Research on the benefits of exercise on learning have long been established (Jensen, 2003; Medina, 2008). Brain breaks are just one form of those used in classrooms. Brain breaks have implications for students with special needs such as those with ADHD, ASD who benefit from breaks to help with self-regulation as well as the typical student due to the brain’s need to intake information and then reorganize that information. In Judy Willis’s article, Researched Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning (2006), calls brain breaks “syn-naps”, or opportunities of the synaptic information to be reorganize and processed for retention. Willis also cites taking “syn-naps” prevents overloading of the circuits to allow for making meaning of information and maintains positive emotional states.
Other known benefits of brain breaks:
- Circulation – Movement increases heart rate, oxygenation to the brain and relieve muscle tension (Jensen, 2003)
- Movement give new spatial meaning to information processed (Jensen, 2003)
Here are some great resources for brain breaks to use in the classroom or at the start of therapy for Brain break Resources for individual therapy or the classroom.
GoNoodle is a free online resources that provides brain break video guided activities 2-3 minutes in length for the classroom.
Here’s a short video explaining GoNoodle:
GoNoodle brain break video activities are categorized in three different activity categories:
Membership is required, with ample activities available for free. Pay for subscription is also available. This is a great resource that you can play and project using your computer or iPad (using a VGA connector for iPad) connected to a class digital projector. A link on your iPad home screen or Android table to the GoNoodle.com website also allows you to choose and play the video activities on your tablet in a one on one or small group basis. Here is an example of a calming GoNoodle.com video activity:
2. JAM (Just a Minute) School Program
JAM program provides one minute exercises for health and exercise breaks to the classroom. Free membership.
Here is an example of a video from JAM School:
JAM activities can also be played using Wi-Fi connectivity on your iPad for small groups or one to one intervention with students.
3. YouTube videos
Create a YouTube account and create a playlist of videos that provide brain break activities of your choosing. Download the free YouTube app for iPad/iPhone or Android device to access your chosen playlist of brain break activities. Of course there are many to choose from. When in YouTube do a search for “brain breaks” and many videos will be available for your selection.
Here is a Pinterest with suggested “School brain breaks and music while working” with suggested YouTube videos and other resources to peruse: http://www.pinterest.com/pmbronn/school-brain-breaks-music-while-working/
4. Teacher Pay Teachers.com
Teachers Pay Teachers.com is also an inexpensive option to find brain break activities for free or purchase. A simple search using “Brain Break” yields a long list. Many of the activity lists are PDF files with descriptions of the activities. Save the PDF file to your iBook for easy retrieval, to Google Drive, Adobe Reader app (free on iPad or for Android ) or your favorite PDF or document management app on your iPad. Access to activities can be at your finger tips where ever you are with a mobile device.
5. MeMoves video and app
Previously blogged about, MeMoves is a video on CD (59.99) that provides movement and music to aid focus, calming and joy. Although a MeMoves app is available, the video is preferred for projecting on the screen. Here is a video on MeMove activities:
Brain breaks and movement breaks area a great addition to therapy and for classrooms. For therapists consulting on students who have self-regulation, behavioral or attentional challenges, brain breaks can be another tool to help with student engagement. There are great resources out there on this research based intervention as well as testaments by teachers and therapists on its use. Mrs. Koene, LD teacher at Sheboygan Falls School District shared how engaged her students were with the use of GoNoodle activities. She has added this resource to her learning tools along with therapy ball, fidgets and active learning activites in her resource room. Thank you to Mrs. Koene for her feedback about the use of the website activities!
Big HT to Mrs. Vepraska, OTR who shared GoNoodle with me months ago! What a fabulous resource.
What resources do you use for brain break activities?
Medina, John J. Brain Rules. New York: Pear, 2008. Print.
Jensen, Eric. “Moving with the Brain in Mind.” (2003): n. pag. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. .
Willis, Judy. Research-based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2006. Print.