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Brain Breaks for Kids

“My neck feels like rotten spaghetti!”, exclaimed a 7-year-old during week five of Quarantine Homeschool.

Clocking in hours in front of a screen with his spine at a dubious angle.  The day started with a sort of heart-breaking show-and-tell at his Zoom morning meeting as kids struggled to unmute themselves and share various stuffies or sonatas.  Next, I side-coached him on math as he painstakingly typed answers into the laptop. Later, he learned some phonics from a video from his teacher, clicked his way through a story on-line and finally watched someone read aloud Maya Angelou’s, Caged Bird.  An inspired choice.

I mean in theory I know all that stuff about blood-flow to the brain and happy-endorphins that get released when we exercise. Neuroscientists and mindfulness experts agree that moving around can make us calmer, more focused, and happier too.  I just really forget to apply it here and now when we need it most.

These are some fun ways to move the body, connect with our kids through play, and take a break from the taxing virtual learning.  Although I love Blazer Fresh and Cosmic Kids, these brain-breaks are also screen-breaks.  While these will also be fun once playgrounds re-open, these are really to be done indoors because

Shake Those Sillies Out

What better way to do this than through music and rhyme?  Songs also give a structure to the break (“we can do three verses!”) before you head “back to school”!

As Raffi so aptly put it, sometimes you gotta “Shake, shake, shake your sillies out”.  Here’s how you can play it as a game. You can sing-along to the tune, or make up silly new words that combine different moves.

Down By The Bay

Travel this song across the floor.  Each time you hear a new rhyme, pause the music and act it out.  Or even better, have kids make up their own rhyme and then put it in motion.  (Did you ever see a cow, taking a bow? Did you ever see a duck, stuck in the muck? Did you ever see a wizard flying in a blizzard?  – You get it!)

Boom Chic A Boom

This song really lends itself to play.  I like to start playing around with different emotions and then move on to different styles.  Older elementary students even love coming up with the characters and leading the rhyme! (Peter Rabbit style! Trunchbull style!  Juliet style!). Encourage kids to use the full expression of their body and go really far. This one is great for social-emotional learning and can also be played as a fun guessing game too.

Hokey Pokey

Like Boom Chic A Boom, variations on Hokey Pokey put kids in charge with the characters they want to play around with. Superheroes can put their capes, masks and shields in.  Dragons get to put in scales, fire and tails. Kids can keep changing up the character too. It is the ultimate way to get into the body of a character for pretend play.

These games allow kids to free associate, release energy, and use their imagination.

Freeze dance

You know how to play this…but maybe add in some  with a wordless epic score (Think Jurassic Park, Rocky, Fantastic Mr Fox etc) from a movie they love.  Add scarves, balloons, flashlights to the mix and you’ll have a dance party in no time. Best part is, you can often walk away and let the underscoring continue informing their adventures.

Red Light Green Light

A classic playground game, but I like to play it where there is no destination in mind, and it is more reminiscent of freeze dance.  On the “Red Light”, you can transform. Watch the video to see what I’m talking about.

Follow the Leader

Take turns moving around the room in different ways. Let kids be the leader – these days it helps them to feel like they are in control of something!   Model silliness and risk-taking as you go out on a limb when it is your turn and do a really goofy move!

Balloon Toss –

I love to turn on relaxing music and also see how long we can keep the balloon up in the air.

Obstacle Course/Character Gym 

Kids can create a little circuit training for a favorite character, be it from Paw Patrol or a fable, kids love to make up exercises that give them more traits!

Sometimes it is helpful to use movement to chill out.  In this case, I recommend any of the following!

Animal Yoga

Yoga with a playful twist.  Kids can make up their own poses based on the animals they love.

Movement Story

Make up a new simple story and then strip away all the words and tell it just through movement!

Feather Balance – this works well with relaxing music and you can use a balloon or a scarf if you don’t have a feather handy.

Sculptures 

Kids mold each other (or you) into a statue!  Cue the relaxing music for this and have fun coming up with silly titles like “The Grumpy Butterfly” or riffs on characters they love from books or shows!

Hope this helps with all the spaghetti necks out there.  As with all these theater games, they are just springboards for your own imagination and play.  Also, the best is when the kids know the structure of a game, that they then play them on their own.  Please be in touch about your favorite brain break since we are all in this together for sure!

This article was repurposed from achildgrows.com. This was an awesome idea and share worthy read for kids to take a quick brain break.

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