Last Updated on May 28, 2022 by Editorial Team
Schooling is often important and distinct for young toddlers. While most of their learning often ensures creative arts like painting, shapes, music, and dancing, a few more strategies may be implemented to make sure they perform to their best.
Even though the classes are entertaining, these little learners may need rest at regular intervals to rejuvenate back to track. In simple terms, they need brain breaks. The article enlists a few break activities that can provide an overview of various strategies that will work for students with diverse mindsets as well.
Preschoolers and brain breaks
To explore the biological reasons behind brain breaks irrespective of the age of an individual, we shall consider the functioning of the amygdala in learning. In simpler terms, when the bucket of our brain is full of instructions, and concepts, and becomes overloaded with context, it is necessary to allow the brain to recover by taking a break. This structured practice can promote self-regulation skills for children and also address areas like anxiety, ensuring complete mindfulness. Simultaneously, Leah L. Taylor studied the importance of self-regulating rooms in school, which outlines that they provide brain breaks and also act as an alternative place to create engagement.
Empirical results through research have shown that elementary school children, including preschoolers and kindergarteners, appear more settled and calm in class, in the activities of classes held just after recess.
Elisabeth Trambley made a research study to study preschooler students’ performance with and without breaks. The results of her investigation outlined that structured breaks can address inappropriate behavior and also assists in better performance.
It is important for the little learners or the caretakers to understand their need to refresh. Brain breaks, physical activities, and exercises between hours of learning allow the children to feel belonged and are heard, thereby making it possible for the educator to connect better and continue a barter of learning and fun with the children.
How to choose a brain break for little learners
One of the major purposes of brain breaks is to allow the children to transition from one activity or lesson to another mitigating monotony. A few things, an educator can consider apart from apps while choosing brain breaks for students of preschool or kindergarten are:
1. Structure of the intervals
While breaks have been deemed important through the insights above, it is also necessary to make sure that it does not spill over the upcoming lessons and leaves the children wandering off to their imagination a little too much. For Example, The break intervals could be timed like, a 5-minute break after every 20 minutes of learning, which would keep the kids occupied and motivated to complete their work.
2. Customisable Activities
Brain Breaks can be managed either individually or amongst groups, depending upon the major inclination of the classroom. In case of group brain breaks, it’s imperative that the group size remains manageable and isn’t too small or too huge, with activities that can be enjoyed amongst both extrovert and introvert pupils.
3. Involves Displacement too
Breaks that are based out of physical activities or involve exercises, allows oxygen to run through to the brain, catalyzing better learning. Accordingly, activities that are physical in nature, makes sure that all the children engage in it, it allows them to be a part of the team, not feel confined, and return re-energized to the lessons.
4. Calming and Energized
Pre-Planning: Having mentioned the critical features of choosing the brain breaks, we know that an educator has to pre-plan their day with the little learners, but the uncertainty of their nature can redirect the whole day without any hint.
Eclectic Break Plan
- So, it is important to have alternative options for each brain break.
- If the classroom feels like it’s waiting to break open, then the brain break should involve physical movement and more energizing activities.
- However, if it feels like the students are tired and in need of a break from the learning based activities, then choosing brain breaks that relieves that pressure without having to indulge them physically would help.
Brain break activities for kindergarteners
Activities are often effective for little learners even in areas like spatial learning. With several insights into the view, we shall now discuss a few brain break activities that could be useful for children in kindergarten and get an idea about how they unfold the child’s behavior.
1. Dice moves
In this activity, the teacher will be required to assign different moves to the six numbers on the dice. For example :
- Dog stretch
- Make a funny face
- Do the human wave step
- Sit and stand with a jump
- Make an imaginary 6 in the air with your right hand and simultaneously, a 9 with your left hand.
To start with, mentors can make a regulation list to facilitate easy grasping. The teacher will then be required to roll out the dice and call out the number to the classroom, after which the students will be required to do the steps within 5 seconds of the number being called out. If a pupil delayed their response, they may need to solve a simple question as a task. This would allow the children, especially kindergarteners to feel happy, will allow movement, and really seek the benefits of this break.
