Everybody needs a break from time to time. And that includes your students. Here are some easy ideas for brain breaks that work for classroom and distance learning.
What are Brain Breaks?
Break breaks are short mental breaks that help students stay focused. Typically, brain breaks help students move or engage in discussions to help them re-energize and refocus.
Why are Brain Breaks Important?
Research shows that regular breaks throughout the school day increase student productivity. Incorporating regular brain breaks into your plans can help students learn the importance of balance and promote long term mental health. Brain breaks also provide students a chance to be creative. Many brain breaks allow students to practice and develop social skills as well.
Distance learning can be hard on students. These students learn in an isolated environment and are expected to focus on a screen for long periods. It can be challenging for even older students to maintain such high focus for long periods of time. Brain breaks are perfect for distance learning because they allow the brain to move away from learning, memorizing, and problem solving, so students can break up their periods of high focus. Brain breaks also gives students a chance to engage with some of their classmates.
Regular brain breaks can work for both in-person and distance learning. They really can help students stay active, happy, and focused.
Brain Breaks Ideas for Classroom & Distance Learning
1. Sing & Dance on YouTube
I LOVE using YouTube. There are so many great videos that can help support curriculum. And brain breaks are no different. Channels like Jack Hartman, Go Noodle, Kids Bop, and Koo Koo Kanga-Roo have tons of engaging and age appropriate material. Singing and dancing gets students up and moving, so they get a bit of exercise in the process! These are perfect for distance learning because you can put the YouTube video up using your conference software.
2. Collaborative Picture
To complete a collaborative picture, start with a single line. Then have each student draw another line or shape one at a time. Collaborative pictures can be really fun. You can do them in person using paper, but you can also use the drawing tools on Google Slides if you are doing distance learning.
3. Brain Dump
A brain dump is when students see a picture then quickly write what comes to their minds first. Students then share and explain their answers. If you are distance learning, you can show the picture on their screens or you can share it on a Google Slide and let students write right on the slide.
4. Show & Tell
Show and tell works great for distance learning as long as students are able to share their screens/cameras. This can be a teacher friendly exercise because you can break up the students so they present at different times throughout the day or week. Show and tell also adds a social aspect and helps build a sense of community when you are distance learning.
5. Virtual Band
This may sound silly, but kids love music. Simply playing a song and letting them “jam out” on air instruments can be really fun.
6. Simon Says
Another easy go to is Simon Says. This game is perfect for distance learning because you can pull it out whenever you feel students need a quick break. You dont need to “officially” start – just simply throw out a “simon says” and students will know you started the brain break. You can say “that was fun, now let’s move on” at any time and get right back into your lessons.
7. Yoga Pose
Yoga is great for many reasons, and it’s perfect for brain breaks. If you are distance learning, you can share a different pose for each brain break and let students give them a try for a minute or two. I always liked dinosaur yoga poses because they add a little additional fun.
8. Virtual Sports
Playing virtual sports can get kids up and moving without taking too much time. Try activities like shooting layups or soccer goals, or doing a cheer. You can let kids choose then let one or two share about which sport/activity they completed.
Creating Brain Breaks for Distance Learning
Brain breaks are an easy way to incorporate a bit of mental health into your daily routine, but I know this year has been difficult for teachers for many reasons. So, I created a free Google Slides resource to get you started.
Give Brain Breaks a Try!
With just a few minutes, a brain break can have huge impacts on helping the whole student. Give them a shot!