Brain Breaks:


1. All My Neighbors

Form a circle of chairs with the leader in the center.  The leader says, "All my neighbors who like camping find a new seat." Or, "All my neighbors who like the read find a new seat."  Participants take a turn coming to the center until everyone has taken a turn asking about their neighbors.

2. Back to Back Handoffs

Stand back - to - back with partners.  See how many times you can pass the ball around your back to your partner, and have them return it on the other side in 30 seconds.

3. Ball Toss

2 steps back: See how many tosses you can add up in 30 seconds.  Then proceed to 4 steps back.  Then add the fact that you must spin after throwing.  Complete it with your best distance for a try at your best record.

4. Brain Vacation

Close your eyes. Either read a relaxing description or have students go to their most relaxing location.  Remind them to take in all five senses at this one location.  Fully experience this location for three to four minutes.  Return to class refreshed and renewed.

5. Ping Pong Breath

Lie on your back.  Imagine that there is a ping-pong ball on your lips.  Concentrate and blow the ball as high as you can get it.  Let your breath slowly return it to your lips.  Do this seven more times.

6. Blow out Five Candles

Hold up your hands with fingers spread.  Imagine each is its own candle.  Concentrate and blow them out one at a time.  All of your focus should be on directing your breath.  Concentrate on each one and extinguish them one by one.

7. Book on Diaphragm

Lie on your back.  Place a book on your lower abdomen.  Concentrate on making that book rise and fall.  Really concentrate on this type of breathing.  Compare it to how you breathe while sitting in your seat.

8. Rock Paper Scissors

Partners have the choice of Rock, Paper, or Scissors.  Rock defeats Scissors.  Scissors defeats Paper.  Paper defeats Rock.  Play best out of 7 games.

9. Rock Paper Scissors Addition

Instead of choosing rock, paper, or scissors, students put out a number of fingers.  The first one to correctly add up the total of their fingers plus their partners and yell the sum wins.

10. Rock Paper Scissors Multiplication

Instead of choosing rock, paper, or scissors, students put out a number of fingers.  The first one to correctly multiply the number of their fingers by the number of their partners and yell the product wins.

11. Paper Plate Game

Start out walking around the room with a paper plate balanced on your head.  The idea is to not let the plate fall from your head.  If it does, they cannot move until someone is nice enough to help them out by carefully bending to the ground to pick up the plate and put it back on that person's head (this must be done without allowing their own plate to fall).

12. High Fives - Goal Setting

Trace your non-dominant hand.  In the palm write a goal.  In each finger, write a step that needs to be taken to achieve this goal.  Use this to help take steps toward a long-term goal.

13. Force Field Analysis - Goals

Use this to help make decisions in your life.  On the left, write negatives of the choice.  On the right, record positives.  In the middle draw a picture of yourself or a stick person.  Draw arrows from the person to the positives and negatives.  Darken the lines for the items that have more "pull" or make those arrows longer.  Use this to decide which choice you'd rather go with.

14. Mental Rehearsal - Twisting and Visualizing

Stand with your feet at shoulder width.  Place your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height.  Looking over your right shoulder and out your arm, twist without moving your feet or hips.  Look directly where your arm is pointing.  Slowly return back to the front.  Visualize doing it again.  Following this, visualize doing it again, but see yourself going past that spot.  Really see the new location that you have reached in your mind.  Slowly return to the front.  Not actually try it.  Slowly turn, finding yourself passing your old far spot to your newest visualized place.

15. Mental Rehearsal - Most Relaxing Place

Put your head on your desk, or just close your eyes.  Picture a place that is the most relaxing place.  Take in the sights, sounds, and all five senses of this place.  Enjoy it!  Place a blank black screen over your thoughts.  Make this place disappear.  Really try to blank out your mind, not thinking of anything.  Concentrate on removing all of your thoughts.  Bring back your relaxing place.  Enjoy it once more.  Come back to class refreshed.

16. Peg System

Click on the Link.  Use this to help you remember any number of things.

