and let the kids jump around and balance as they avoid the lava!

4. Hide and Seek with a Twist

Hide and seek is a fun way for kids to utilize creativity and practice stillness. For this variation, have the children hide and set a timer for 1 minute. If they haven’t been found after 1 minute, the seeker closes their eyes again and counts to 20 while the kids run to find a different hiding spot. This game can be played for multiple rounds and gives students a nice variation of stillness and movement. 

5. Red Light, Green Light 

This brain break is an awesome exercise because it allows for a bit of cardio but also emphasizes balance and reflexes. Have the kids line up on one end of the lawn or gymnasium while the leader stands on the other side. The leader turns their back and calls out green for players to run and red for players to freeze. The first player to the finish line wins!

6.  Scavenger Hunt Show and Tell

Set a timer for 5 minutes and have the kids search for something they find interesting. The scavenger hunt arena can include a park, school grounds, or even your living room. Once time is up, have the kids sit around and share their findings with one another, show-and-tell style. 

kids making paper airplanes as a brain break
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

7. Paper Air Plane Contest

All you need is a few pieces of paper and a bit of creativity. Set a timer and allow everyone a few minutes to perfect their airplane design. When everyone is ready, take the paper airplanes to an open area and see whose plane can fly the furthest!

8. Sun Salutations

Have your students do 3 sun salutations as a group. Depending on the age group, this exercise can be simplified or enhanced to fit the students’ needs. There are plenty of short videos on YouTube that can guide you as a group. Bonus points if you can do your salutations outside under the sun!

9. Dance til’ You Freeze

Play some music and let the students dance around!  When the music stops, everyone must freeze in whatever position they’re in. Freezing mid-dance often results in silly poses and is sure to get everyone laughing. When the music restarts, everyone can continue dancing. 

10. Simon Says: Balance Challenge

This variation of Simon Says is meant to engage balance. Simply instruct the students to balance on either foot while “Simon Says” to tap your head, clap, turn around, etc. To add a bit of challenge, increase the hold for each pose. 

11. Act out Silly Scenarios

What would a bear pouring a cup of coffee look like? Have the kids act out their interpretation of animals doing silly things.

How would a duck fold the laundry?

The more outrageous, the better. This is a great way to get everyone moving and laughing!

12. Boat Building Contest

Give everyone one sheet of aluminum foil and set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Have students build the strongest boat they can using only the tin foil. When time is up, fill up a sink or take the boats to a puddle, pond, bird bath, or any body of water. Hold a competition to see whose boat can hold the most pennies while remaining afloat. 

13.  Count with Tallies 

All you need is a pen, paper, and something to count. Take a seat by a window or outside and count how many cars, birds, planes, or people you see in a 10-minute window. Have students use their pen and paper to record their sightings. This is a great way for kids to practice counting and engage with their environment. 

boys coloring outside
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

14. Write a Story Together

This activity can be done with a small or large group of kids. Have the first student start the story with one sentence. Then, the next person will add to the story with one more sentence, and so on and so forth. Making up stories with others is an amazing way to foster collaborative skills and creativity. Plus, the stories are incredibly entertaining!

15. Draw a Creature Together

Similar to number 15 on this list, this activity allows students to collaborate and create something together. Fold a piece of paper into four parts and label each section with head, shoulders, stomach, and feet. Have each student take a turn drawing in a section of the creature’s body. Kids love this game, and the results are fun to see! 

16. Find the Colors of the Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

Challenge students to find one item from every color of the rainbow. This can be done indoors and outdoors and is a super fun twist on traditional scavenger hunts. Have everyone bring back items to share. Whoever can find items from all colors wins!

17. Balancing Challenge

See who can stand on one leg for the longest. You can up the ante by having students switch from one leg to the other or close their eyes. Set a timer and see how long everyone can balance. Breathwork can also be incorporated into this exercise for added benefits. 

kids balancing
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

18. Gratitude Practice

Sit down as a group and ask students to share three things they are grateful for and why. Sharing gratitude can be a great conversation guide, and it’s an excellent way for everyone to recenter after long periods of focus. 

