13 Fun Movement Breaks For Elementary Students

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

As students transition from kindergarten to elementary, there are certain expectations put on them regarding how they should behave, and study in a class. It is very common to see that students especially elementary students tend to lose focus and become bored while attending a class. One of the reasons behind this is the long sitting hours in the classroom, which makes them lazy and easily distracted. 

Another factor leading to this behavior is the short attention span of elementary students which is about 5 to 7 minutes and that is below the ideal attention span for this age group[1]. In view of this, it becomes quite important for teachers to look for some enriching ways that can captivate their attention and ignite their curiosity to learn and actively participate in the class.

Physical activities like movement breaks or brain breaks have shown a positive effect[2] on attention and on-task behavior in a classroom setting. Educators can create an effective learning environment by incorporating movement breaks during their lessons. In the following section of the article, you’ll discover how movement breaks can transform the whole learning experience along with some thrilling movement breaks that can easily blend with the curriculum.

Significance of movement breaks for elementary students

Increased sitting hours can lead to sedentary behavior in students that can make them feel lethargic, and sluggish impacting negatively on their overall wellbeing. Introducing movement breaks engages them and shifts their focus from boredom to being involved actively in the classroom creating an optimal learning environment. The following are some major arguments in favor of movement breaks:

  1. Physical health: Movement breaks provide children the chance to move about, which is essential for their growth and general well-being. The movement of the body increases heart rate and blood circulation which regulates physical health. Besides, it improves motor abilities, encourages improved posture, and lowers the chance of health problems linked to sedentary lifestyles.
  2.  Cognitive Function: Movement breaks enhance cognitive performance. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and oxygen levels, which improves memory, focus, and attention span. Additionally, physical activity encourages the production of neurotransmitters and endorphins, which elevate mood, lessen stress, and enhance general cognitive abilities[3].
  3. Increased Focus and Engagement: Young learners who sit down for long amounts of time tend to become restless, bored, and lose focus easily. By giving kids an opportunity to move and reset their attention, movement breaks can help recharge their brains and approach their academic tasks with renewed energy along with increased focus and engagement[4]
  4. Social and Emotional Development: During movement breaks, students get the chance to socialize with one another. They can take part in cooperative games, team-building exercises, or group activities that encourage communication, teamwork, and good peer relationships. Movement breaks are a beneficial way to express oneself, control one’s emotions, and maintain emotional balance.
  5. Improved Learning Environment: Including pauses for physical activity in the daily schedule fosters a diverse and healthy classroom environment stimulating active involvement and accommodating various learning styles. Students’ motivation, energy, and enthusiasm for studying increase, which improves academic achievement and fosters a passion for lifelong learning.

Engaging movement breaks for elementary students

By providing a break from sedentary behavior and creating an effective learning environment, movement breaks support holistic development and a positive attitude toward learning. Listed below are some engaging movement breaks to promote active learning and combat boredom. 

1. Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks

Tell the class to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart and their arms at their sides. They jump when you signal, extending their legs shoulder-width apart and lifting their arms overhead. Then they leap back to the beginning. To increase their heart rates and give their bodies more energy, repeat this action in a regular fashion.

2. Animal Walks

 Animal Walks

Give each student a different animal to emulate (such as a bear, crab, frog, or penguin), and have them do so. Students can, for instance, waddle like a penguin, leap like a frog, scurry sideways like a crab, or crawl like a bear. As they walk around the classroom or other designated areas, encourage them to investigate the distinct behaviors and traits of their allocated animal.

3. Dance Party

 Dance Party

Play uplifting music to incite a vibrant and animated mood. Encourage pupils to have fun and dance freely while utilizing their own dancing styles and skills. Students may express themselves, let off steam, and have fun while moving to the beat of the music during this movement break.

4. Simon Says

Simon Says

Engage students in a game of Simon Says, where they must listen carefully and follow instructions. Incorporate various movement commands, such as “Simon says touch your toes,” “Simon says hop on one foot,” or “Simon says do three jumping jacks.” This activity promotes listening skills, coordination, and following directions while encouraging students to be active.

