As much as we know this to be true, students spend a good portion of their day cooped up in a desk with their brain constantly being bombarded with new, useful information and skills. We as adults get antsy and anxious when we have to sit still for a period of time – just imagine how the kids feel! With more and more time being cut out of movement activities such as physical education and a whole lot of indoor recesses in the winter times, it’s important for teachers to squeeze in some physical activity whenever they can and Brain Breaks are a great way to do that.
We’ve been doing this years but very few people have asked why it is we choose to learn being seated for minutes, sometimes hours on end. In my ECS class, we are currently exploring with Brain Breaks and I have so far learned that sitting all day can actually have some serious drawbacks for students. Students find it hard to pay attention and focus when their brains are turned off and you can see it on their faces – those blank faces mean something!
All teachers can pin-point that one students who naturally starts to fidget in order to get their body to desperately move in order to turn their brains back on. But why then do we as teachers instantly request them to get back in their desks, sit still and pay attentions – essentially getting their brains to shut off again?
Okay, so maybe we can’t exactly add more PE into our schedules or send kids out in -40 weather, but we can give students “Brain Breaks” throughout the day. Brain breaks are great because they are short, little, energizing bursts of activity that kids up and out of their desks and get the blood flowing which sends oxygen to the brain. Brain Breaks don’t need to be elaborate plans they can be as simple as a quick two minute stand up, stretch and run in the place next to your desk activity. Brain breaks can be done periodically and be scheduled right into your lesson plan! It’s really not that hard to do at all and students, regardless of their grade love them! You can do a fun little dance to a new song, a touch your nose and pat your head exercise, or even a few yoga moves they can do while standing!
Below are some great resources for you to use in your classes when you do brain breaks! These make them fun and super easy to do. Best of all they’re all free! There are hundreds of different activities you can do with you classroom if you surf the web. Find the ones you think your class will love and use those as a guide to adapt them to meet your needs, making sure to always switch it up!
Move to Learn Fitness Energizers: More than 30 fitness videos for students K-8 with routines kids can do alongside their desks.
Go Noodle Brain Breaks: Tons of free, short videos to get kids moving in the classroom, including short Zumba routines.
Teach Train Love: This teacher has compiled several lists of fun Brain Break videos from YouTube.
Action for Healthy Kids: A Pinterest page full of classroom brain break ideas, including some for middle school.