Brain Breaks - Action for Healthy Kids
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Brain Breaks

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Breaks give children opportunities to get active and mentally focused. Brain breaks are just what they sound like – an opportunity to take a break from what you are working, get moving, and wake up the brain. You can use brain breaks in the classroom, at home, and adults can even use them to refocus at work. They are especially helpful when having to sit for long period of times (e.g., during testing at school, while waiting at the doctor’s office, even in the car. Try one of these activities to wake up those brains! 


Take Action

Brain Break Dice 

  • Download and print AFHK’s Physical Activity Dice or make your own using items on hand.  
  • To make your own: Find a square object to decorate or create a paper box. This will be used as your dice. On each side, draw or write a physical activity, an animal, or think outside the box and make each side a different color and move how that color makes you feel. Once you have your activities, roll the dice and have fun!  
  • You can also play with body isolations (which means it’s great for on-the-go!). Have children sit in their seat. Using animals or colors move only the legs, only the arms, or only the face to express each movement. Reflect on the different muscles engaged with different parts of the body.

Mindful Moves 

  • Walk, dance, or move around the room until the music stops. Find a seat or strike a pose. Play different types of music and encourage children to match their moves to the music or how it makes them feel. Use prompts that encourage children to match different emotions to movement through colors, weather, etc. (e.g., what color does this music sound like? how does that color make you feel?) 
  • This is also a great one to do with body isolations (which means it’s great for on-the-go!). Have children sit in their seat. Move to the music using only the legs, only the arms, or only the face. Reflect on the different muscles engaged with different parts of the body. 

Smooth(ie) Move 

  • Invite children to make a list of healthy foods, encouraging them to explore all food groups  
  • Sitting in a seat or standing up – make a big arm circle and pretend to scoop up each ingredient. Repeat for each ingredient and invite children to try out combinations that may or may not make sense (e.g., bananas, lettuce, beans).  
  • Once all of the ingredients are added, begin to slowly wiggle, jiggle, jump or bounce and begin to “mix up the ingredients” faster and faster! 
  • Shout freeze to come back to a seated or standing position. Ask children to share what they think that smoothie would taste like with facial expressions only. Take turns swapping out different foods to brainstorm healthy (and yummy) combinations and explore what each food does for the body. 

The list goes on… 

Brain breaks can look all sorts of ways. Taking a moment to break from an activity or transition to a new part of the day allows the mind to connect with the body, reflect and reset through movement, art, mindfulness and more. Some other ideas include…  

  • Take five to color or doodle how you are feeling  
  • Grab a healthy snack and practice mindful eating 
  • Take five to think-pare-share. Check-in with a friend, classmate, or family member to explore feelings or respond to a prompt. Take a moment to share as a group to find similarities and differences in the room.  

Practice together. Whether in the classroom or at home – brain breaks are for all (and adults can model their importance by participating too).  

Keep physical activity breaks short and manageable. Shoot for 1 – 5 minute breaks at least 2-3 times per day. 

Empower children to suggest and choose which activities, games and movements they find enjoyable and accessible. 

Demonstrate modifications of simple and complex movement skills such as jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups. For example, show children a wall push-up, a kneeling push-up, and a full push-up. Give children the opportunity to choose which option is best for them. 

Children who need adaptations may benefit from follow the leader by pairing with a partner or small group to match moves 

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