We are lucky to live in a time when students can continue learning remotely even when schools close. Virtual learning offers many advantages and opportunities for students, but staring at a computer screen all day can also create health problems such as vision impairments and obesity. Therefore, it is more important than ever to get students up and moving throughout the day. Here are five virtual brain break activities to energize your students!
1. Math Brain Breaks
If you teach upper elementary, you likely work on multiplication facts constantly. Why not incorporate those facts into your brain break activities?
Start by putting your class in grid view on your video conferencing software so that you can see all of the students. Next, have your students push their chairs to the side and stand in front of their computers. Then, call out a movement exercise (such as jumping jacks) and a number (such as 6). In this scenario, students would call out the multiples of 6 each time they do a jumping jack (6, 12, 18, etc.). This is also a great way to integrate math into your remote instruction.
2. Dance Breaks for Students
I’ve taught many groups of students. One thing they all have had in common is that they LOVE to dance! Spontaneous dance parties are a great way to grab your students’ attention when teaching remotely. Create a fun, age-appropriate playlist on your iPad or Spotify. When you notice students are starting to get bored, turn on a song to catch their attention. Allow students to get up and dance while the song plays.
You can also turn your virtual dance party into a movement game such as freeze dance. When playing virtual freeze dance, put your students in grid view. Randomly pause the music several times. Each time you pause the music, students must freeze. If you catch any students still moving, they have to sit down. The last student standing wins the game.
3. Movement Brain Breaks
Virtual brain break activities that involve exercises should be a part of every online classroom. With schools closed, many students are not getting physical education. Incorporating exercises into your brain break activities and games will allow students to get some movement that is important for growth and development.
A fun way to incorporate exercises into your remote instruction is with a spinner. I have created a spinner using Flippity. Each spot on the spinner has a different type of exercise such as running in place, jumping jacks, and sit-ups. You can learn more about creating a spinner using Flippity in the video below.
Spin the virtual spinner to determine what exercise students will perform. Then, roll a die. Students must do the exercise spun for the number of times rolled. For example, if the spinner lands on “run in place” and you roll 2, students must run in place for 2 minutes.
4. Brain Break Games
A lot of the brain break activities you use in the classroom can easily be modified for a remote learning environment. For example, you can play charades using any video conferencing software. Instruct all of your students to put the videos in grid view so that they can see each other. Then, call on a student to act something out while the other students guess. Encourage them to act out something they are learning about such as a science or social studies term.
5. Virtual Scavenger Hunts
My favorite virtual brain break activities are ones that have to do with a scavenger hunt. I love virtual scavenger hunts because they can help with building community, get students laughing, or review an educational topic. If you are looking for virtual scavenger hunt ideas, this video has more than 20.
Incorporating virtual brain break activities into your online instruction will help students focus, reduce screen-related health problems, and make remote learning more fun. Virtual brain breaks are also a way for you to have fun with your students and get to know them even if you do not see them in person. If you’re looking for even more virtual brain break activities, be sure to check out the video below. It has five additional brain break ideas that are not in this post.