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Character Education

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Digital Learning

Brain Breaks Bring More Effective Learning

I'm sure that you've heard of brain breaks, and may be using them right now in your classroom, but do you know why they are so effective as a learning tool? NIH (National Institutes of Health) scientists have found that during periods of wakeful rest, like the time spent doing a brain break activity, the brain actually replays the last new learning experienced over and over in a process called neural replay, making sure that it sticks. They found that wakeful rest is just as important as repeated practice in acquiring new learning! Seriously, I was today years old when I learned this! I've always known that kids need brain breaks throughout the day, but was not aware of the huge impact that these wakeful resting activities actually have on learning. Sign me up as an even bigger fan of brain breaks now!

Armed with our increased understanding of the importance of brain breaks, I thought it would be fun to review a few of my students' faves in this post!

The Conversational Opportunity

This, by far, has always been the top choice of my students when they are asked to vote on brain break activities. It's simply a chance to talk with others. Easily implemented, it can be a followup to something new that you've just been teaching, or it can be a remedy when students appear to be restless and start talking on their own. You can hold up a sign or just announce that it's time for a conversational opportunity. Set a timer or just say, "Take five!" and you time them for five minutes. Three to five minutes has always been the perfect interval in my classroom. 

I like to ask for volunteers to share what they talked about during this opportunity, and have been surprised and delighted to hear that many times the kids have been discussing the new learning! Just another way to lock in that learning!

Take a Deep Breath

Sometimes, just stopping to focus on breathing for a few minutes is all we need! Try standing up and breathing in for a count of five and breathing out for a count of five. You could use a count of two for the inhale and a count of four for the exhale. Try my Yoga in a Snap Cards for several more breathing techniques.

You can announce your stop and breathe session with either of these two free posters from Rainbow City Learning! 

Strike a Pose!

Getting into a Yoga pose and holding it for a minute or two is a great wakeful rest for your brain. Try a pose that all of your students may be familiar with, such as downward dog or tree pose, or choose a card from Yoga in a Snap Cards.

Dance Break!

This one works great as a conflict resolution technique as well as a brain break. Just announce, "Dance Break!" and start a favorite song on your playlist. Have that playlist ready on your teacher computer our your phone. No one can stay angry when they are dancing. Smiles will spread, tension will disappear, and the most recent learning will be playing on a repeat loop in the resting brains of your students.

Compliment exchange

Hand out some compliment cards and give students five minutes to choose another student to compliment by writing on the card and then delivering it. Afraid that some will be left out? Have some pre-addressed cards ready to go!

A compliment card can be on any scrap of paper, or you can find some fun printables here:

I hope you will  enjoy trying some of these brain break ideas to make learning more fun and effective every day! I would love to hear about other brain breaks that you already have in use. Please use the comment section below to tell me about your practice! 

For more ideas to try this month, please check out the fabulous bloggers of Teacher Talk! 

If you would also like to be a part of Teacher Talk, we are a group of teacher bloggers who share posts that are heavy on the ideas with just a little selling of our educational materials at TPT. For more information about joining The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative, go to  Feel free to email me at if you have any questions. 

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