So, the blog has been updated and I am super excited!!! I have been looking forward to this for 3 months when I signed up with Laine from A Peace of Africa to update my Blog and Logo, but what to write? There have been so many ideas flooding my brain and then it hit me! I should talk about Brain Breaks!!!!
If you haven’t heard of Brain Breaks they are short mental breaks (which include physical activity), normally less than 5 minutes, used to refocus and wake up your students.
We all know that our students are having to sit still longer than ever in class due to reduction in P.E. class, recess, and the increase in testing. This is taking a toll on our students and us as teachers! Though we might cherish the hour-long uninterrupted time we have to actually teach, it may be too long for our students to sit still and focus.
Think about an hour-long faculty meeting. Did you just shudder in dread? I know I did! I imagine this is how some of our students feel when we ask them to sit still and retain everything being taught in that hour.
I personally had about a 30 minute attention span (on a good day) in Faculty Meetings, so I would try to incorporate a Brain Break every 30 minutes of continuous sitting in my classroom. If we were doing centers or working on projects we did not do Brain Breaks, but if I was teaching Whole Group or we were testing I definitely tried to include them.
Take a look at these two brain scans. The first shows the brain of a student who has been sitting quietly taking a test, it does not specify how long. The second scan show the student’s brain after a 20 minute walk. LOOK at that activity! Now I am not saying that you should take your students on 20 minute walks every 30 minutes, but a few minutes here and there would actually decrease interruptions and increase retention.
So, now that you know what a Brain Break is and its amazing benefits here are a few examples of Brain Breaks to use in the classroom.
1) Dance Break: Put on some music, turn off the lights, and DANCE! “What Does the Fox Say?” is always a favorite. You can also use Movement Songs, such as, “Cha-Cha Slide”, “Shake Your Sillies Out”, and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes”. Here are some links to Brain Break Music Videos:
2) Mingle: This game allows students to do the one thing they always want to do… talk! Set the timer for 1 minute and let the students mingle with a partner. When the timer goes off everyone has to find a new partner to “Mingle” with, and so on, for as many times as you think is necessary.
3) Yoga: Pick a few basic poses to do with your class. As they progress you can add a few more difficult poses for fun. Here are some to start with:
- Child’s Pose
- Cat Pose
- Downward Dog
- Tree Pose
4) Simon Says: Bring back an oldie, but a goody with this Brain Break! You can be Simon or switch it up and let one of the students. I have noticed that my students are not quite sure how to play “Simon Says” so you may need a refresher course for the kids.
There are so many more creative activities for Brain Breaks, too many for me to list, but if you have a an idea you would like to share be sure to leave it in the comments below!