17. Pattern Team Juggle

Create a circle.  Say a person's name and toss them a ball.  All players must receive the ball before the pattern is re-started.  Add more balls for higher complexity.

18. Music in my Head

Think of one of your favorite songs.  clothes your eyes and think about the lyrics, the tune, the way it makes you feel.  Softly play this song over in your mind.  Feel the happiness and warmth the song brings to you.  Try and hold onto this song throughout the day.  When in a lull or stressed out, try to pull the song back into your memory.

19. Born Too Late - By The Clarks      

Click on the Link.  Can you identify all of the famous individuals in the song?

20. Yoga Poses

Have students stand at their seats.  Do poses such as the Tired Warrior or others that students might know to calm the students.  Have them reflect and really think of their breathing throughout this activity.

21. Stretches / Flexes

Have students stand at their seats.  Over the course of the year, teach students each of the thirteen major muscle groups (Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi, Deltoid, Pectoralis Major, Abdominals, Obliques, Biceps, triceps, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Gastrocnemius, and Erector Spinnae).  Do either stretches for these muscles or flexes to work these muscles.  One can be picked each day.  Once all have been taught and review, go back over each of them discussing pushing and pulling muscles.

22. How Much Sugar?

This activity requires sugar, a clear plastic cup, and a teaspoon.  Guess the amount of sugar in a 16 oz. Mountain Dew and a small bag of skittles.  Show how much sugar this is by utilizing the clear cup, sugar, and tsp.  Answers listed here.

23. Hit-Miss-Close Game

Pick a three digit number.  Have students guess the number.  It cannot begin with a 0 or have two of the same digits.  You can result in a HIT - meaning one digit is in the correct place and is the correct digit.  You can also have the result of CLOSE - meaning it is the correct digit, but in the wrong location.  Finally the digit could be a MISS - meaning it is the wrong digit and wrong location.  Continue until the correct three digit number is guessed.

24. Hoopla

Depending on the class size, have participants move into a large circle, or two smaller circles.  Hold hands.  Two members of the group must break hands and put a hoola hoop on their arms.  Join hands again.  the object is to pass the hoola hoop completely around the circle without breaking the link of hands.

25. Tangled Web

Depending on the class size, have participants move into a large circle, or two smaller circles.  Have students shake and keep hold of hands with someone who is not to their immediate right or left with their right hand.  Do the same with their left hand.  Once everyone has both hands connected to two different people in the group who are not to the right or left of them, untangle yourselves without breaking your grip on the other's hands.

26. Name Write

Have everyone stand up and do the following:

Write their mother's name in the air with the top of their head.

Write their father's name in the air with their right elbow.

Write their best friend's name in the air with their left elbow.

Write what they had for breakfast with their right hip.

Finally, if you could have any dessert, what would it be?  Write it with your left hip.

27. Imaginary Item Toss

Everyone stands in a circle.  One person starts by throwing an imaginary object to someone else in the room.  the thrower must act like they are throwing the object announced, just as the receiver must act as though they are catching what was announced.  once you throw the item, you sit down.  Once everyone is seated, you can play another round or return to your seats.

28. Finger Grab

Stand facing your partner.  Each person puts their right hand out, palm up, and places their left pointer finger in their partners palm.  When the teacher says go, each person simultaneously tries to grab the other person's finger and pull their own finger out of the palm of the other person.

29. Silent Line Up

Without saying a word, students need to form a line.  the order can be determined by the teacher.  Some popular orders include birthday, alphabetical order, height, or any other ideas.

30. Whoosh, Whoa, Zap!

Object of the game: be the last two remaining players in the game.  Select a player to start, eliminate players that make a mistake.

Whoosh - fingers point and "whoosh" to the person to their immediate right or left.

Zap - fingers point and "zap" anyone but the person to their immediate right or left.  You cannot zap back when you are zapped.

Whoa - hold up palms and recoil stating, "whoa."   It goes directly back to the person who "whooshed" you.  You cannot Whoa a zap.

