Brain Breaks

  • Situation

    We have many double periods of math throughout the week. It makes it very difficult for some of my students to continue attending. What can I do to help them (and me) get through these times?

  • Summary

    Taking brain breaks throughout the day can help your students re-energize and re-focus after long periods of activity in the classroom. Typically, brain breaks are something physical that can be done right at each student’s desk.

    You can determine how often your students need brain breaks by using the age of your students. Typically, students are able to focus for the length of time that equals their age, plus two minutes. So a group of 12 year olds can sustain focus for 14 minutes. You may choose not to do brain breaks at this interval, but it is a reference to consider.

    Brain breaks can be found online and in commercial books. You may also choose to create your own brain breaks or allow your students to brainstorm break activities.

  • Definition

    Brain breaks are mental breaks designed to help students stay focused and attend. The brain breaks get students moving to carry blood and oxygen to the brain. The breaks energize or relax. The breaks provide processing time for students to solidify their learning (Jensen) (adapted from Alison Newman)

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Ability to follow a model and or directions.

  • Process

    1. Create a list of brain breaks you will utilize throughout the day. Use commercial books, internet resources, or devise your own. Consider having students help create brain breaks for the class.

    2. Based on the age of your students, decide how often you will provide brain breaks keeping in mind many students attend their age plus 2 minutes. So a 6 year old might be able to demonstrate sustained attention for 8 minutes.

    3. Begin providing Brain Breaks throughout your instruction.

  • Documents and Related Resources



    This resource was authored by Watson Institute Special Education Consultant, Katie Bentz, M.Ed.

    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.