Brain breaks for home-schooling
Super quick activities to help kids "reset" and stay focussed when learning at home
When kids are learning and working hard for extended periods of time, it can be really helpful for them to have a quick break between lessons or subjects to keep them engaged. We've put together some easy brain break ideas and inspiration for you to use with your child or children at when doing school from home. These ideas should work well with single or multiple children, although may not work as well with bigger groups.
Rainbow Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of colours and challenge your children to search the house and yard to find an object to match each colour.
Another spin on this idea is to write a list of descriptive words like soft, warm, bouncy, wet, tough, broken etc. Challenge your kids to search the house and yard to find an object to match each description.
Play-doh / Lego Building Challenge
Set a five minute timer and challenge your children to make something using lego or play-dough (or anything else for that matter).
Find a collection of brain teasers or mind puzzles and see how many your children can do in five minutes. There are plenty of good websites or books with brain teasers available.
Try these lolly challenges or come up with your own ideas:
Using lolly snakes like these ones, see how long they can be stretched without breaking.
Jelly Lolly Matchstick Towers
Using lolly jubes or raspberries like these, along with matchsticks, see who can build the tallest tower in a time limit.
Long Lasting Lifesaver
Using lifesavers like these, see who can make this last the longest while sucking it.
Place a selection of random items on a tray. Place the tray in front of your children and give them thirty seconds to study them and remember them. Then, take the tray away and wait another thirty seconds. Then give them a piece of paper and pen each and see how well they're able to remember everything on the tray. Try it with more items as they figure out handy memory tools.
Print out a sheet with one hundred or more interesting words, including a good range of standard words (like a, is, to, the, at, in, on, for, my, their etc.). Cut them all out and jumble them up. Give each child a selection of the words and see what funny poem or sentence they can make up. Once the poems are complete, take turns to read them out and laugh at the sillyness!
Pass on the Poetry
Follow the instructions at the link below for a fun brain break idea. Each child starts with a piece of paper and writes the first line of a simple rhyming poem. Then everyone passes their piece of paper to the next person in the circle. The process repeats but when the paper is passed it must be folded over at the top to ensure only the last line is showing (so the next player can rhyme with it). After everyone has had a go or two, then take turns to read out the poems and enjoy!
This home-made variant of scattegories is simple to play and is a great way to stretch the brain. It works well with one child or many children and if you've got a sheet of categories ready to go, it'll only take a few minutes to play a few rounds. Read the full instructions here to learn how to play.
Kids love to throw stuff and they love a good challenge. Inventing any kind of "throwing something at a target" challenge can be a great way to pass the time, increase focus and increase hand-eye coordination. Whether it is throwing a ball into a bucket, a beanbag onto a target or a ring onto a stick - this can be a really easy brain break for your children.
Here are a few ideas:
The internet is full of free resources for activity pages - colouring, puzzles, educational, mazes and more. Some are definitely better than others so choose wisely. Kids often find these to be different to normal "work" as well as being achievable to complete and fun to do. These activity sheets could compliment the other learning tasks for the day or just be something completely unrelated - just for fun! We suggest googling "free kids activity sheets" to start or try this link.
I have fond memories of playing "the floor is lava" around the house with my siblings when I was growing up. We'd generally pick a spot in the house or yard to start and then set the target location we would need to try to reach without touching the ground/floor. Sometimes we would work individually to race to the end and other times we would work together as a team. This can work really well as a quick no-prep brain break. Tell your child/children the challenge and the rules and give them a time limit to complete it in. Make sure you allow a minute at the end to return any moved furniture to it's proper location too.
Music Dance Party
Using music as a brain break is as easy as it comes. Especially great for kids who love music, dancing and movement - cranking out a few of their favourite songs while they dance can be a great way to get them to take a quick break and reset, ready for the next task.
Exercises + Stretches
Physical movement, stretching and exercise are all perfect for a quick brain break. If your children also play sports, you could come up with a stretching program that helps them prepare for that. If they're younger, they might like to try something like Cosmic Yoga. If they're competitive, then set them some challenges or goals (ie. 100 push-ups). There are plenty of ways to use exercise and stretching as a simple brain break while home-schooling.
Some children just love to draw - why not let them take a quick "doodle break"? It could be completely free choice drawing time, or with more structure. You could set them a drawing challenge or give them a theme for the day where they could combine a few different "doodle break" drawings together.
Keep up a balloon
For this one, all you need is a balloon. Your children can take up the time-based challenge to see how long they can keep the balloon in the air for - if it touches the ground, the time stops.
Puzzles can be a great brain break for children while home-schooling. Have one big one going for the whole day or use smaller puzzles for younger children.