30. Brain Break Ideas

In this episode we explore a range of engaging classroom activities suitable for students of all ages. You’ll be introduced to a series of interactive exercises designed to foster emotional awareness, teamwork, and active participation in lessons

Activities Discussed:

  • Feelings FreezeLine and Blobs
  • Line Up By…
  • Cross the Line
  • Desk Charades
  • Clap, Clap, Tap
  • House Rock Tree
  • Four Corners
  • Stand Up or Sit Down

Carol’s Brain Breaks on TpT:



Carol: You're listening to the Counselor Chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling Essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in.

Carol: Hi, everyone. It's Carol. Welcome back to another episode of Counselor Chat. I'm so excited that you're here with me today. Well, if you remember, last week we talked about activities that we could use in our classroom lessons to really get kids engaged. And if you remember, I said that I would be back this week to share some more activities with you of ways that we can get our younger kids involved. I will admit I use some of these activities with my older kids, too, but I definitely think they are really appropriate for the little ones. So are you ready to have some fun today and learn some activities that will get your kids up and moving and ready to go for your counseling lessons? I hope you are. Let's dive in. So one of the first activities that I have for you is a little game called Feelings Freeze. This is where we kind of move around the room, and when I kind of shout out a feeling, all the kids have to kind of stand still and freeze, and they have to display that feeling that I shouted out by using their body and their face. So if I shout out angry, they have to put themselves kind of in an angry stance and their face has to have that angry look on it. And then I'll say okay. Move. And then once again, they move around, and then I'll say Happy, and they have to freeze and they have to have that happy look on their body and on their faces. And we do a couple of rounds of this and then I have them go back to their seats, the faces that they make or how they position their bodies. But it's a really great activity if we are talking about bullying or perspectives empathy with feelings. Because what I will ask them is, now that we've done this activity, what feelings would someone who is being bullied most likely feel? Or if you were to show empathy towards someone, how would that look? How would they feel? What feelings would they be experiencing? So it's a great way to incorporate those feelings into the activities and the lessons that you're going to be talking about. So feelings freeze. Another activity that we will be using this year is called Line and Blobs. And this is a really fun activity. In fact, you can do this with both the little guys and the bigger kids. This is kind of for all ages but line and blobs. And so I will say something like line up based on how strongly you feel. So if you kind of just a little teeny tiny bit like something, you're on this side of the room and you're on the other side of the room if you really agree or you really like this too. So it might be just to throw something out there. Chocolate ice cream. Okay, show me on the line how strongly you like chocolate ice cream. Not at all. Little teeny tiny bit. It's kind of in the middle or it is your fave and get on a line and so that's the line part. But then there's also the blobs. And so then I might say, well blob together if you have the same favorite dessert. And so then the kids kind of have to go around and find other kids who like the same dessert as them. So maybe it's chocolate chip cookies or maybe it's Doritos or maybe it's Takis but they're going to form little groups based on others who have the same interests and you could really create a variety of responses based on a lineup or blobbing together. But this is fun as kind of like a get to know you or who else shares the same ideas that I do or the same likes and the same interests. So I know that we are going to be starting our identity lessons soon and this is our warm up activity for our identity lessons. Now as we're talking about lining up, another activity that you can do is line up by. So maybe it's put yourself in rainbow order based on the color of your shirts and so they kind of have to form a line based on the rainbow with the colors of their shirts. So all the blues together and all the reds and all the yellows and all the greens and all the purples and all the white. And so we'll have this kind of continuum for that or maybe it's by their birth date or their birth month if they're really little or maybe it's just their age. If they're in kindergarten, you can say line up by how old you are. And so if they're four, they're one side, five, six, so you can see their ages. Or maybe you say line up by hair color, but there's always something that you can have them line up by. And with the older kids, I like to say in fact in middle school I did this a lot, line up by shoe size. Now the thing is they can't talk as they're lining up. They kind of have to communicate with nonverbal communication. So by making gestures or pointing or helping kids move each other. So line up by. This is a really great way to promote teamwork. And so when we're talking about building teams or teamwork and working together and getting along with one another, this might be an activity that we use with them. Another fun activity, once again, that can be used with any age is called cross the line. So cross the line if once again you like vanilla ice cream. If you don't like vanilla ice cream, don't cross the line. Cross the line if you feel that the character in the story felt really bad, cross the line if so you're getting them to express their thoughts and their opinions by just having them cross an imaginary line in the middle of the room. And you can use this in so many ways, shapes and forms just by having them express an opinion based on a discussion question that you want them to talk about. And then maybe as they cross the line, have them share their answer or their why, their reasoning with the person next to them, or if they say it on the other side of the line, they can talk and share their explanations as well. But cross the line if now, another fun activity that I like to do with the little guys is called desk charades. So I might have one person up front who will be my volunteer and he will shout out A. And this person will shout out oh, I want you guys to pretend that you are bowling. And so everyone stays at their seats and tries to pretend that they're bowling once again by not using any words. And then the person who came up with the idea of the charade that these people should be acting out gets to choose the person who is doing it the best. And then that person becomes the person to give the next this is what I want you to do. So it really is a lot of fun. We do things like a rocket ship, so I want to see your best rocket ship, or I want to see your best race car, or I want to see your best monkey or I want to see your best shark. So