31. The Balance Game

Stand with a partner and place your palms on theirs in front of you - shoulder height.  partners will try and knock each other off balance by hitting hands or moving hands backward when your partner comes at you.  You win if you keep your feet planted and your partner moves theirs.

32. Cross Crawl

Take your right elbow and cross the midline of your body while your left knee comes up to meet your left elbow.  Then take your left elbow and do the same with your right knee.  Do this slowly a few times.

33. Lazy 8's

Draw a large infinity sign, or sideways eight, by starting at the center point.  Use a smooth and continuous motion and follow your hand with your eyes.  Go clockwise and then go counter clockwise.  Continue slowly with one hand, then switch, going both directions.

34. Alphabet 8's

Draw the infinity sign on the board with a line of symmetry down the middle.  trace the lower case letters of the alphabet while using the lines and crossing the visual midline.

35. Lazy 8's for the Eyes

Hold your thumb up at eye level in the mid-field of your body.  Draw the infinity sign by keeping your head still and following your thumb with your eyes.  Go counter clockwise first, then following the same patter clockwise.

36. The Owl

Take your left hand and grip the muscles of your right neck.  Look over your right shoulder slowly.  Remember to keep the chin level.  Continue to grip the muscles while turning your head.  Breathe deeply and keep your shoulders back.  Place your chin on your chest and exhale.  Switch sides and repeat.

37. Energy Yawn

Open your mouth as you would when you yawn.  rub the areas where your jaw muscles connect.  Repeat this three times.

38. The Elephant

Relax your knees and straighten your arm out and downward.  Place your right ear against your right shoulder.  Draw the infinity symbol on the floor with your right arm slowly on the floor with your "trunk" hanging downward.  Concentrate and complete this three to five times before switching arms to complete the same sequence with your left arm.

39. Silent Ball Toss

Stand in a circle.  All involved must remain silent.  Toss the ball to anyone in the class except someone directly to your left or right.  Underhand tosses only.  The teacher stands to the side - Any noise = out.  Hallway if you cannot keep quiet.  Teacher also assesses whether it is a "Catchable Ball," "Uncatchable Ball," or "Silent - You're Out."  When you are out you sit quietly at your place or at your desk.

40. Am / Am Not

Make a T-chart on the board.  Over the left side, write "AM."  Over the right side, write "AM NOT."  create a list of items down the left column that all have something in common.  The right side are items that do not have anything in common.  It is the students job to guess what the items down the left have in common, but they may not say this out loud.  They must guess another item that you are, but are not.  If their guess is correct, write it on the board.  If not, reveal another item until the majority of the class thinks they know it. (USE ALREADY CREATED LISTS)

41. Lateral Thinking Exercise

Read Lateral Thinking exercises to give students a break, but also allowing them to think outside of the box.  These exercises will cause them to think logically, but also creatively. (USE ALREADY PRINTED LISTS)

42. 1,001 Questions and Answers

Read trivia questions from book.  Ask students which category they would like to focus on for the day.  Ask a few trivia questions to give their minds a break from what is being discussed.  Come back to the topics that were being taught with a newly found focus. (USE BOOK)

43. Parts of Speech Matching

Pass cards out or just create a line of students.  Have students identify the part of speech they have, or have them identify it, returning to the end of the line once they have figured it out.  Do this to help make the parts of speech more engrained in their minds, but also to take a break from an English lesson.

44. Brain Quest

Read trivia questions from cards.  Ask students which category they would like to focus on for the day.  Ask a few trivia questions to give their minds a break from what is being discussed.  Come back to the topics that were being taught with a newly found focus. (USE CARDS)

45. Name on Forehead

Have students place a note card on their forehead.  Have them try and write their name on that note card, while holding it on their forehead.  they will not only have to concentrate on their name, but also writing it correctly backward on their forehead.  This will allow them to refocus, giving their mind a break from the topics discussed in the lesson and come back with better focus.

46. X-Home Pencil Challenge

Without lifting your pencil, try to draw a square with an x in it, complete with a triangular roof.  the hard part is, you cannot go over the same line twice.  This challenge will get their minds cleared and refreshed for the next topic.

