Brain Break – A Virtual Learning Must!
Brain breaks are mental breaks designed to help students stay focused and attend to tasks.
Now more than ever when planning instruction, educators need to find a way to include brain breaks into the lesson. Teaching virtually has shown that not only students with needs but all students need a break! And us too!
Students are spending more time at the screen so a break that allows for a brief disconnect helps them to regroup and refocus on the task at hand. I prefer to use breaks with movement. Active brain breaks are better suited for my students with AD/HD. Relaxing breaks are more suited for my students with reading challenges.
Of course, you will know your student best. It’s easy to incorporate a brain break into the lesson you are teaching and still learn at the same time. How often you use a brain break depends on the child and the length of your lesson. Some children need a minimum of two, some only need one break.
When choosing an active brain break, I work in conjunction with Youth Education Specialist, Shakeira Waithe. She creates a range of movement activities specifically for my students with needs. As she explains,
“Active brain breaks help kids to refocus and be more productive; even for me personally, without an active brain break, it is difficult to function at optimum levels.”
Here are two examples of how I incorporate the lesson into an active or relaxing brain break:
Ordinal Numbers – if the lesson is grouped, have students stand at similar distances and race back to the screen. Have them state the positions they returned. Have students race to find objects in their home and bring them back to the session. Have them tell you the positions in which they found the objects.
Adjectives – ahead of the session, ask the student to bring a favourite toy or object to use later. When it is time for a break, encourage the student to describe a toy or object to show understanding of the concept. Have the student close their eyes and describe a relaxing place such as the beach. They can describe sounds, smells, sights, etc.
Here are some brain breaks I love to use in my sessions with younger students:
Action Songs: great for younger children to encourage movement. They love to dance!
Show and Tell: students can bring a favourite toy, object etc and tell me about it.
Exercise: movement is the number one brain break that I use! I have students march to the fridge, do bunny hops, and more. I add a fun twist! Choose a number and do the corresponding activity or spin a wheel.
Charades: give a theme and have students act out a word from that theme for the others to guess.
Clue: for grouped sessions, have students stand then name characteristics of a student and have them try to figure out who the suspect is. Students sit if the characteristics do not match them.
Simon Says: an oldie but a goodie! We all know this game and we’ve all probably messed up!
Physical Challenges: Try a yoga pose or have them try to touch their nose with their tongue for example. Give them a challenge that’s impossible but so much fun to try!
Pictionary: students are given a theme and are allowed to draw on the screen where I guess the answer. We take turns. This is always a fun one!
Discussions: students love to talk, so let them. Sometimes they just need to be able to talk about anything (within limits) and that alone is the perfect break.
I’ve included an active brain break for you to try! It’s called “Would You Rather” and was created by Shakeira Waithe, fancied by yours truly. We hope your students enjoy it! Click HERE to download!