Refocus Wandering Minds: Recharging energy and learning with brain breaks

By: Leigh Ann Pernell

One of the most essential characteristics of an effective teacher is enthusiasm. From the Greek enthousiasmos, the word ‘enthusiasm’ means “divine inspiration.” Inspired educators are catalysts for learning, but even the most enthusiastic of teachers have been faced with the following scenario: You have planned a quality lesson and are ready to delve into the curriculum. You look at the students, and all you see is a bunch of fidgety and unfocused learners ready for recess. So, what do you do? Take a brain break!

A brain break is a short pastime that mixes up the predictable routine of the day by incorporating interactive activities to engage the brain. These quick, creative endeavors allow the body to move and the mind to inspire, while providing a new lens through which to learn. An energetic and positive learning environment encourages students to actively engage with one another—resulting in renewed focus. Let’s energize students’ bodies and recharge their minds with a few of these rejuvenating brain break ideas:

Minute for Movement – Play music and allow students to move quietly in place. When the music stops – their bodies stop.

Breathe – Have students stop what they are doing, stand up, and take deep cleansing breaths. Inhale deeply, raising the hands overhead. Next, exhale slowly – releasing the hands behind the back – bending at the waist – dropping the head down to the knees. Round the back and slowly roll up focusing on each notch of the spine. Relax and repeat.

Jog It – Have students stand up and check their heart rates by placing their hands on their chests. Next, jog in place silently for one minute. Check heart rates. Jog for two minutes. Check the heart rates again. Go for three minutes and check.

Mirror Mirror – Partner students. One student in each pair will move his body, and the partner will be the mirror image. After thirty seconds have the students switch jobs.

Fitness Reboot – Have students stand up and do as many jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, or squats as they can in one minute. Encourage kids to try to beat their personal best over time.

Shoot Out – Let students use both their bodies and brains in a math shoot-out. Partner students. Count 1-2-3- shoot! Each partner shows a number between 1 and 10 with his fingers. The first student to shout out the sum of their team’s fingers wins. (Example: One student shows 7 fingers, and the other shows 8 fingers. The sum is 15.)

Invisible Drawings – Partner students. One student draws an invisible picture in the air. The other student’s goal is to guess what his partner drew.

At Carson-Dellosa, we are ready to help!

We know you are tasked with delivering detailed curriculum, addressing complicated standards, and completing numerous assessments. Students need to be focused and ready to accomplish the assigned learning objectives. As educational thought leaders, Carson-Dellosa has designed some quality brain break activities that will help refocus attention and positively impact student learning. These activities allow you to use teachable moments to engage your students and bring them back to the task at hand—refreshed and ready to go.

Brain Breaks: Curriculum Cut-Outs - These durable cut-outs are simple to use and are an ideal product to enhance student learning. Perfect for refocusing, Brain Breaks are great for transitions are and a wonderful way to quickly incorporate movement throughout the learning day. Each pack is complete with 36 colorful Brain Break cards that support the curriculum and offer a variety of uses. This versatile resource is great for early finishers, providing quality hands-on activities to support learning centers, and for sending home to support the diverse needs of individual learners. You can check out all four sets here:

Front of the Class Puzzles and Games offers a variety of engaging and exciting tools as well. These quality activity books are filled with game-based learning activities that entertain as well as educate. Students have fun and recharge as they work on games and puzzles that encourage concentration and critical thinking skills. Each activity focuses on a problem-solving task while strengthening reading, writing, math, and communication skills.

Brain breaks are time well spent. Moving the body activates the brain and is vital for quality learning outcomes. Stretch, dance, sing, tell stories, problem-solve, play a quick game, provide a minute of movement, and then get back to business. These short bursts of energy refocus the mind, reset the body, and get students engaged and ready for the next part of their learning day. Take the time to kick the stress out of the classroom and refocus the learning.