47. Non-Dominant Hand Name

Try writing your full name with your non-dominant hand.  then try to sign it exactly like you do with your right.  For an increased challenge, try writing a sentence in cursive with your non-dominant hand

48. Eyes Closed Snowman

With your eyes closed, see how well you can draw a snowman complete with three snowballs, a hat, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, four buttons, a scarf, and two sticks for arms.  Open your eyes to see how well you did.

49. Drawing From Memory

Pick an item and have students do a quick drawing of it from memory.  Have them compare them with each other and put them away.  this takes the student's attention and focuses it on something other than what is being taught.  Upon returning to the subject matter, students should have a better focus for a longer duration of time.  Some items you may want to draw include: a toothbrush, their TV remote, their favorite movie cover, or any other common item that they might see frequently.

50. Animal Charades

Groups write the name of animals on small pieces of paper.  One group acts out an animal that is chosen.  The group that guesses the correct animal gets to act out the next one chosen.

51. U.F.O. Ball

Stand in a circle around the classroom.  Connect hands.  Talk about the electric charge that is passed between our bodies.  Touch the one side of the ball and have it form the complete circle with the group.  To make it even more interesting, have the students play a song on the ball while in the circle.  Add a cup of water across from the ball and have students complete the circuit by sticking a finger each in eh cup of water.

52. Whisper Down the Lane

Whisper a sentence in the ear of a neighbor.  In a circle, have that student whisper what you said.  Continue this as it goes around the circle.  The sentence can only be said once and cannot be repeated at any time by any participant.

53. Backhand Key Pass

Form a line and hold hands.  The person on the end gets a key and passes it to their other hand.  With the back of hands that are held, pass the key down the line.  You cannot break the bond by letting go of hands, and at any time if the key falls to the ground, you must start over.  The class can be split into smaller groups and this can be made into a challenge.

54. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

With the lights out and students lying on the floor, read the script that will have students focus on each individual muscle group, tensing it, and relaxing it. (PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION SCRIPT IN BOOK OR ONLINE)

55. Five Arrow Directions

Point to the arrows in the first row and ask the students to say the DIRECTION of the arrow.  Point to the arrows in the second row and ask the students to MOVE IN THE DIRECTION the arrow is pointing.  Point to the arrows in the third row.  Ask the students to SAY THE DIRECTION and MOVE IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.  Point to the arrows in the fourth row.  SAY THE OPPOSTIE DIRECTION and MOVE IN THE DIRECTION of the arrow.  Finally, SAY AND MOVE IN THE DIRECTION of the arrows in the fifth row.

56. The Arm Stretch

Raise one arm into the air and press it against your ear.  Reach the other arm behind your head and grab the straight arm at the elbow.  Move the arm forward while applying resistance.  Continue by moving the arm in all directions while applying resistance each time.  Switch arms.

57. Parts of Speech Charades

Meet with a group of students.  Write a sentence and break it into the parts of speech.  Give each student a card with the part of speech that they will be acting out.  In the order of the sentence, have the students show what part of speech they will be acting out, and then have them act out that word or phrase.  When students guess it, write it on the board and continue through the sentence.

58. Scattergories

Write the five categories on the board and select a letter.  Give the students two minutes to come up with an item that starts with that letter that also fits in the category on the board.  Once two minutes are up, have students read their answers.  If another student has the same answer, cross them out, no points given.  If an answer is questionable, vote as a class if the answer works, majority wins.

59. Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader Science

Starting with first grade, read a trivia question from the book.  If it is correct, progress to the next grade level.  Continue until an answer for fifth grade is answered correctly. (USE BOOK)

60. The Missing Dollar Dilemma

Three friends check into a motel for the night and the clerk tells them the bill is $30, payable in advance.  So, they each pay the clerk $10 and go to their room.  A few minutes later, the clerk realizes he has made an error and overcharged the trio by $5.  He asks the bellhop to return $5 to the 3 friends who had just checked in.  The bellhop sees this as an opportunity to make $2 as he reasons that the three friends would have a tough time dividing $5 evenly among them; so he decides to tell them that the clerk made a mistake of only $3, giving a dollar back to each of the friends.  He pockets the leftover $2 and goes home for the day!  Now, each of the three friends gets a dollar back, thus they each paid $9 for the room which is a total of $27 for the night.  We know the bellhop pocketed $2 and adding that to the $27, you get $29, not $30 which was originally spent.  Where did the other dollar go????

