As we all know, kids’ minds wander! Shift your students from distraction to action by adding active “brain breaks” during the school day.
After a brief activity break, you’ll find kids return to their work energized, focused, and ready to learn.
Physical activity breaks, in particular, increase blood flow to the brain, which leads to sharper and healthier minds.
So whether you’re a homeschooler, a classroom teacher, or a parent overseeing kids doing homework, periodically getting your kids up and moving will do their brains good!
Here are 10 brain break ideas your children will love. Use this list as a starting point, and feel free to adapt to suit your group’s particular needs. In pandemic hot spots, for example, you may want to skip or adapt activities that involve closer contact or shared objects.
Or, if it’s just you and your child at home, use these ideas as a starting point to invent your own active games to play as a pair!
1) Categories ball throw
Have your students form a circle and toss around a ball, hacky sack, or bean bag—you could even use a rolled-up paper ball. Choose a category such as animals, colours, or things you find outside. One child starts by throwing the ball to a classmate, who then has five to 10 seconds to name something from that category. If they can’t think of anything to say, the turn passes another player. Warning: laughter might be contagious.
2) Simon Says
An oldie but a goodie. With either the teacher or a student acting as “Simon,” lead the students in the game by calling out instructions such as hopping on one leg, balancing on one foot, or dancing with arms in the air.
If the instruction begins with the words, “Simon Says,” and the students follow the direction, the game continues to the next move. If the leader calls out a move such as “moo like a cow”—without first saying “Simon Says”—anyone who does the action is eliminated from the game.
Related read: 10 ways to get kids active at your school
3) High fives
For a quick burst of chaotic stress relief, instruct your students to move about the room and high five as many of their classmates as they can in two minutes. If it’s just you and one child, set a timer and see how many “fives” you can do with each other, or how many silly ways you can come up with to high-five or fist-bump.
4) Animal walks
Using a clear space in the classroom, have kids take turns calling out the names of animals. All students must then move like that animal until a signal is used (such as a whistle) to change to a different animal. Kids will love waddling like penguins, galloping like horses, or crawling like bears.
5) Keep Up
Divide your class into groups of four or five and have them play “keep up” with balloons. Make sure to leave lots of room between groups to avoid airspace violation issues!
6) Conga line
Bring out those wedding reception vibes and have your students dance the conga around the classroom. Find the classic conga music, or play any song that will keep the kids moving. Line the kids up, have them place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them, and let the party begin as they snake around the room.
7) Activity dice
Roll out the fun with activity dice. Download our free printable activity dice with actions on each of the six sides. Or make your own dice and come up with your own moves: run in place, take three giant steps to the left, flap your arms like a butterfly, or jump up to reach for the sky!
Related read: How to become an active homeschool family
8) Crazy dance moves
Let the creativity flow with some non-structured movement. Put on some high-energy music and give your students permission to dance in the most fun way they can imagine. Just a few minutes of dancing and laughing will get the juices flowing!
Have the kids spread out across the room, play some fun, fast-paced music, and watch the kids dance and be just plain silly, moving around the space. When you turn the music off, all kids must freeze in whatever position they’re in. Can you see any movement? Turn the music back on and continue the game.
10) Mirror game
Divide students up into groups of two and choose one in each group to be the leader. The leader acts out a motion such as brushing their teeth, waving their arms in the air, or bowing. The partner must imitate the leader’s actions as if they’re looking into a mirror. After five or six actions, the leader then becomes the mirror, and the mirror becomes the leader.
Besides being fun, you’ll find that these active brain breaks will leave children re-energized, refocused, and ready to take on whatever their next task may be.