12 Free Brain Breaks for the Classroom

        As teachers, we know the benefits of giving kids movement in the classroom. It's easy to see that after even a short period of sitting, kids need to get the wiggles out so they are ready to learn again. Scientific studies support this idea and even contend that frequent brain breaks lead to higher academic achievement, increased concentration, better on-task behavior, and improved student attitudes. Sounds great, right?

        I love brain breaks so much that I wanted to share a dozen of my favorite brain breaks here. If you like them, you can find a link at the bottom of the post to a free set of 12 task cards in my TpT store.

1. Places and Spaces:
Kids pretend to tour a particular place in the world and do movements which relate to those places. For example...

We are now touring the United States! Pretend to…
Surf the beaches of California,
Stomp through the swamps of Mississippi,
Climb the stairs of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor,
Ride a horse through the deserts of New Mexico.

Variation: This game may also be played by using other places in the world with different movements.

2. Snowball Toss
This is one you'll need to prepare in advance. If you have a great parent helper, you might ask him/her to help you get this ready. One idea is to type these on the computer, and then you could print them easily each year. Here's what you do:

The teacher writes one fun/silly action on a piece of paper and crumbles it into a ball. For example, do five jumping jacks, march like a soldier to the front of the room, spin around three times… Make enough “snowballs” for the entire class (plus a few extras just in case).

Give each student a snowball. As soon as kids make eye contact with someone, they each toss the snowball and catch the other snowball. Kids walk to another person and repeat until the leader says stop. Then the leader calls on several students to open his/her snowball and do the action listed. Then kids crumble the papers and repeat.

3. Yoga Position: Warrior 2 Pose

One of the brain break activities I love to do is yoga. We don't get into the spiritual side of it but simply use it as a stretching exercise. Here's the Warrior 2 pose:
4. Statue Freeze
This one is really fun and is a variation of freeze tag, without the tagging.

The leader tells the students to move around the room in different ways (walking, hopping, skipping, tiptoeing, giant steps, baby steps…) without bumping into other people or things.
When the leader says Statue of a  _________  (Lion, Bear, Baby Bunny, King, Diva, Artist, Olympic Weightlifter…), kids freeze and pose like that person/animal. Then the leader says “Unfreeze and _______ (tell students how to move around the room).

5. Move Around the Room Like...
Kids love these and it gives them such a great opportunity for movement. It's definitely one of my favorite types of brain breaks! Here are a few examples:

You are playing an instrument in a marching band.
You are a circus clown.
You are a spy.
You are just waking up.
You are a famous rock star.

6. High Fives
Kids truly need to have expectations and procedures set up for brain breaks as well. Here's a fun activity but I make sure to have the we don't high five too hard talk before we do this one!
1. Kids walk around the room and try to gently high five every person in the classroom in one minute.
2. Call out a silly high five for kids to try (high five like a turkey, like an octopus, like a ballerina…)
3. Put kids in small groups of 4 – 6. Each group stands in a circle. The tallest person starts a high five chain (he/she high fives the next person, who high fives the next person, all around the circle until it is back to the first person. Variation: A high five and then down-low chain.

7. Yoga Position: Chair Pose

8. Animal Line Up:
This one will bring out the personalities of your students! The hardest part of this brain break is not making the noise that the animal makes. I make sure to stress that it's like charades...we can only act out the animal but can't make any sounds! Here's how to play this one:
Kids are placed in small groups of 4 – 6. Each child thinks of an animal but does not tell anyone what it is. When the leader says go, each person in the group acts out his/her animal silently. The goal is to arrange the group’s animals in order from the largest to the smallest without making a sound. Students raise their hands when done. 

9. Roller Coaster Fun
This one is really active and kids seem to enjoy it! Here's how to play:
Kids sit on the ground with space around them. As the leader tells what the roller coaster is doing, students act out the movements.

Time to put your harness on…
The roller coaster is climbing a hill (lean back)…
It starts turning and twisting (lean to the sides)…
Then it drops quickly (bend forward, raise arms in the air)…
(Repeat climbing, turning, dropping…)
The roller coaster comes to a stop (take off the harness)…
Time to exit back to your spot (walk to desk/place)

10. Hidden Treasure
This game has a person who is "it" looking for something hidden, which we call the hidden treasure! It's a lot like the game where you say you're getting hotter or you're getting colder. The main difference though, is that instead of verbally telling the person how close he/she is to the object, students use their movements to tell "it" how to find the object. Here's how it's played:

Choose one student to be “it” and to wait outside (or cover his/her eyes).
The leader hides the hidden treasure (could be any object) in the room.
The person who is “it” tries to find the object by watching the clues the class gives in the form of movements. Once “it” finds the hidden treasure, the leader chooses a new “it”.
Movements to discuss and to write on the board: (The rest of the class stands by his/her spot to do these movements)
Move forward: Swim forward in place doing the breast stroke.
Move backwards: Do two thumbs in the air going backwards.
Move to either side: March in place and Egyptian point to the right or left.
Go higher: Pretend to push up the ceiling several times.
Go lower: Do a few squats
To say he/she is one foot away from the treasure: Twist your body side to side

11. Yoga Position: Waterfall Pose
12. Pencil Jump
This one is super simple and just takes a pencil for each child. Maybe kids might even find a few pencils on the floor while they're down there! Here's how to play:
Each child places a pencil on the floor. The leader rolls a dice and tells how many times students jump over the pencil.  
Variation: Students work in pairs so that there are two pencils a foot or two apart. When the number of jumps is called, a student jumps over his/her pencil, then lands in between his/her pencil and the partner’s pencil for one jump. Then he/she turns around and repeats until the number of jumps over the pencils is completed.

If you'd like a set of the FREE Brain Break task cards, click here to hop over to my TpT store and grab a set.

Looking for a more complete set of Brain Breaks? I love using this set of 100 task cards with more than 250 different activities! Click here to find out more!

If you're looking for more information about Brain Breaks, here's a post I wrote which you might find helpful:

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