61. Math and Letters

What Equals 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been in situations where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 101%? What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these



Is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


11+14+15+23+12+5 +4+7+5 = 96%


1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

62. Cross / Uncross

Cross arms.  Uncross and place your other arm on top.  Alternate back and forth.

63. Interlaced Fingers

Interlace your fingers.  Uncross and place your other index finger on top, interlaced.  Alternate back and forth.

64. No Guns in School

One hand, only thumb up.  Other hand, only index finger out.  Switch without creating a "gun" by having both your index finger out and thumb up on one hand at once.

65. Ear and Nose Grab

With your left hand, grab your right ear.  With your right hand, grab your nose.  Switch, grabbing your left ear with your right hand and nose with your left hand.  Do this quickly, but don't hurt yourself!

66. Breather

Sit upright.  lean forward and breathe deeply for three seconds in and three seconds out.  Increase your breathing with your diaphragm.

67. Squeezer

With your elbows at right angles and clenched fists, squeeze inward, holding for three seconds.  Relax for three seconds, then repeat.

68. Breather and Squeezer Combo

Alternate between the above two, concentrating on breathing, then tensing, then breathing.

69. Balloon Team Juggle

In small groups of three to six people, hold hands.  Throw in an inflated balloon and see how long you can keep it in the air without breaking the bond by letting go of hands.  The balloon must be kept in motion as well.

70. Chair Push Ups

Grabbing the sides of your chair, extend your legs straight out.  Lower yourself in front of your chair and extend your arms to push yourself back up.  Continue for a few repetitions.

71. Leg and Arm Clockwork

Extend your right leg and arm.  Rotate them in a clockwise motion together.  Then rotate both counter-clockwise.  Switch and do the same with your left arm and leg.  Do them one at a time or both at once.

72. Two up / Two Down / One up-One down

In a circle, start by saying that there is something that we will all be looking for.  Tell participants that you will be telling them if they are correct or in correct.  Start the patter with "Two Up."

73. Finger Slaps

Stand facing a partner.  With your index fingers palm up, have them place their index fingers on yours.  Try and flip your hand and slap their index fingers before they can pull them away.  After you get one chance, they get the next chance.  make sure not to hit too hard.

74. I Spy Colors

Pick a color.  The first person to touch that color gets to pick the next color.  Continue a few rounds.

75. Follow Directions - Eyes Closed

With your eyes closed, fold a paper in half and tear off the left corner.  Fold in half again and tear off the upper left.  Fold in half again and tear off the lower right.  Open your eyes, unfold, and compare with your neighbors.  It is important to have clear and direct instructions or this could happen and results could be not what you want them to be.

76. Survival - A Simulation Game

You and your companions have just survived the crash of a small plane.  Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash.  It is mid-January , and you are in Northern Canada.  The daily temperature is 25 below zero, and the night time temperature is 40 below zero.  There is snow on the ground,
and the countryside is wooded with several creeks criss-crossing the area.  The nearest town is 20 miles away.  You are all dressed in city clothes appropriate for a business meeting.  Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:

A ball of steel wool
A small ax
A  loaded  .45-caliber pistol
Can of Crisco shortening
Newspapers (one per person)
Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas
A sectional air map made of plastic
One quart of 100-proof whiskey
A  compass
Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)

Your task as a group is to list the above 12 items in order of importance for your survival.  List the uses for each.  You  MUST come to agreement as a group.

Click here for the list of items and an explanation.

Brain Breaks - Exercises - Mind Breaks - Activities


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ęScott E. Engle -