Three Brain Breaks to Refocus and Energize Your Students

Keeping elementary students engaged and focused can be a challenge. Try these simple games during morning meetings or as brain breaks throughout your day. Energize your students, while building community and strengthening social skills.


Copy Cat (10 mins)

To play this game students must be sitting in a circle. The game involves two important roles: The cat and mouse. A child is chosen to be the mouse and leaves the circle, so the cat can be selected in secret. The rest of the class watches as the teacher silently points to one student to play the cat. The cat will lead the whole class in a random combination of three continuous movements (in any order):

  1. Tapping both hands on knees
  2. Tapping both hands on shoulders
  3. Tapping both hands on head

The cat, followed by the whole class, begins tapping their knees. The mouse hears the game has begun and returns to guess who is the cat in the circle. The mouse makes three quick guesses, and then new players are chosen. Once your students are familiar with the game, they can create their own movements beyond those of the three listed above.


The Laughing Paper (5-10 mins)

The teacher drops a horizontal sheet of paper, and lets it float to the floor. All students must laugh while the paper drifts to the ground. When the paper lands, the laughing immediately stops. The goal of this game is to start and stop laughing at the exact same time. Repeat the process using other actions like clapping, blowing, stomping, or snapping.


Alphabet Story

In this game, students work to tell a collaborative story. The first person starts the game with a story prompt beginning with the letter ‘A’. This person can build their part of the story using one or more sentences. The next person picks up the story from where it left off, but their first sentence must start with the letter ‘B’. The game continues until all students have had an opportunity to contribute. Rate your story and discuss ways you can improve it next time you play!

Ex. All the lights in the house were off. I heard a strange noise coming from outside my window. But the rest of the house was still and quiet. Crack!” I ran to the window, and noticed…  etc.

Can’t think of your own starters? Try these to get started:

  • At the beach, I found a very special seashell. I reached down and carefully picked it up.
  • At my birthday party last year, I received a very peculiar present. It all started when …


These three games are guaranteed to actively engage your students and get them laughing! Energizing games like these make great brain breaks throughout the day. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

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Eve Hunt

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