What are Brain Breaks for Kids?
Brain Breaks for kids is the simple technique in which young students are given a short mental break taken at regular intervals. They are usually performed in a classroom or academic environment, but can also be used in similar non-traditional learning environments for largely the same effect. Most brain breaks range from around 5 to 20 minutes as a general rule, although most people prefer to keep them short and on point. For maximum success, it’s usually best to include a physical activity that will compliment mental energy.
The Benefits of Brain Breaks for Kids
Benefits of using brain breaks include helping kids to be calmer, remain focused while also stimulating physical activity. As we all know, kids have a ton of expendable energy and it can often present itself at inopportune times. If you are in charge of a group of kids and find they are being especially unruly, a brain break might be beneficial for you to regain control while also re-focusing the kids minds and sense of clarity.
After a successful brain break, your kids should feel more focused, less prone to daydreaming and therefore in a better mental space to work or complete and finish activities. Furthermore, brain breaks have also shown to significantly reduce stress levels in kids, providing organic improvements to learning and higher engagement levels. When implemented at the right time and used appropriately, it’s clear brain breaks are a valuable and beneficial tool. You will know your groups of kids better than anyone, and it is up to you to choose when the best time is to use brain breaks and what exactly is the desired outcome you wish to achieve.
Brain Breaks Games and Activities List for Kids
We’re going to list some of the most effective and fun brain breaks you can easily replicate yourself. Whether you are responsible for kids in an academic environment, or elsewhere such as home education or after school clubs, these are sure to help you and your kids unlock the maximum potential out of your activity and day.
Rub your Head, Pat your Belly!
An oldie but a goodie, have you ever tried rubbing your head and patting your belly before? Oddly this is something our brains find difficult to perform at times, usually leading to our hands replicating the same movements. Challenge your kids to concentrate and try out this technique. They will find it amusingly difficult at first, but over time and concentration will eventually be able to pull it off without too much trouble. This is a very quick and easy brain break that is sure to cause a lot of smiles and laughter as well as the eventual desire of increased concentration.
There’s not many issues in life that can’t be solved by a good old fashioned dance off. Choose an age appropriate song to play for your kids, get them up and dancing as wildly and enthusiastically as they can to the song. Without warning, hit stop and pause the music. Everybody must freeze! Anybody caught moving or laughing is out and must sit down for the remainder of the game. Keep playing until you’ve got one player left dancing. This is a great brain break for physical activity and a brilliant way to re-focus.
Take a Hike!
Well, not exactly literally! But assembling your kids in a line and getting them to take a 5 minute walk around the general area, classroom, or somewhere outside is a fantastic way to stop wandering minds from heading off a metaphorical cliff. The kids will feel energized and re-engaged, ready to finish whatever it was they were suppose to be doing before you initiated the break. This is perhaps the most simple brain break of them all!
In this simple but very fun game, kids are encouraged to partake in five different physical activities in descending order. For example, you could get them to do 5 jumping jacks, 4 star jumps, three sit ups, two hops and one hand clap. Mix it up and think lots of different activities you can do. Encourage activities that can be performed collaboratively as well to further add to the benefits of this brain break.
Find it Fast!
Look around the room and identify some key distinguishers of different objects. They can be colors, materials or anything distinct. Once you’ve got a good idea of what’s available in the vicinity, start shouting out different ones. For example, “red handle”. Your kids must rush towards the object that fits the description as quickly as possible. The last person to get there is eliminated. Repeat until you have a winner!
Aimed at kids towards the younger end of the spectrum, Animal Pretend is nevertheless likely to make you as laugh as much as the kids! Call out a list of animals in sequence. The kids must pretend to be the last animal you called out. Make sure to mix it up and keep it interesting. Reward and encourage kids for being more lively and putting more effort in.
You’ll need some extra equipment for this one but it’s worth it for how fun and engaging it can be. Split your kids up into pairs and hand them a pot of Play-Doh. Challenge them to take it turns to create an animal. The aim of the game is their partner has to be able to guess what animal it is they’ve made. Prepare for many laughs and sometimes even some amazing Play-Doh masterpieces!
True or False
You can adapt this one to different age groups but it’ll probably work better with more engaged older kids, although not too old! Get everyone to stand up and face you towards the front. You must call out a series of true or false statements. The kids must react by placing their hands on their heads if they think what you’ve just said is true, or hands on their hips if what you’ve just said is false. Whoever gets it wrong must sit down straight away. Keep going until you can eventually crown a winner. You can tie this into more academic questions if you want to keep it educational, or alternatively you can have fun and factor in some fun pop culture. It really is up to you.
Test your kids attentiveness and refocus their attention spans with this awesome brain break Line Up! The key to the game is to get your group of kids to line up in an order they have just been given. For example, you could get them to line up in descending order in terms of their height. Keep changing it up and see how quickly they can arrange themselves and whether they can do it correctly. Other good criteria include hair length, age, alphabetical via middle names and anything else you can think to add.
Keep it Up
Simple but incredibly fun, Keep it Up requires you have in your possession a beach ball. All you have to do is get the kids to throw the beach ball around the room without it hitting the floor. It sounds overly simplistic but this is an excellent game for controlling and maintaining concentration levels, as well as hand-eye coordination. It’s also so easy and accessible that any kid can get involved.
Not the 1983 classic film with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, but we promise you it’s just as fun and entertaining! Get your kids to stand up and take a position behind their chair. Call-out a specific trait. Everyone who shares that trait in common must swap places. For example, everyone with curly hair must trade places! Or, everyone who rides a bicycle must trade places! If they do not have that trait, they must remain where they are. Try and mix it up and come up with lots of different and fun traits. It’s a great way for you to get to know your kids a bit better. It’s also a great way for kids to find shared common interests.
Exercise Lucky Dip
Write up a bunch of exercises beforehand on different pieces of paper and put them into a bucket. Make sure they are accessible and not too difficult for your kids to perform. Mix up the bucket and put it on a table. Nominate your kids one by one to come out and do a lucky dip. Whatever exercise they pull out of the bucket they must perform straight away. Keep it simple to things such as jumping jacks, hopping, maybe a sit up at most. This is a very quick and efficient way to energize creaky bones and lighten up any slowly fading attention spans.
Keep it Clean
Make space if there isn’t already and formulate a line down the middle of the area you are in. You could do this with easy to remove tape or just a row of chairs. Split your group of kids into two different teams and position them on each side of the line. Give them equipment to throw on to each others side of the room. It goes without saying, but nothing too big or dangerous! The aim of the game for the kids is to keep their side of the room tidy by throwing stuff to the other groups side. Once you’ve called time, whoever has the cleanest side of the room wins!
As you can see, brain breaks for kids can take a variety of different shapes and forms depending on your aims and objectives. You can take any of these ideas and re-adapt them for your own unique situations and scenarios, making changes to have them be more accommodating or perhaps even slightly more challenging. Over time you’ll discover that your kids prefer some brain break activities to others. They will have favorites and you will too! Make sure to keep them varied and tailored to a specific outcome. If you are trying to get your kids to perk up it’s advisable you use a more physical brain break, or at the very least something that gets them moving and out of a sitting position. If the idea is to regain a sense of control, it makes more sense to use a brain break that forces them to concentrate but also keeps them quiet. It really is up to you and how you want to make it work best for both you and your kids.