2. Touch it, to get it
This activity awards the little learners to excite in their brain breaks. The teacher here gathers multiple stationery items and chocolates into a big balloon and blows it. Not it is hung in the middle of the class at a height of around 3-3.5 feet so that little one can try reaching it.
Now, the teacher divides the class in the set of four people. Each group is called upon and the instructor asks them to try bursting the balloon with bare hands. If a group is successful, they can take the rewards. Otherwise, these are distributed equally among all the students.
3. Story giggles
When the students feel too tired to move around but seem to be in need of a brain break, this activity can be a good take-in. In this activity, the educator will begin with a story scenario that seems serious and unhappy, but the students will be asked to keep spinning it with their taste and characters to it and bring it to a happy ending eventually.
For example; Teacher: The rabbit who was eating his carrot peacefully, was now entrapped by the hunter’s net.
Student 1: He saw his old friend “Mr. Ant”, and asked him for help to escape the hunter.
Student 2: But Mr. Ant was so old that he had just lost all his teeth and was scared to tell Mr. Rabbit, so he called his daughter.
4. Move and see
This activity would require a major chunk of the effort on the educators’ part. Here, the teacher will be required to draw a complicated but comprehensible figure on a chart paper and color it. She will then divide the chart papers into 30 smaller rectangles by cutting them at angles.
These rectangles will be laid around on a big table in a random manner with no pattern, and the students will be called upon one by one. Each student will be allowed to move only 2 pieces and the class will have to figure out the image before the class ends, by rearranging all the rectangles and bringing it back to the figure.
Here, the students will have to use their memory to win this game. The class can be divided into groups of 5, and the educator will be required to have names of any 10 categories handy. The teacher will then announce the name of a category and each group will have to share names of any 5 things that would match that category.
For example The teacher announces the category to be BEACH, then the students will be required to name things like water, sand, shells, umbrella, sun, waves, sandcastle, bucket, food, basket, ice cream, etc. The group that answers correctly with 5 names under the category wins 1 point, and whichever group scores 15 points first, will be declared as the winner.
This brain break activity is oriented around physical movement and would re-orient the kids to study more effectively once it’s done. In this activity, the students will be divided into groups of 5, and are assigned five activities with numbers (1 to 5) assigned to it. The little ones need to first arrange them in the decreasing order of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, where the first activity will be performed 5 times, the second will be performed 4 times, and so on.
For instance: A group chooses to do 5-star jumps, 4 runs from the chair to the board, 3 situps, 2 human waves, and 1 normal jump. This would encourage collaborative effort and allow them the space to open up and reset themselves.
This activity is supposed to be super fun and creative and allows the students to have an innocent laugh in the end. To start with, the teacher will ask the whole class to form a human circle. Then they whisper something into the ear of the child beside her, slowly enough that nobody hears her.
This will continue throughout the circle, as each student passes the message to one another. At the end of the circle, the last student will be asked to share their message out loud, thereby letting fellow classmates enjoy a little laughter as to how the message got changed by the end of the game.
8. Breathe and fun
Through this brain break, we aim to engage the students in a rather calm and serene environment, allowing them to reset and leave behind the blues of the day. These exercises can help them to focus their energy on breathing and thereby develop a habit of consciously calming themselves when needed.
To start with, the teacher gives instructions to the children in a calm tone, while the lights of the classroom are dimmed and each student needs to close their eyes.
The teacher will engage the students into activities of controlled breathing, that’s kids friendly. For example She could instruct the kids to breathe in through their nose by mentally counting to 5, then hold their breath while they mentally count to 3, and then keep releasing until they reach 5, mentally. This would rejuvenate the class environment as a whole.
In this activity, the teacher will have very simple and basic information written on chits of paper, that will be about a fruit and a vegetable. All the chits will be placed in a container with
- Name of a fruit
- Name of a vegetable
- 5 different chits with 1 characteristic of that fruit on each
- 5 different chits with 1 characteristic of that vegetable on each
The students will then be divided into groups of 5 and given a time of 2 minutes to take out the chits, and arrange them so that the characteristics match the fruit and the vegetable they are placed under. This activity is meant to work on the social skills of the children, encourage collaborative work and engage them into getting inclined toward healthy food habits through this fun-filled brain break activity.
