Many teachers have encountered a moment in their classroom when their students are just DONE. Teachers can easily recognize the signs when students have reached the point of mental exhaustion. In my own experience as a teacher, those signs became a warning that I had to do something to get my students back on the path of learning. Luckily, available research on the science of learning shows that the best way to avoid those moments of mental exhaustion is by incorporating intentional learning shifts- better known as Brain Breaks.
When brains become overworked no new learning can happen, so by incorporating Brain Breaks teachers are able to provide their students with opportunities to re-energize. In my classroom, I began incorporating Brain Breaks into the daily agenda. Every class started with an overview of the daily agenda. Students knew exactly when their “break” would occur. Our Brain Breaks were never disruptive to the teaching schedule, as they always occurred as a transition between activities. The breaks also did not require a lot of time, typically less than 3 minutes would be dedicated to the learning shift.
I used a variety of Brain Break types- physical, mental, and mindful activities that would be complementary to the learning activity and my student's learning needs. One way I incorporated physical Brain Breaks was by using two Lesson Activities in the Snowflake App. In one Zone we had a Cards lesson activity with various movements/exercises written on the Cards and in the second Zone a Spinner lesson activity with numbers 1-10 in each segment. Students would take turns flipping a Card to reveal the movement/exercise, then would use the Spinner to select the number of repetitions. I always participated alongside my students and I know that it helped me re-energize as much as it did them!
There are several Brain Break Lesson Activities published in the NUITEQ Snowflake Community. These Lesson Activities all include lesson plans with suggested ways to incorporate Brain Breaks and links to additional resources on the benefits of intentional learning shifts.
Disco Dancing Spinner - NUITEQ Snowflake Lesson Activity
For physical Brain Breaks, check out this Disco Dancing Spinner lesson activity. Add your own favourite music tracks for a quick way to get your students moving and grooving! Or try the Exercises Cards lesson activity. Students can flip the card to reveal an exercise to complete. Add a timer or give your students a select number of repetitions to complete.
Mindful Breathing Groups - NUITEQ Snowflake Lesson Activity
A great way to incorporate mindfulness into your Brain Break schedule is this Mindful Breathing Groups lesson activity. A provided anchor chart describes each breathing exercise or teachers can edit to include their own preferred mindfulness activities.
Doodle Cards - NUITEQ Snowflake Lesson Activity
For students who may need a mental shift, this Doodle Cards lesson activity gives instructions on silly sketches. Will they draw Godzilla baking cookies on the moon? Or maybe a queen skateboarding in Paris?