Energizing and reigniting tired or busy brains
Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?
February 6, 2020
We have all been there, having to endure lengthy meetings or long class periods where there are limited opportunities to get up and move, challenging our abilities to stay focused. Dozing off and droopy eyelids can be a thing of the past by using Brain Energizers in your classroom. Merely incorporating a few Brain Energizers that get students up and moving every 20 minutes or so will refocus attention and energize, enthuse and reignite tired or busy minds. Your students will love you for them. Brain Energizers are quick 1- to 2-minute activities that help people focus and get energized for learning. These activities cross the midline of the body (a vertical line that divides the body into a left section and a right section). This action forces fresh oxygenated blood to the brain to enhance learning in all four lobes of the brain. Movement enhances the learning process by increasing circulation, reducing stress and enhancing episodic memory.
How to implement successful Brain Energizers:
- Set clear expectations and directions (what is going to happen, how long it will last, what is expected when it’s done, how to transition from activity to work again, etc.).
- Explain why you are doing it (we are strengthening our brain tissue every time we move and giving our brain a chance to sort the new information, increasing blood and oxygen to the brain, etc.).
- Learn from group experiences. Tweak your approach as it relates to the group you are working with.
- Find fun, simple ways to engage all students and yourself in the activities. Be sure to accommodate students with limited mobility.
- Just like any new technique used in our classes, having the instructor enthusiastically involved encourages buy-in from students.
Take a SIP of this: Brain Energizers for the classroom
Listed below are several easy Brain Energizers that can be incorporated immediately:
- Handshake Creations: Stand up, move around the room and in the time allotted greet as many people as possible, and each time you meet with someone create a new handshake.
- Finger Snatch: Stand facing your partner. Each person puts their right hand out in front of them and puts their left pointer finger in the palm of the other person. When the teacher yells “go” each person simultaneously tries to grab the other person’s pointer finger and pull their own pointer finger out of the palm of the other person.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors Math: Participants play rock, paper, scissors but instead of showing a rock, paper or scissors, each person shows a number (1-5). Both people quickly add up the two numbers, and the first to yell out the answer wins. Try also with multiplication and subtraction.
- Play music for a minute or two and have students march in place while touching opposite knee to hand or doing cross jacks where your arms cross in front of your chest while walking in place. They can also pretend to do criss-cross rope-jumping in place.
- Popsicle Sticks: Teacher or students write different movement activities (i.e., jumping jacks, arm circles, squats) on popsicle sticks. When it’s time for a movement break, students choose three to five popsicle sticks and lead the class through the activities while music is playing.
- Quick Hands: Students form pairs and stand across from each other with both hands on a desk. A soft object such as an eraser or beanbag is placed on the desk evenly between the players. Teacher or a selected student can be the leader. When the leader says “go,” partners try to grab the object before their partner. Rotate partners and leaders.
- Line Change: Form groups of three and stand in a line facing forward. When the teacher calls out a command (down, set or hike), the students change positions: down – first and last person change positions; set – first person goes to the end of the line; hike – all three students turn and face the other direction. The teacher can challenge students by calling out commands quickly.
Still thirsty? Take another SIP of this: Brain Energizers in the classroom
- Hannaford, C. (2005). Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head. Arlington, Va.: Great Ocean
- Kuczala, M., & Lengel, T. (2010). The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin
- Ratey, John J.,Hagerman, Eric. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little, Brown, 2008.
- Energizing Brain Breaks
- 10 Classroom Activities to Get Students Moving
- Learning in Motion
- Energizing Brain Breaks
- Take a Break – Teacher Tool Box
- Teachupsidedown: 50 Brain Breaks to Engage Students in the Classroom
- High School and College Brain Breaks
Visit the Well for more great ideas and resources for Strong Instructional Practices in your higher-education classroom.
Topics: Academics, Best practices, SIP, Student SuccessEdit this page