Picture this if you will. Your homeschooled children are sitting nicely at the table, quietly focused on getting all of their school work done for the day. No one is fighting, yelling, joking, arguing, or bouncing around in their chair. Sounds familiar right?! Not at our house!! My daughter has days where she is focused and gets right to the task at hand, but that is so not the norm! She is a social little thing and always wants to be a part of whatever else is going on around her, anything except for her school work!
And then there is my son who is 2 1/2 and wants to do everything his big sister does. So naturally he wants to be sitting at the table with her doing his own “work” like a big kid, which means that she can’t focus as much as she should on her own work. I try to do activities with my son away from his sister, but of course she gets curious and wants to join in, ahhhh!! What’s a mommy to do?!
Enter Brain Breaks! This is not something that I came up with myself, but it’s an idea that I have been reading about lately. Brain breaks are short breaks (2-10 minutes) that your children take when you see them losing focus, getting antsy, or when they have that glazed over look to them! I see all of these things from my daughter on a pretty regular basis, so I thought we would give brain breaks a try.
The activities for brain breaks can be anything you want. From activities that get your kiddos up and moving, to games that are less active. And they can be things that last 2 minutes if your kids just need a quick activity, to ones that take 10 minutes to do; totally up to you and what you think your children need!
Some people keep their brain break activities on index cards, some are written on popsicle sticks and kept in a jar, or even writing the activities on pieces of paper and drawing them out of a box works; again, it’s up to you! Ours are on pieces of paper that are cut out and kept in a labeled envelope so that when we need a break we can just draw an activity from the envelope and get right to playing! Not only do the kids enjoy the activities, but it also gives me the chance to take a short break and spend quality time playing with my kids; it’s a win-win!
If you want the activities we use, you can download the free printable activity cards and label here or by clicking the picture at the end of this post! There are even blank cards so that you can fill in your own brain break activities.
Here is a list of fun Brain Break activities to start using with your kiddos when you see that they (and you!) just need a little break:
- Play Simon Says.
- Go on a scavenger hunt (indoors or outdoors) for different shapes, numbers, colors or objects.
- Play a round of Go Fish (or another favorite card game).
- Dance to a few GoNoodle videos/songs on your computer.
- Play charades.
- Make an obstacle course (indoors or outdoors).
- Play 5-4-3-2-1 (One person has the other child(ren) do 5 different movements, starting with 5 of something, then 4, 3, 2, then 1. For example they do 5 jumping jacks, hop on one foot 4 times, jump up and down 3 times, spin around 2 times, clap 1 time).
- Read a favorite short book or a chapter of a book.
- Play I spy.
- Play tic-tac-toe.
- Do the “1 minute of…” game (You set a 1 minute timer and the child has to do a specific activity for 1 minute, such as jumping jacks, acting like a certain animal, jumping rope, dance, etc.).
- Listen to a short book on CD/audiobook.
- Squiggle it! – Have one person draw a simple squiggle on paper, dry erase board or chalkboard, and another person has to turn that squiggle into an object/picture.
- Play “Find it Fast” – Name the trait of an object (something blue, something round, something loud, etc.) and your child has to look around and find something that fits that trait and quickly bring it back to you.
- Ask a few “would you rather…?” questions.
- Play a couple rounds of Pictionary (Using your own version or the actual game).
- Dance to the Hokey Pokey.
- Play the “Freeze dance” game (play some fun music and have the kids dance and when you pause the music they have to freeze in place. Then hit play again and start all over).
- Play “20 questions” (where the person who is “it” thinks of an object/item and the other person/people have to guess that item by asking only 20 questions or less).
- Take a short walk outside.
- Play “Jump the River”– jump back and forth across a jump rope; either kept still or you can wiggle it like a snake (slow then faster).
- Have a little dance party!
- Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (Start out slow and each time you sing it a little faster).
- Tell some jokes and riddles.
- Play the hot/cold game – One child hides an object, like a stuffed animal or something similar, and then the other person/people have to try and find it using the clues the child gives, saying if the players are hot (close to the hidden object) or cold (far away from the hidden object).
- Name different animals and the child(ren) have to act and sound like those different animals.
- Balance it – Have child walk around the room, or from one point to another, balancing various objects on their head (paper plates, pillows, a stuffed animal, a book, etc.).
- Play red light, green light.
- Walk the tightrope – Use a jump rope set on the floor and use like it’s a balance beam or pretend it is a tightrope to walk on.
- Blow up a balloon (or several balloons to make it more challenging) and see how long you can keep it in the air for.
- Play “Name that Object” – Hide a common object in a pillowcase or bag and without looking, your child reaches in and tries to guess what the object is based only on touch.
- Indoor hoops – Take turns tossing a ball, bean bag, or even crumpled up paper into an empty box or laundry basket.
- Do a puzzle (one with not many pieces).
- Play “What’s Missing?” – Place several household objects, toys, etc (more if you have older children) on the table or floor and have child(ren) study what’s there. After they have looked it all over, have them close their eyes as you take away one object. They open their eyes and try to figure out which object is missing.
- Do the limbo (using a broom handle or something similar).
- Play “Happy face, Sad face” – Stand in front of a mirror and have child (and yourself!) make faces to match different emotions (happy, sad, surprised, angry, sleepy, scared, etc).
- Play one round of a board game.
- Play hide and seek.
- Be a robot – Go around the house walking, talking or dancing like robots.
- “Repeat it” – One person does a short series of movements and the other person(s) have to try and repeat it (For example, tap your shoulder once, jump up once and then pat your knees twice).
These are just a few Brain Break ideas that you can do with your kids when you start to notice a case of ants in the pants or see that glazed over look on their face! What other ideas would you add to this list?
If you want this list in printable form, you can download it here or by clicking the picture below and then cutting out the cards (4 pages) and label; now they’re ready to use!