33 Energizing Brain Breaks for Elementary Students

Why take time for energizing brain breaks?

Children get far too little time to move their bodies. Which is why having regularly scheduled energizing brain breaks are important. According to pediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom,

Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”

In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.

Scans of children’s brains before and after a 20-minute walk, show that movement does fire or “turn on” their brains.
As teachers, we have the opportunity to fit in little movement breaks throughout the day to help keep kids activity and learning. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate and it doesn’t need to take a ton of time.
I would schedule in a few small breaks in your schedule to hold yourself accountable. However, when you notice your students are starting to fidget or get off task, put in an extra break!
I know the pressure of using every single minute of the school day to fit in test prep and standards, but trust me, the time you get back in instruction from taking the time to have these breaks will be worth it.
33 Energizing Brain Breaks that will keep students learning
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These are all energizing brain breaks that I use in my classroom.

33 Energizing Brain Breaks

  • Box breathing (in for 4-hold for 4-out for 4-hold for 4)
  • Yoga Pretzels 
  • Shoulder Shrugs
  • Energizing Brain Breaks
  • Arm Circles
  • GoNoodle
  • Chair Pushups
  • Sitting Still Like a Frog
  • Neck Stretches (side to side and front to back)
  • Draw Lazy 8’s in the Air
  • Pop!
  • Rock Paper Scissors with a Partner
  • Elbow to Opposite Knee (switch sides)
  • Massage Scalp
  • Silent Ball
  • Go Outside
  • Time for 10! Videos
  • Sing Row, Row, Row, Your Boat (eliminating one word each time)
  • Pass the Object (one student goes in the hallway, other students sit in a circle, one object is given to a student to keep hidden, the student from the hallway is invited back in and stands in the center of the circle, the students can secretly pass the object, the student in the center tries to guess who has the object)
  • Coseeki
  • Addition or Subtraction Around the World (students stand in a circle, show a flash card to the first two students, whoever says the correct answer first moves on to the next student in the circle, if one person makes it all the way around the circle they have won)
  • Who is Missing (have a student go into the hallway, then pick another student to hide under the teacher’s desk, invite the student in the hallway back in and see if they can guess who is hidden)
  • Play a round of Coconut
  • Frog Game (one person goes into the hallway while a frog is picked, children sit in a circle and the person in the hallway comes to the center of the circle, the frog makes eye contact with other students and sticks their tongue out at them, when this happens that student lays down, the person in the middle tries to guess who the frog is)
  • Play Sparkle with Spelling Words
  • Team Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Bubble Gum Bubble Gum In a Dish (I tell my students they have to pick a number from 5-15)
  • Heads Up Seven Up
  • Simon Says
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  • Have a Mini Dance Party
  • Line Up! (have students line up as quickly as they can using specific criteria, age, height, alphabetically by middle name, hair length, etc.)
  • Charades

I love having brain breaks for my students. It can be a pain though to constantly find new ideas. If the same brain breaks are used over and over again, they lose their appeal.

I hope this list of energizing brain breaks is helpful for you. My students love them and I’m sure yours will too!


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