10. Swap Swap!
To start with, the mentor calls out a question about their favorites like “Whose favorite fruit is Mango?”. Student whose answer is: YES needs to raise their hands, and swap their positions. The same cycle repeats for say 10 questions.
After the activity, students are asked to continue in new places for the rest of the class. With this activity, the little ones get a chance to interact with new neighbors, forming new friends. Refreshing environment can make this activity a brain break.
11. Shuffle, shuffle, and settle
This can be both an individual and a group-based activity. Here the teacher will be required to take the students to a playground with enough space to allow movements. Now the students will be asked to move about and around randomly, and the educator will announce a number. The students will then have to regroup with the number of students announced by the teacher, within the next 5 seconds.
For Example: If the teacher announces 7, then the students will be required to quickly regroup into groups of 7 students. Any student who is left behind will be asked to step aside and help the teacher in identifying other outliers in the upcoming rounds of the game.
12. Lucky dip
This activity enhances the active listening skills of the students and helps them re-configure themselves. The educator here will be required to put 50 cards in the bucket, each with an activity written on it. The teacher will then call out any random roll number and the student will be asked to draw a card from the lucky dip and announce whatever is written on the card. Each student will have to repeat that activity 5 times.
For example, The card says “jump squats”, then the whole class will do 5 jump squats, or if the card says “moo”, then the class will moo 5 times. This activity allows movement among the kids and keeps their attentiveness renewed, and re-energizes them.
13. Indoor Treasure hunt
Finding out things can be exciting for little ones. This activity lets the little brain gets refreshed by unveiling secret things in the classroom. To start with, students are divided into groups of 10. Teacher arranges a few objects at different corners of the classroom which toddlers need to find out.
To start with, the mentor calls upon a group and starts a timer. Not within the stipulated time the team needs to find out these items. The same is repeated with other groups as well. For example: The educator could hide 2 erasers under a particular desk and ask the students to find it
14. Heads or tails
Brain breaks, as discussed, need to be refreshing and fun. This activity can act on enhancing the little one’s ability towards active listening and analysis of previous learning. Here, the teacher will be required to announce various statements, which might or might not be correct. Upon listening to the statement, the students will have to decide whether it’s true or false, individually.
If they think that the statement is true, then they will put a palm on their head, and if they think the statement is false, they will put a hand on their tail that is their bottom. For example, The teacher announces that “The sun rises from the west”, then students who find it to be true will touch their heads and the students who consider it false, will touch their bottoms, and the correct answer announced by the teacher will determine if it was actually “A HEAD or A TAIL”
15. Sensory bins
There will be two rounds to it. The first will be a “walkathon” and the second will be “touch me not”. For the “walkathon” the teacher will need 5 rectangular pieces of cardboard, and attach 5 different sensory objects on it, that can be easily walked on. This could involve, laying a bubble wrap, or sticking artificial grass, whereas the other two could have cotton and crushed paper, respectively.
Each student that recognizes their board correctly, will be promoted to the second round where the sensory materials will be placed in 5 different baskets with the eyes of the students blindfolded. These buckets could have rice, slime, water, furballs, etc in them. Again the students will be asked to recognize the objects they touched and the one that answers correctly shall be rewarded. The remaining students of the class are barred from making any noise to give any hints to the child in action, during the activity.
With the advancement of educational pedagogies, it may be also important to make students cohesive and ready for them. These skills need to be learned from the very beginning and incorporating brain breaks in the work or study plan of a preschooler is the first step towards it. In the above-mentioned lines, we have listed out a set of brain break activities for little learners. These are made sure based on valuable insights like research and other credible sources.
Check out the activities to see which of them are of better interest to your little one.
- Taylor, L. L. (2020). Self-Regulation Rooms within the School: The Impact on Behavioral Referrals and Self-Regulating Emotions.
- Trambley, E. (2017). Breaks in The Elementary Classroom and Their Effect on Student Behavior.