Brain Break Resources for the Classroom and in Therapy

Brain Breaks canvaBrain Breaks

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 imageGoNoodle 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:

  • Calm
  • Focus
  • Energize

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 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 video activity:

2. JAM (Just a Minute) School Program

Just a Minute 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

Youtube pic 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:

4. Teacher Pay  

Teachers pay Teachers imageTeachers Pay 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

MeMoves app icon

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.

About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in Android, Clinic Based Interventions, Early Childhood, Education, Elementary School, Emotions, Focused attention, iPad, iPhone, Mental Health, Middle School, Mobile Device Use, Movement, Movement Apps, Occupational Therapy, Primary Grades, Research, School Based Interventions, Self-regulation, Special education, Special Education Teacher, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Brain Break Resources for the Classroom and in Therapy

  1. Nice comprehensive post. I do like GoNoodle but sometimes teachers don’t always have access to a computer so that is why the PDF documents can be so handy. Also, some schools do not allow access to You Tube.

    Many therapists who just need some quick warm up activities can use the printable ones. If you need some ideas we have a popular title Mini Movement Breaks at or get some printed Brain Breaks at We have a great freebie called Roll Some Fun (one of our most popular pages) at

  2. Repke, Laurice says:

    Happy Monday!

    See below….I asked about brain break suggestions earlier and just recently got this email. Some new ideas to me here!

    Laurice Repke Occupational Therapist


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