There’s a lot to fit into every day, and it can be easy to feel like you need to cram every single moment with instruction, practice, review, assessment…that approach can backfire though. Studies show that students benefit from brain breaks throughout the day.
How brain breaks help
Brain breaks offer these plusses for students as individuals and for your classroom community:
- re-energize students and get them refocused
- help them develop social skills
- boost their activity.
The good news is that brain breaks don’t have to take long to have a benefit! Brain breaks get kids moving. It could be standing up to stretch or have a dance party between activities. It could be a game of Simon Says after morning meeting before your first desk task.
Re-energize students and get them refocused
Students learn better when they have breaks because their brain gets a chance to reset. Some people say it’s the oxygen flowing to the brain when students move, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a lot going on in the brain and too much of one activity can lead to stress or overload. You end overload and help students be more receptive to new learning when you use brain breaks. If you notice students are starting to act out or lose focus, it might be time for a brain break. Ideally, you use brain breaks before kids have lost focus, but you can implement them any time you realize your class needs to refocus or re-energize.
Help students develop social skills
Brain breaks involve the whole class. Many take the form of games or get kids interacting in some way—working together to keep a ball off the floor, forming groups of a certain size upon your signal, lining up in alphabetical order or by height. Activities like this make kids work together. That means you’re helping develop social skills at the same time you are getting kids ready for more learning.
Boost student activity
Kids need to move, but we have them sitting all day. Most kids (us grown-ups too) don’t get enough physical activity in the day. The amount of activity you get during brain boosts isn’t going to qualify as enough activity for the day, but it works more movement in. Sometimes it will be simple, like walking like a penguin to your next workstation. Other times it will be more vigorous, like playing freeze dance (everyone dances until you stop the music, then they freeze—repeat a few times) or a 5-4-3-2-1 sequence (such as 5 jumping jacks, 4 bunny hops, 3 bows to your neighbor, 2 circuits of walking the room, 1 giant cheer when you are done).
How to make brain breaks easy
There’s no doubt that brain breaks make a difference. I’ve seen the effect on my own students, and use them regularly. I’ve put together directions for 11 of my favorite games you can use as brain breaks in your classroom.
In addition to instructions, you get a list of any necessary equipment and the level it is appropriate for. And because your teaching time is precious and people don’t always see the benefit of games, you also get links to the social skills taught by each game. Using brain breaks is a no brainer, and using the class games pack is too. Get your Class Games Pack for brain breaks here.