they give them something to really act out that they can do while sitting at their desk, because I don't really want them moving all over the place or hitting each other with their hands because they're moving around way too much. And if they're at their desk, they can stand at their desk. But I don't let them leave her space because I don't want like little arms to go swinging and hitting and all that kind of stuff. So we kind of stay in one general location as we're acting out whatever it is that we're supposed to be acting out. But it really is a great way for kids to understand communication and using our bodies and it is pretty fun just to get those little wiggles out. Now, if I'm talking to kids and maybe we're having a lesson on listening or following directions or something like that or anything that has to do really with study skills or being a good learner. I'll play a couple of different games. One of them is called clap, clap, tap. And this is really, really easy. It just starts with me up front and I clap or I tap or sometimes I even snap. But for little kids, snapping is really hard. And what I want them to do is to follow the little rhythm that I'm going to create. So I start with a clap, I give it a space, I let them copy it and then I might do clap, clap and I have them repeat it back to me. Then clap, clap, tap my shoulders and I wait for them. And then we keep it up. I just add one more thing to the next round. So if I tap, it might be my shoulders or my head, but I usually keep it to one of those two things. If they're bigger kids, I might also tap my knees so I could tap my head, tap my shoulders, tap my knees. But we just keep creating this pattern and seeing how long we can make this pattern go. And for bigger kids, I really try to speed it up a little bit so it's a little bit more challenging for them to really pay attention to what I'm doing. They really have to listen, they really have to look, they really have to be engaged in what we're doing to follow along. But clap, clap, tap. Another is called House Rock Tree. This is probably the easiest activity that you could ever do with kids and they just love it. I don't know what it is about this activity, but they love it. So there's three things that kids have to form with their bodies. Either a rock, which they kind of put their hands over their head and they crouch down to form a rock, or they stand like a pine tree with their arms out to the side so they kind of look like a tree or a house, where they put their hands in a triangle above their head to make it look like a roof. So we go, I'll call out house and they form the shape of a house rock, they form the shape of a rock or a tree and once again they form the shape of a tree. And then I just vary the pattern. So I might say house rock, tree, house tree, house rock. And they just have to follow along with me as I shout out what they're supposed to shape into and then to throw it a little curveball in there. I might say tree in the wind. And so they form the pine tree, but they kind of sway from leg to leg a little bit. So they're like shaking in the wind where I might say falling leaves. And this is where we use our hands to delete like a little twinkle and we just make an S from kind of like our head down to our waist. So we just make an S shape with our twinkling fingers and it's kind of like the falling leaves from our tree. So house rock tree. And once again, you can make this as fast or slow as you want, vary the speed. But it's just a way for kids to really have to listen and focus. And this is great if you're doing a really long activity and you notice that they're starting to kind of lose it a little bit, just say, let's do a quick round of the House Rock Tree and it really kind of refocuses them because they're paying attention and it does get those wiggles out. So one of my favorites, one of my kids favorites, and it really is the easiest activity to do. I also love to do with them four corners. And I'm sure you probably have played four corners yourself at one point in time, but in four corners, we just give them, we label each corner corner one, corner two, corner three, corner four. And each corner is kind of like an answer to a multiple choice question. So think of asking them a question and then if they want option A, they go to one corner, option B or answer B to the second, option three to the third, option four to the last corner. So it could be if you have a brother, go to corner one. If you have a sister, go to corner two. If you have a brother and a sister, or at least one brother and one sister, go to corner three. And if you are an only child, go to corner four. So there's always four answers to go along with your four corners. If you can only think of two, just have them go to different sides of the room. But basically it's the same four corners. I also love to do with them, stand up or sit down. This is another thing, stand up if you agree with this choice or sit down if you agree with this option. So it's a two option thing, but they stand up for one or they sit down for another. And if you have three options, three choices, you can do another one of my favorites, stand up, sit down, or cluck like a chicken is what we like to call this. So option one could be let me think of a good question here for you. Stand up if you like playing in the sand. Sit down if you prefer playing in the snow or cluck like the chicken, if you would rather be inside and not play outside. So you could see the difference of what kids prefer just by asking them these questions. And the kids really love to see who's going to stand up, who's going to sit down, and of course, who is going to cluck like a chicken. And so I usually try to have the cluck like a chicken. Be the one that maybe not many kids will choose, but you never know. But it really is a fun game for kids to play. Anyway, these are just a few activities that you can do with your students to kind of get them up and moving and that are really good exercises for your we little loves. I mean, you could also, like I said, do them with your older kids as well. And a lot of your older kids probably would really enjoy these as well. But these are really great for the little loves and they don't take a lot of time. They're easy to learn and it does get kids up and moving. And when they're up and moving and they're doing things and then you settle them back down, they're really going to be a little bit more active in the activities that you're doing with them. So I hope these are helpful. If there's more that you have that you use, send them along to me because once again, I will share them out with other people as well. Anyway, until next time, I hope you guys have a great week.

Carol: Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the Show Notes and@counselingsentials.org Podcasts. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind to leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.

Carol: Want to connect?

Carol: Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials. Until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.