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7 Brain Breaks for High School Students

As a teacher, you will sometimes observe students having difficulty paying attention in class. In some cases, the students simply are restless, but other times they’ve probably had to study new and challenging concepts throughout the day and feel burned out. As their teacher, you are most effective when students can focus and understand your lesson. 

To increase attention during lessons, use these seven short, simple brain breaks to give your high school students time to recharge and refocus.

1. Criss-Cross Jacks

Numerous research studies show that exercises improve blood flow to the brain, which can help with focus and attention. You might not have enough space in your classroom to do full exercise routines, but simple movement exercises like criss-cross jacks might be just what you need to energize your students.

Students can stand beside their desks and require about two feet of space between them. To perform criss-cross jacks, ask your students to stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended to the side. Next, they jump and cross the left leg in front of the right and the left arm in front of the right. Jump again to return to the starting position. Now repeat but with the opposite arm and leg. Repeat the exercise 510 times.

2. Card Tricks

Card tricks might be a fun activity if you’re looking for a way to recharge students after a particularly challenging science or math lesson. Card tricks are a great brain break option because they entertain and amuse while inspiring creativity and problem-solving skills.

One simple but effective card trick you can try is the card-guessing game. Ask students to form groups, then call the first group forward. Reshuffle your cards, then divide them into four bundles. All the cards should be facing down. Pull the top card of each bundle and place it on the table. Ask a student to pick a bundle and predict the card at the top of the deck. Let all the students in the first group predict the cards before revealing the actual cards.

3. Would You Rather Game

Another fun and interactive game is the “Would you rather” game. Students form pairs and come up with would you rather scenarios to ask their partners. For example:

  • Would you rather never cut your fingernails or use only dog shampoo to wash your hair?
  • Would you rather live without your phone or a TV?
  • Would you rather spend an entire month alone or without a phone?

4. Quiet Ball Game

An effective brain break incorporates physical and mental activity and doesn’t require equipment or much time. A quiet ball game achieves all these and more. You’ll only need a medium-size ball to play a quiet ball game. The game’s goal is for students to pass the ball around without noise or dropping it. To make the game a little more challenging, you can ask the boys to pass to girls and vice versa. The student left holding the ball is the winner.

5. Freeze Dance

To conduct a freeze dance as a brain break for your students, play a tune, then intermittently pause the music. Any student who doesn’t freeze after pausing the music is out of the game. You can add flair to the game by adding more dance instructions. For example, you can ask students to dance like they have sore feet or just woke up. A few minutes of this dance will refresh the students and have them ready to learn.

6. Back Writing Game

The back writing game is another brain-break idea that is effective and fun. To perform a back writing game, ask students to pair up. Give one student in the pair a secret word. The other student should turn their back, and the other with the secret word will attempt to spell the word on the back. The one who guesses the secret word correctly is the winner.

7. Crosswords or Puzzles

Most people enjoy a challenge, and for your brain break, a crossword or a puzzle gaming activity might be just what your students need. If you have crossword, word searches, spelling pages, or sudoku games, distribute them amongst your students and give them time to challenge themselves by filling out the puzzles and sudokus.

 Final Thought

Try these seven short activities with your students to help them focus better during class!

Written by Steve Ndar
Education World Contributor
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