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56 Quick Brain Breaks Empower Learning and Good Behavior

Use Brain Breaks To Improve Student Wellbeing And Attention. A Great Classroom Management Tool For Good Behavior.

If you're looking for a fun way to engage your students and ensure they're doing their best learning, then brain breaks are the perfect solution!

Students spend almost a third of their day in the classroom. During this time, they’re expected to sit still and pay attention for long periods while reading, writing, and listening - not a great recipe for good behavior! Studies show that almost one-quarter of this time is lost as kids are unable to stay focused when they have to concentrate for extended periods.


Lost attention can be improved by shortening learning time. Taking frequent movement breaks inside a lesson helps because sitting for 20 – 30 minutes results in 80% of blood pooling in the hips. This means that the brain is being deprived of the oxygenated blood needed for mental clarity. When students move around it increases blood flow to the brain to help with learning as well as cardiovascular and muscular fitness, bone health, and many other benefits.

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When physical activity is used as a break from academic learning time, post-engagement effects include better attention, increased on-task behaviors, and improved academic performance.

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Neuroscience backs this up by showing that the best learning happens when teaching blocks are kept short. When long lessons are broken up with brain break activities every 10-15 minutes, it not only gets students back on task and improves the quality of the information being absorbed but can improve behavior too.

Brain Breaks Cards For Elementary Students. Mindfulness And Movement Ideas For The Classroom For Student Wellbeing.

Dr. Judy Willis, a neurologist and classroom teacher explains why short lessons are better.

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Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that carry messages from one nerve cell to the next, across gaps between the cells called synapses. These message carriers are necessary to keep one’s calm, focused attention and maintenance of a new memory. Neurotransmitters are in limited supply at each synapse and can deplete after as little as 10 minutes of continuing the same type of learning activity.

Brain breaks, by switching the type of mental activity, shift brain communication to networks with fresh supplies of neurotransmitters. This intermission allows the brain’s chemicals to replenish within the resting network.

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What are Brain Breaks for Kids?

A brain break is simply a short interval where students stop a lesson or activity that requires them to pay attention for long periods of time. They can participate in brain breaks individually or the activity can involve the whole grade.

As they participate in mindfulness meditation or a physical activity a different part of the brain is in use to give the part that was used for the learning activity time to rejuvenate. This short break makes learning more effective as their attention and ability to absorb information are restored.

Brain breaks are simple and effective classroom management resources for teachers that pack a big punch.

When to Use a Brain Break and How Long They Should Be?

It’s important to break a lesson up before children become bored and distracted. Dr. Willis recommends no longer than 10-15 minutes of continuous learning for elementary school students.

If students are starting to act out, it can be a sign that time out is needed. One of the best behavior management strategies in the classroom is to take a quick one to five-minute brain break to settle the class. Though it may feel like you’re breaking their train of thought, for many students, a break is exactly what they need to get back on track.

These Brain Break Cards Help Students To Reset Their Brains So They Can Pay Attention And Absorb Information More Effectively.

What are the Benefits of Brain Breaks?

We’ve already touched upon some of the benefits of mindfulness brain breaks as well as movement breaks in the classroom for cognitive and social and emotional wellbeing but there are a lot more than you might imagine:

  • They help to improve the quality and quantity of information students absorb.
  • Activities where students laugh or interact with their peers improves their mood.
  • When a subject feels tedious or frustrating a brain break can enhance motivation.
  • Students develop social skills when they participate in group activities.
  • Breaks can boost confidence and self-esteem by helping children succeed at a task.
  • They can enhance comprehension, problem-solving skills, and creative thinking.
  • Brain breaks can increase cognitive function to improve productivity and results.
  • They are great for increasing engagement and building community in the classroom.
  • Brain breaks can strengthen teacher-student relationships.
  • And there are numerous physical benefits too!

When it comes to students with special needs like Autism, research again supports brain breaks as a way to help them stay engaged and learn. It should be noted that you may need to be more selective of the types of brain breaks you use or customize breaks to suit individuals to ensure they do not trigger frustration or anxiety.  

What Type of Brain Break Activities for Kids are There?

Brain breaks are often centered around movement to help refresh the brain but there are times when a mindfulness activity is more appropriate.

Mindfulness is a way of training the brain to stay in the present moment or to calm anger and anxiety. When it was studied in a school setting, the results proved that it’s an effective way to help children reduce stress and negative stimuli to help them stay focused.

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Incorporating mindfulness into education has been linked to improving academic and social and emotional learning. Also, mindfulness strengthens some underlying development processes—such as focus, resilience, and self-soothing—that will help kids in the long run.

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Examples of Brain Break Activities for Kids

There are a lot of ways you can implement wellbeing breaks but if you're too busy to search for brain break ideas, consider grabbing a ready-made set of brain break cards for students. You'll save so much time with a done-for-you resource! 

A Personalized Brain Break Card Deck For Students. They Select And Color Their Own Cards.

Here are a few examples:

  • Dance to some music but remember to freeze when it stops.
  • Find someone to high-five and then someone else to low-five. Keep going until you’ve done 5 of each with different people.
  • Jump on the spot like a frog for 1 minute.
  • Walk around like robots. You can even make robot sounds.
  • Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your hands holding them. Move your knees up and down like a butterfly flapping its wings.
  • Stand up, close your eyes and gently massage the pressure point between your thumb and index finger for 30 seconds. Switch to the other hand.
  • They are great for increasing engagement and building community in the classroom.
  • Brain breaks can strengthen teacher-student relationships.
  • Do the Macarena dance together as a class. Look it up online if you need to see how it’s done.

Ideas for Using Brain Break Cards

Brain breaks are a great way to re-engage and motivate students when their attention starts to wane. Knowing that a break is coming up can help them to stay engaged, so don’t feel bad dangling that carrot in front of them.

  • A brain break can increase focus and productivity so break up long lessons with a quick activity.
  • Use during circle time or to start your morning meetings.
  • Take a quick break between lessons to help students transition.
  • Use during indoor recess on rainy days.
  • Give your deck to a substitute teacher to find filler activities.
  • Allow a child to select and read the activity for reading practice.
  • Put up some cards in your calm down corner.

56 Ready-Made Brain Break Cards

Brain breaks are something many teachers like to use multiple times each day. But, if you don't have time to trawl the web for ideas, you can grab this set of ready-made brain break activities for kids. Just print, cut, and laminate your cards and you'll have easy breaks your students will LOVE and you can use for years!

This engaging set of 56 easy brain breaks for students is an amazing classroom management resource as it helps students calm down and refocus through movement, mindfulness, meditation, and games.

There's a choice of fun images for the back if you want to make a deck or punch a hole in the corner to thread them onto a ring and use one of the covers supplied.

A selection of the cards is also provided as outlines for students to color in to make a personalized card deck or ring to use at home while they’re doing their homework. This is a great way to form a healthy habit of taking a break to refresh their brain. 

There are also some coloring pages with tracing to go with a mindfulness activity.

Brain and movement breaks for kids are essential for improving motor skills, cognitive, physical, and social and emotional wellbeing. Grab your set of brain breaks for the classroom to improve wellbeing and results in your grade!

Brain Breaks For Students Including Coloring Pages As A Mindfulness Activity.


AUTHOR: Lisa Currie - Ripple Kindness Project
Lisa is passionate about contributing to a happier world by building emotional intelligence in kids through fun and engaging social-emotional learning resources. Her core value is kindness as she believes it to be the “mother” of all character traits. She started Ripple Kindness Project to spread kindness in schools and communities. She is also the founder and director of an outreach program that supports disadvantaged families.  

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