Try these fun brain break ideas to help active kids stay focused and learn at their best. Brain break activities are great for incorporating movement into your day in and out of the elementary classroom and promoting calmness.
Brain Break Ideas for Active Kids In and Out of the Classroom
Activity brain breaks serve an important purpose in and out of the classroom. School is hard work for younger kids. We expect them to cram a lot into each day, learning a ton of information they need to retain and put into practice. It can be exhausting and can lead to negative behaviors. Brain breaks allow kids to take a minute to refocus and release some energy.
Homelife needs active time too. Kids should have opportunities to be kids through active play, movement, and games throughout the day and on weekends.
Moving around, even if it’s just stretching, boosts the body by increasing blood flow. In turn, this gives the brain more oxygen and increased blood flow, giving kids the edge they need to help retain information and stay focused. By taking a break and moving around, kids receive the necessary tools to succeed in and out of the classroom.
To get started, plan when you will incorporate brain break activities into your school day schedule, set a timer, and have some fun! The ideas below will get you started.
Educational Brain Break Ideas
Brain breaks should be breaks from whatever the class is currently working on. But just because it’s a break doesn’t mean it can’t be educational! These educational brain breaks increase sensory processing, allowing kids to move around and have fun with their classmates. From spelling words to skip counting, these academic brain break ideas will quickly become favorites for the classroom and beyond.
- Air Spelling – Challenge kids to “air write” their spelling or sight words with a partner. Their partner will need to guess which word they’re writing!
- Categories – Name a category, and each kid has to name a word that fits in that category. For example, if the category is “beach,” they could say words like sand, ocean, umbrella, etc.
- Pop – To practice skip counting during a brain break, have kids line up for a game of Pop! Pick a magic number, then have each child takes a turn counting, with the word POP replacing multiples of the magic number. If skip counting by 3s, the line would count 1-2-POP-4-5-POP.
- Sparkle – When waiting in line to go to lunch or specials, play a game of Sparkle. Kids will need to spell a sight word or spelling word one letter at a time. After the last letter, the next person in line shouts, “Sparkle!”
- Syllable Clap – Kids love chatting with their friends, so direct that energy to something educational. Have kids turn and talk to a friend, but while chatting, they need to clap (or stomp) the syllables of the words they say. They can also do this brain break activity with spelling words.
Fun Brain Breaks & Games
Kids love playing games, and games give kids a chance to take a moment and have fun. Even though it may seem like these games don’t have a purpose, they genuinely do. Their goal is to get kids moving and having fun! Whether it’s a game of Telephone or Rock-Paper-Scissors, games will give kids freedom as they play with partners or as a whole group.
- Freeze Dance – This game is like freeze tag and musical chairs rolled into a fun game! Turn on the music and have kids dance around the room. When you turn the music off, kids must freeze in whatever dance move they are doing. Anyone who moves in the silence is out. Continue playing until there is a winner.
- Hot Potato – Use a beanbag or balloon and have kids toss it around the room as the music plays. When the music stops, whoever is left holding the “potato” is out!
- Rock-Paper-Scissors – Depending on how long the brain break is, kids can play a game or two of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Kids can partner up for a few quick rounds if there’s only a short amount of time. If there’s more time, get the class involved in a tournament!
- Simon Says – This classic game makes a great brain break! Kids must pay attention as they attempt to do what Simon says.
- Telephone – Have the class stand up and create a circle. Whisper a phrase into the ear of the first child. Then, have that child repeat the phrase to whoever is next to them. This continues around the circle. The last child will repeat the phrase out loud. Kids will laugh as they see how the message was changed.
- Would You Rather – Designate two sides of the classroom as the answer spaces, such as by the teacher’s desk is option one and by the whiteboard is option two. Then, call out different “Would you rather…” options for kids to choose from! You can also draw names and have kids call out their options.
Movement Brain Breaks
Movement is vital when it comes to brain breaks. Moving the body and physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety, improves gross motor development, and helps kids self-regulate. Movement, in turn, will give kids a release that allows them to get back to work and refocus. These brain break ideas use movement to engage kids. From secret handshakes to dance parties, kids will love participating in these activities.
- Activity Cards – Any time a brain break is needed, pull out a brain break activity card, and complete the task! This gives kids various ways to move as they transition to another activity.
- Dance Party – When brains need breaks, nothing beats turning on a song and having a dance party. Have kids choose which song to play and let them move around and dance for the entire song. This carefree brain break activity will be a classroom favorite.
- Go Noodle – This website gives kids a fun and silly way to work out the wiggles! Kids will love jumping, moving, doing jumping jacks, and singing along to their favorite Go Noodle videos. You can stream the videos on Youtube or on your SmartTV.
- Secret Handshakes – Make up a secret class handshake or have kids partner up and make small group secret handshakes. For the rest of the week, when the class needs a moment to break, have them turn to a partner and do their secret handshake!
- Yoga – Classroom yoga will give kids the break they need in between tasks. Encourage kids to be mindful while exploring their favorite yoga poses in groups. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a favorite Youtube channel with tons of themed yoga videos kids will enjoy!
These brain break ideas for kids are perfect for the classroom when they need a mental break from schoolwork. Kids will move and dance around as they prepare for the next activity. By using these favorite brain breaks, kids will increase their attention spans, focus better, stay engaged while learning, and have fun!
Brain Break Resources
Try our FREE Brain Breaks
Grab a free sample of 12 brain break cards to try. Reward kids with these fun, quick, and effective fun activities that increase engagement, relaxation, and creativity with short exercises you can use any time of day.
Click the image below to sign up for a copy.
Break Break Resource
Kids love brain breaks! This brain break resource includes 80 brain break activity cards plus two sets of games you can play when kids need a break.
The brain break cards offer fun, simple ideas ready for you on printable cards! Just print a set, attach them to a ring, or hang ready for when your class needs a break.
See the brain break cards in store here!
Find all your classroom management essentials with the Class Management bundle. It includes eight engaging resources that kids will love!
Make Time for an Active Morning Meeting
Begin a daily morning meeting or build upon your own with this 100% editable and low-prep morning meeting resource that targets important social-emotional learning topics.
Our SEL morning meeting resources include everything you need to engage and connect with kids and make a HUGE impact in only 15 minutes a day! You will have everything you need for a daily morning meeting all school year long!
The mind+heart Morning Meeting BUNDLE gives you an entire YEAR’S WORTH of SEL slides for every day and every month of the school year, plus bonus resources to make implementation seamless.
See this resource in action and everything it includes HERE!
More Ideas for Classroom Management
FREE Classroom Management Email Series
Sign up for the classroom management email course filled with positive, actionable strategies and tried and true advice, plus tools and free resources you can access right away. Everything you need to rock your classroom management this year!
Hi, these are SO great! Are all of these breaks included in the TPT brain break cards?
Proud to be Primary
Hi Jessica! Please check out the preview on TpT and read the description there to see what’s included!