Thursday, February 11, 2016

Brain Breaks and Why Every Classroom Should Have Them: Includes 10 Brain Breaks to Use in Your Classroom

Brain breaks are important to keep the class stimulated, focused, motivated, and ready to learn. I use brain breaks in my classroom to help keep the class going when I can tell I’m about to lose them. The class loves the novelty of the breaks because although we do use the same brain breaks multiple times I do add new ones in every so often. I also find having a 5 minute brain break between transitions can make the flow from one subject to another easier for some students. A brain break, or a quick review game, which I will talk about in future blog post are a great way to kill 10 minutes if you have time to spare at the end of the day.

What is a brain break? 
A brain break is a quick 2-5 minute break where the class gets out of their seats and moves around. 

Setting the expectations:
Before you can do brain breaks in your classroom you do need to explain to the class why brain breaks are important, and what kind of behaviour expectations you have during brain breaks. The brain break is meant to be fun, and it is meant to get students moving, but you do not want your class’s brain breaks to be so loud that others in the building can hear your students.

Fun brain breaks you can use in your classroom: 

Don’t drop it
This brain break can be played with cut up pieces of a styrofoam swimming noodle, or it can be played with pom poms and spoons. During this game students need to get out of their seat and walk around with either their pom poms on their spoons or their piece of styrofoam resting on the back of their hands. If their pom pom or styrofoam fall they need to sit down. Students can also try to knock other student’s styrofoam or pom poms on the floor without letting their own fall. This brain break is over when everyone is sitting on the floor. 

Zip, Zap, Zoop 
This is a fun brain break where students stand in a circle and one student has the “power”  which they need to give away immediately or they will be zonked. They can zip the power to the person to their right, or zap the power to the person to their left, or they can zoop the power to someone across the circle. If a student holds onto “the power” for too long they get zonked that means their power gets taken away and the game starts over with someone else. 

Songs with actions 
This is most fun if you have a smart board in your classroom. You can youtube your favourite ‘action songs’ and have the class do the actions along with the video. 

Student lead stretches
This is as simple as that. One student is the leader and everyone else does the stretches that the leader chooses. 

Simon Says 
This classic game is another good one where students can take turns being the leader. 

Keep the ballon or ball from dropping
Students sit on their desks and use their hands to keep a balloon or ball (or 2 balloons or balls) from touching the ground. 

Apples, oranges, bananas 
This game is similar to musical chairs. Each student needs to sit in a circle on a chair. Once you get going you need to take away one chair. Each student is then given a name: apple, orange, or banana. The person in the middle calls out a fruit name and everyone who is that fruit switches chairs. (Students can also call out “fruit bowl” which means everyone switches chairs) the student left in the middle gets to call out the next fruit. 

Murder mystery game
For this game you need a detective and a murderer. I have everyone put their heads on their desks and I choose the detective by taping on a student’s shoulder once, and the murderer gets tapped twice. When everyone opens their eyes the students begin walking around the classroom and shaking hands with one another. When the murderer shakes hands he or she is going to lightly scratch the palm of other students. If your palm gets scratched you need to count to 10 in your head and die a silent, but dramatic death. The detective then needs to guess who the murderer is within the first 5-7 deaths. 

Follow the leader
This is a fun game where one student “the guesser” must guess who the leader is. The guesser must leave the classroom while the leader is being chosen. When the guesser comes back into the classroom the leader will start doing an action and everyone else in the class is going to copy that action so that everyone is making the same movements. The guesser needs to guess who is starting the actions. 

Freeze Dance
This is a simple game where the teacher puts music on and everyone dances. Once the music stops everyone in the class freezes until the music comes back on. 

Move around the room and find a…

This is a simple brain break that you can chose to set to music but it doesn’t have to. The students move around the room until the music stops and you call out what they need to find. (ex. ‘put your finger on a triangle’) and everyone needs to put one finger on a triangle as fast as they can. Student can find shapes, colours, letters, numbers, objects, fabrics..)

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