Moving to Improve: Using Brain Breaks in the Classroom

Get students up and moving by using these free brain break ideas perfect for students to use in the elementary classroom.

Hello Friend!

Did you know that students spend an average of 4-5 hours per school day just sitting in their seats?  Yikes! Some of our schools are limiting recess, reducing or even cutting PE classes, and putting a greater emphasis on test scores.  Active play is diminishing and being replaced with more study time. Yet science tells us that staying seated for too long has some major drawbacks for our students. It actually makes it harder for them to pay attention and learn.  

When we ask our students to sit still and pay attention for too long, their brain goes to sleep.  They naturally begin to fidget in order to give their body the movement it needs to keep their brain turned on.  We know we need them to pay attention in order to learn, so we’ve got to give them the opportunity to MOVE!

brain breaks in the classroom


Movement has the power to actually turn on the brain, energize and increase a person’s ability to focus. So while you may not be able to get outside for an extra recess, you can provide opportunities for movement throughout the day by implementing quick and fun Brain Breaks that will keep those brains turned on and ready to learn!

Today I’m excited to share with you some websites my students and I love to visit when we are in need of a good Brain Break!


GoNoodle is a free, research-based site filled with fun, quick, desk-side activities to get you and your students moving!   The site designed for long-term engagement as it encourages your students to earn points for their activity.

My students love dancing along to the the pop music videos, and they especially love watching as their teacher joins in!  I love that there is a whole section of videos on mindfulness where you and your students can together engage in activities that not only get you moving, but also work to boost confidence, enhance self-control and focus, manage stress and build compassion.  Who knew a little brain break could do all that?!

Take a look at all the categories of free brain break videos on GoNoodle:

go noodle catergories

Within each category there are multiple videos, take a peek at some of the videos in the Gross Motor Skills category:


Here is a sample of one of our favorite brain breaks  – POP SEE KO  (caution: you might not be able to get this song out of your head 😜)

GoNoodle offers a lot of short videos (many are just a minute or two), so it’s a site I like to visit if I’m looking to give my students a little break.  The site is always engaging to my friends! 

Adventure to Fitness

Adventures to Fitness is a super popular educational fitness program for kids that combines learning with movement. I love that the videos are common-core aligned and designed to be integrated directly into your curriculum.  Most are geared towards social studies, but there are also some great videos about the human body and health. 

The length of the videos range from 2-3 minute “Energizers” to 30-minute full length Adventures.  The 30-minute “Adventures” provide moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that can be used to meet weekly physical activity requirements and would be a great option for those indoor recess days.

adventure to fitness

Here is a teaser of a full length video Super Volcano where students head to one of the world’s largest volcanoes in the middle of Yellowstone National Park! This super volcano will soon be overdue for its next eruption and scientists need  their help to calculate when that might be! The students mission is to figure out how soon the Yellowstone super volcano will erupt while actively moving!

Cosmic kids is an awesome site filled with videos that help students develop their strength, balance and confidence while going on “yoga adventures”- stories told in yoga poses.   

Here is a class favorite brain break: Star Wars (The Force Awakens)  These adventure videos serve as perfect activity for inside recess.

My favorite series of videos on Cosmic Kids is called the Zen Den. All the videos here focus on helping students manage their feelings and focus on positive thinking strategies.  The movement isn’t only helping kids to keep their brain alert, it’s also working to improve mindset.

Zen Den videos

Yes You Can! is a mindfulness video where Jamie explains how doing something for the first time can be really tough! She says, “It can feel like we have a monster in our minds saying ‘you can’t do it!'” Jaime shares how to overcome the hard bit of doing something for the first time. “We can make the ‘I can’t’ monster disappear – just by saying “OH YES I CAN!”

In addition to videos you can stream, there are printables and some wonderful free lesson plans you can access.  I recommend downloading the free episode guide that Cosmic Kids offers. It’s a PDF of all the yoga adventures, links to the videos, plus plot summaries and each story’s message.  It makes it easy to quickly search for the video that fits your needs.

Here is a sample from the guide:

I hope you’ll take some time to explore these sites and see for yourself how easy and beneficial it can be to give your hard-working students Brain Breaks throughout the day!  

Do you use Brain Breaks in your classroom?  When do you implement them? What effect do they seem to have on your students?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and ideas on the topic!

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Brain Breaks in the Classroom


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