Back to School Brain Breaks


As we have noted in previous blog posts, brain breaks are an essential part of the school day.  They allow time for students to recharge and are an opportunity for the classroom team to form connections and bond.  For teachers, introducing them and making them a part of the routine from the beginning will ensure students receive these much-needed breaks.  Here are a few to try this fall:


Space: Outdoor area with room for students to run or the gym.

Supplies: 1 ball (approximately 4 – 5 inches in diameter that can safely be tossed into the air and is lightweight).

Age group: All

Procedure: Give every student in the group a number (they must remember their number).  Students circle up and the teacher throws the ball straight up into the air and calls one number.  For example, she calls #7.  Student #7 must get the ball.  Once it is in his hands, he yells stop.  The rest of the students can run away until “stop” is called.  Student #7 can now take three steps toward one person in the circle and toss the ball at them.  If student #7 misses, they get a letter (S the first time, P the second, U the third, and D the fourth).  If the ball makes contact with the other person, they would get the letter.  Return to the center and play another round.  This game can be played for as long as time permits, and letters can carry over to future games.  The goal is not to get any letters.

Extension:  With older students, they can take turns calling out the number (let the student who received the letter throw the ball next).  Add additional rules:  feet must be planted on the ground if the ball is heading your way or if you catch the ball then the thrower gets the letter.

Beep Beep Pillow

Space:  Enough floor space for all students to sit in a circle.

Supplies: None.

Age group: All

Procedure: Students sit in a circle with their legs extended toward the center.  One student is in the middle.  They cover their eyes (or the teacher can cover them with a bandana), spin around three times, then sit on the ground.  The student crawls around the circle, and stop when they touch someone’s feet.  That student must say “beep beep pillow” in a disguised voice.  The student in the center has three guesses to determine who is speaking.  Then the round is over and another student goes in the middle.

Ubuntu Cards

These cards are available online from High 5 Adventure.

Here is a description of the cards from their website:

High 5’s Ubuntu Cards(c) are a multi-functional deck of cards that encourage a group to interact, find connections and have fun. There are 54 cards in each deck.  The cards offer limitless reflection opportunities through metaphor, but we have also discovered that they also offer just as many opportunities for group interaction and creative play.

The directions include instructions for 13 different games and initiatives, but we are constantly discovering new ways to use them and you will too! You can create your own interactive experiences and after your group has played with them they too will come up with variations, which is another powerful team building initiative. You’ll want these cards for your bag of tricks!

One set costs $22.00 and could easily be shared among teachers.