5. Yoga Poses

Yoga Poses

Introduce students to simple yoga poses that promote flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Guide them through poses such as downward dog, tree pose, or child’s pose. Encourage proper breathing techniques and mindfulness during the practice to help students calm their minds and stretch their bodies.

6. Stretching Routine

Stretching Routine

Lead students through a series of stretching exercises that focus on different muscle groups. Include movements like reaching for the sky, touching toes, stretching arms across the chest, or twisting the torso. This stretching routine helps students relieve tension, improve flexibility, and prepare their bodies for focused learning.

7. Balloon volleyball

Balloon volleyball

To divide the field, set up a temporary net or use a rope. Students should be divided into teams and given a sizable, lightweight balloon. Tell them to cooperate in order to pass the balloon over the net without it touching the ground. In a fun and interesting way, this exercise encourages cooperation, coordination, and physical activity.

8. Freeze Dance

 Freeze Dance

Play music and let the pupils sway about the space while they dance. Students must remain in place until the music starts playing again if it stops suddenly. The combination of dancing, active engagement, and surprise in this movement break keeps students interested and tests their ability to manage their motions.

9. Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

Use various classroom or outdoor furniture and things to set up a little obstacle course. Include exercises like zigzagging around cones, dodging obstacles, balancing on predetermined areas, or crawling under tables or chairs. The obstacle course can be completed by students individually or in groups, encouraging movement, coordination, and problem-solving abilities.

10. Toe taps

 Toe taps

Assign kids a beat or rhythm to tap their toes to. To establish the tempo, you can clap, play music, or even utilize a drum. Students can practice coordination, rhythm, and timing by tapping their toes individually or collectively.

11. Stretch Band activities

Stretch Band activities

Hand out stretch bands or resistance bands to the students and walk them through a variety of activities. The bands can be stretched above, pulled apart to train the muscles in the upper body, or stepped on and raised to work the legs during these exercises. To increase strength and flexibility, exhort pupils to perform the exercises with the right form and technique. Students can increase their body awareness, joint mobility, and muscular strength using stretch band activities.

12. Brain Break dancing

Brain Break dancing

Introduce a little dancing routine to your kids created expressly as a brain break. Exercises like crossing the midline or bilateral coordination drills that involve both sides of the brain can be incorporated into the program. This exercise improves attention, stimulates synaptic connections, and energizes the brain for future learning.

13. Hula Hooping

Hula Hooping

Provide hula hoops and allow students to explore different hula hooping techniques and tricks. They can practice spinning the hoop around their waist, arm, or leg, or try more advanced moves like twirling or tossing the hoop. Hula hooping promotes coordination, core strength, and balance while offering a fun and engaging movement experience.

Incorporating these movement breaks into the daily routine allows elementary students to reap the benefits of physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social interaction, and overall well-being. 


Finally, primary children’s brain breaks or movement breaks are crucial tools for fostering their physical health, cognitive performance, attention, social connection, and general well-being. Teachers may create an atmosphere that supports the various needs and learning preferences of their students by introducing movement breaks into the daily schedule.

Prioritise including movement breaks in the primary school curriculum to enable pupils to succeed academically, socially, and physically. We can design educational experiences that nourish the complete kid and prepare them for success in all facets of life by valuing and including movement.


  1. Asprilia, Tioni & Qodariah, Laila & Purba, Fredrick. (2020). First Grader’s Attention Span During In-Class Activity. GUIDENA Jurnal Ilmu Pendidikan Psikologi Bimbingan dan Konseling. 10. 144-150. 10.24127/gdn.v10i2.3151. 
  2. Ruhland, S., & Lange, K. W. (2021). Effect of classroom-based physical activity interventions on attention and on-task behavior in schoolchildren: A systematic review. Sports Medicine and Health Science, 3(3), 125-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smhs.2021.08.003
  3. Basso, Julia C. and Suzuki, Wendy A. ‘The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review’. 1 Jan. 2017 : 127 – 152.
  4. Malyszek, Marissa, “Impact of movement breaks on student focus” (2022). Master’s Theses. 160. https://digitalcommons.cortland.edu/theses/160

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