19. Solve a Few Riddles 

There are tons of free riddles available online for all ages. Find a few riddles and have the students work together to solve them. This exercise is great for creativity and problem-solving and can be a nice way to practice collaboration. 

20. Sit in Stillness

One of the simplest brain breaks on this list, sitting in stillness, can be very effective in regulating the nervous system and recentering focus. Play some relaxing music and set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Have students focus on their breath and being in the moment. 

21. Guided Drawing 

Gather a few art supplies and have the students work through a guided drawing exercise. Ask them to draw their favorite animal, food, or hobby. Allow the students a bit of time afterward to share their drawings with each other. 

22. Play a Game of Telephone

This classic game is a fun brain break that allows students to practice listening skills and get a bit silly. Have the students line up. Beginning at one end of the line, the first student will whisper a sentence to the next student, and so on and so forth until the sentence has reached the last student. This game works best in bigger groups because the longer the line, the crazier the final translation will be!

23. Color in a Coloring Book

There are so many different coloring books available for students of all ages. Plenty of coloring activities can also be printed online. Allow students 10-15 minutes of quiet time to focus on a coloring project. Coloring can be a very meditative and soothing practice and is a great way to take a brain break during the day. 

24. Jumping Jack Competition

See who can complete the most jumping jacks in 2 minutes! This quick brain break is an awesome way for students to get their blood pumping and release any pent-up energy. Another variation of this activity is to take away the timer and see who can do jumping jacks for the longest without stopping. 

25. Categories Catch

Have students toss a ball back to one another while naming items from a category. You can name countries, animals, prime numbers, or songs by your favorite artist. This game has endless possibilities for variations. 

26. Rhyming Train

This rhyming game can be played between two kids or with a bigger group of students. The first person begins the game by naming any word. The next person gives a word that rhymes with the first word, and so on and so forth. This brain break allows kids to practice quick thinking and creativity. 

27. Tik Tac Toe

This simple but classic game can be played on the go with a mobile app, in the classroom with a pen and paper, or outside with chalk. Make a three-by-three grid and take turns adding X’s and O’s. The first person to make three in a row wins. 

28. Plant Identification

This brain break is a fun variation of a scavenger hunt and is perfect for students who are interested in science or the outdoors. Give everyone a few minutes outside to choose a plant and take a photo of it. The kids can then research the plant using web searches and books to identify the plant they’ve found. 

girl painting a sun
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

29. Nature Sketching 

Much like brain break #28, this activity is great for kids who love the outdoors and are interested in nature. Give everyone a sketchpad and a pencil, and have them go outside and draw a plant or animal of their choosing. The students can share their art afterward as well!

30. Word Building 

Offer a set of 5-6 letters and have the students generate as many words as they can using those letters. This exercise is super versatile for all age groups and can be done as a group or as a solo activity. The New York Times also offers a mobile version of this game for word building on the go. 

31. Jigsaw Puzzle 

Spending a few moments working on a puzzle is a great option for a brain break for students. You can keep a puzzle in progress and set timers periodically throughout the day to have the students work on it. There are also plenty of options for virtual jigsaw puzzles, which can be very convenient if you don’t have a physical puzzle available. 

32. Reading Break

Allocating time for students to read briefly is an awesome way to offer them a brain break. The key to this is having the students select a book that they’re excited to read. For a nice midday brain break, have the students read one chapter from a book of their choosing or simply offer 15 minutes of free reading time. 

Did you try any of these brain breaks? Let us know in the comments which one was your favorite!

Author

  • Rachel Froelich

    Rachel is a writer with 6 years of experience. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a dual major in Philosophy from Montana State University. In addition to writing, Rachel has worked as a caregiver for individuals with autism. In her free time, Rachel enjoys climbing, reading, and hiking with her dog.

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