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Brain Breaks for Secondary Students

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When I moved to my current school the department chair made it clear that we should “teach bell to bell.” I understand the logic in this, and sometimes class does last exactly 50 minutes. But if EVERY teacher taught bell to bell EVERY period, students would never have time to give their brain a break. I think it’s okay to give students a few minutes break here and there. I’m not suggesting let them sit on their cell phones, there are some other options! Below is a list of brain breaks you can try with high school students.

WAYS TO GIVE SOME STUDENTS SOME DOWN TIME:

  • BRAIN TEASERS- Here are a few from scholastic or you can check out a book from your school library.
  • LOGIC MAZES- I put these up on the board and have students try and work through them.
  • HEAD DOWN AND BREATHE- Have your students do nothing for 2 minutes. It’s relaxing!
  • PLAY A SONG- Make sure to type in “clean playlist” on YouTube so you can avoid songs with bad language.
  • COME UP WITH A HANDSHAKE- with your shoulder buddy
  • ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
  • THUMB WRESTLE
  • YOUTUBE CLIP- Here are some great science options!
  • PRESSURE POINT MASSAGE- Here are a few options on your hands.
  • WOULD YOU RATHER- Here are some sample questions (scroll down to high school)
  • METAL PUZZLES- I find the small metal puzzles at the dollar store, or they can be purchased on Amazon. They come with 2 pieces that students have to twist and turn to figure out how to separate.
  • TIC TAC TOE- do on the back of your notes page
  • WALL SQUATS
  • WALL COLORING- Hang some coloring pages on the walls and allow students to color for a few minutes during down time.
  • GRAFFITI WALL- If you aren’t familiar with graffiti walls, check out this blog post from We Are Teachers.

WAYS TO KEEP STUDENTS WORKING WITH A PICK-ME-UP:

  • QR CODES- Use a QR code generator to add QR codes to your activities. You can link to youtube clips, virtual labs, or interactive games.
  • SCAVENGER HUNT ACTIVITIES- You can have students complete an ecology scavenger hunt outside or a lab safety classroom scavenger hunt at the beginning of the school year.
  • CARD SORTS– I have students work on these with their shoulder buddy to review new concepts.
  • CLOCK PARTNER DISCUSSIONS- When you allow students to pick a partner to work with, they tend to pick the same person every time. Have them set up clock partner so you can change up who they work with. (If you Google “clock partner worksheet” you can find a ton of free examples). Then you just tell students “go work with your 9:00 partner.”
  • QUIZLET LIVE OR KAHOOT– If you have computers or cell phones available, these two review games are always really fun.
  • WALKING WORKSHEET- Post worksheet questions on the walls around the room and have students walk around the room while they complete the questions.
  • ANIMAL LIVESTREAMS- Have students take a short break between working and have them watch an animal livestream on the board. Here is a list of options.

Remember, it’s OKAY to give your students a quick breather! Have any other activities to suggest? I’d love to hear them in the comments!


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Hi, I'm Becca!

I help busy science teachers get your prep back by providing you time saving lessons, labs, and resources.

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