In my third grade classroom, I can always tell when my students just need a break! Maybe it is to get them fired up, calmed down, or simply just to transition to a new activity. School days are long for our students and we expect a lot from them. Including brain breaks into the day can really change the classroom environment and call essentially make kids more focused and work harder. Brain breaks should not be an "addition" to class schedule, but should be implemented when necessary. I don't schedule breaks when I'm doing my weekly lesson plans. I usually just "read" my students and we take a brain break when they seem to need one. I am not sure if this is the best because I've done some reading that students should take a break every 30 minutes. However, in my classroom, I keep my students very busy and we do a lot of moving around the room all day, which makes sense for me to watch and notice when my students seem disengaged.
In the mornings, I like to get my students moving right away. After morning announcements we do a quick clap once above your head, once in front of your belly button, once in front of your toes, then high five a classmate and have a seat! This gets students awake and ready for the day! If we need a fast break later on in the day, I refer to different versions of this like clap twice above your head, twice above your belly button, twice in front of your toes, hands on hips, turn around, etc. This kids back on track and ready to focus with a few quick and simple movements.
I've recently become interested in mindfulness in the classroom. One of my favorite resources for brain breaks in GoNoodle. www.gonoodle.com This website has AMAZING engaging breaks for my third graders. We even have a classroom reward for a student to choose a GoNoodle brain break. My students enjoy the fast and dancing ones, but GoNoodle has great videos in many content areas. For example, there are some great skip-counting songs and pattern songs for math. This makes for embedding learning right into the break! Bonus!! Back to my thoughts on mindfulness....GoNoodle has many breaks for focusing and practicing calming down/mindfulness activities. We just finished up our IREAD assessments this week, and before each one we did one of the mindfulness activities. I had to explain to the kids that yes, they may feel a little weird doing some of the breathing exercises and movement exercises, but if they focused on them, then it would ultimately help them focus. My hope is to include more of these focus activities to help my kids feel less awkward doing them because I feel that being aware of their breathing, minds, and focus will ultimately help give them strategies to refocus on their own in the future.
I am a huge believer in providing breaks in the classroom. We push and challenge our students so much throughout the day that sometimes we forget that they are KIDS! They need some fun and laughter too. My opinions are that even though brain breaks may take a few minutes from teaching time, the benefits of having students engaged longer and focus longer after taking a break far outweigh the time lost.
I do have lots of questions about when and where to implement brain breaks. As for right now, I've just been noticing and reading my students for when they seem to need a break. I am wondering if I should start planning breaks when I lesson plan. I'd love to read your comments on HOW and WHEN you provide breaks for your students too! #inelearn
Thanks for reading! Now take a break then come back and write me a comment! I bet your comment will be better after taking a few moments to think and give your brain a break!