Monday, April 5, 2010

Engage Students in a Minute with Energizing Brain Breaks

It's hard to keep students engaged for the duration of a class period, no matter the length.  Teachers have some degree of influence based on their lesson plan, systems and procedures, and management skills.  Sometimes, though, teachers and students just need a mental break to get them refocused and reenergized.  That's where Energizing Brain Breaks by David Sladkey comes in.

David, who shares his ideas and resources at Reflections of a High School Math Teacher, has put together 50 fun, simple activities that stimulate the brain and body.  They only take a minute or two, so they won't take over your entire class period; in fact, they'll probably help keep your classes on track!

Each brain break involves students getting up and moving around while performing a task that engages different parts of the mind.  You can use them to break up long block periods, for transitions, or to jump start a low energy group whenever it's needed. 

The book is divided into activities for individuals, partners, or a group, so it's very flexible.  My favorite example is Rocks, Paper, Scissors, MATH:

You can see more videos of the activities in action at the Energizing Brain Breaks blog, along with several bonus breaks not included in the book.  Of course, the fun isn't limited to math by any means, and I believe these will work in any classroom, regardless of subject or grade level.  If this can engage high school students, imagine how well it would work with elementary or middle school kids!

Most importantly, the breaks involve no or little cost, prep, or materials.  Just flip to a page in the sturdy book (printed on card stock with a spiral binding) and get started. 

If I haven't convinced you to pick up a copy yet, here's the kicker: 25% of the profits on the book go to getting copies of Energizing Brain Breaks to schools that can't afford it, and another 25% goes towards building schools in Angola through the organization RISE International

Finally, I have two copies of the book to give away!  In the book, you're encouraged to create your own brain break, so that's exactly what we're going to do.  Take a look at the activities on the Energizing Brain Breaks blog, then write your own 1-2 minute activity that engages the body and mind.  It can be an individual, partner, or group exercise just like the ones in the book.  Email your ideas to by 11:59 pm Sunday 4/11/10.  Next week, I'll post the ideas of the two winners along with any other good ideas that come in.  Good luck!

Buy Energizing Brain Breaks