19 brain breaks to help kids with focus

Brain breaks can help kids clear their minds, move their bodies, and stay more engaged in learning. Here’s a list of brain breaks kids can do at school or at home.

It can be hard for kids to pay attention and stay on track — especially kids who learn and think differently. Kids with ADHD in particular may struggle. Brain breaks and games can help kids focus by reducing frustration and stress.

Here are 19 breaks and games you can try both in school and at home.

  1. Create a sensory path using chalk on a sidewalk or blacktop.

  2. Make a slideshow of GIFs. Ask kids to imitate the movements in the GIFs. 

  3. Create a YouTube playlist of mesmerizing videos.

  4. Try activities from a sensory diet.

  5. Do some PE warm-ups, like toe touches, arm circles, and jumping jacks. Adapt as appropriate.

  6. Have a dance party. (You might use a channel like Kidz Bop for younger kids. For older kids, look for non-explicit versions of their favorite songs.)

  7. Play charades.

  8. Tell some jokes, or have the kids tell some jokes. (Why are teddy bears never hungry? They’re always stuffed!) 

  9. Take a movement break or play a game on GoNoodle

  10. Invite kids to do some animal walks.

  11. Do some body-brain teasers. For younger kids, challenge them to rub their bellies while tapping their heads. For older kids, ask them to wink with their right eye while snapping their left fingers. Then switch.

  12. Create a low-cost, sensory-friendly chair for kids to move around in.

  13. Send kids on a scavenger hunt — it can be as simple as having kids find an item that starts with the letter t or something that is soft.

  14. Do yoga or chair yoga.

  15. Try out Google Quick Draw

  16. Invite kids to explore a virtual calming corner.

  17. Play traditional games like Simon Says and Rock Paper Scissors.

  18. Try a breathing exercise like “take 5 breathing.”

  19. Do some mindful coloring or drawing.

Tips to help get you started

  • Keep brain breaks to under 5 minutes. 

  • Use a countdown timer so kids know when it’s time to get back to schoolwork.

  • Ask kids to share their favorite brain breaks.

  • Create a master list of brain breaks. Every day pick two or three that kids can choose from.

  • If you’re an educator, explore this bank of brain breaks to use in the classroom.

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