If you’re a teacher or parent of kids learning remotely, scheduling regular breaks throughout the day can help boost focus, concentration, and motivation, improve self-regulation, avoid power struggles, and help with anger management. If you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids, this post has tons of quick and easy ideas you can facilitate while teaching remotely!
What Are Brain Breaks?
Also known as ‘mental breaks’, brain breaks offer a short break during periods of intense focus to help reduce feelings of frustration, stress, or anxiety, while also improving focus, attention, and retention. In order to be successful, brain breaks must be implemented before a child begins to struggle. Younger kids may require breaks from their school work every 10-15 minutes, whereas older kids can often work for 30+ minutes at a time. Certain learning delays and challenges like ADD, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and autism may require additional brain breaks throughout the day – it’s all dependent on the individual student and the type of material he or she is working with.
Why Are Brain Breaks Important?
Working for long periods of time can lead to feelings of fatigue, stress, and frustration, particularly for younger children and those who struggle with attention, hyperactivity, and impulse control. Proactively scheduling regular 5-10 minute breaks allows a child’s brain to rest before fatigue and frustration sets in, and has been shown to:
- Improve attention and focus
- Increase retention of material being taught
- Improve emotional regulation
- Reduce behavioral problems
- Increase motivation
17 Virtual Brain Breaks For Kids Of All Ages
If you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids, we’ve got tons of ideas to inspire you! Keeping kids motivated when they are learning remotely can be challenging, but with a little planning and preparation, there are tons of simple ways to break up the monotony of staring at a screen all day long. The trick is to enforce breaks before a child’s attention and focus starts to wane to stay ahead of feelings of fatigue and frustration. We’ve included a mix of energizing and calming virtual brain breaks for kids below, allowing you to pick and choose activities based on what your children/students need at regular intervals throughout the day.
1. Musical statues
If you’re looking for easy virtual virtual brain breaks for kids, musical statues is aways a good option. Pump some tunes, let your students dance off some energy, and periodically stop the music and yell ‘FREEZE!’ and see who follows your directions. This is a great way for everyone to blow off some steam – teachers included!!!
2. Simon says
Kids love this game, and it’s a great way to help them shed excess energy when they are cooped up inside staring at a computer screen. Have each child stand up in an area where they have room to move around, and then lead them through different gross motor movements: ‘Simon says stand on one leg’, ‘Simon says do 3 jumping jacks’, ‘Simon says hop like a bunny’, etc. At some point during the game, provide a command without saying ‘Simon says’ first, and whomever completes the movement is out. If you have multiple students in your virtual class, continue playing until you have a winner, and then appoint that person to become ‘Simon’ and play again!
Charades is always a great way to get kids laughing, and it’s an easy option if you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids that don’t require a lot of setup. Write down a bunch of prompts and send them to your students ahead of time so they have time to practice, and enjoy a little fun!
If you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids who are a bit older, this is a great one to consider. Send them their clues ahead of time (or DM/text them in real time) and then set a timer for each student to sketch out their clue before showing it to the rest of the class to see if they can guess what they drew.
5. Jumping jacks / jogging in place
Another simple way to get kids moving and to help them burn off some steam is to set a timer and see who can do the most jumping jacks and/or jog in place the longest without stopping.
6. Leg lifts
If jumping and/or jogging in place isn’t an option, have each child stand sideways behind their desk chair and, using the chair for support, have them lift their legs up with their knees at a 90-degree angle. Try varying the length of time it takes your students to raise and lower their legs (5 counts up, 5 counts down), and then see if they can balance on one leg for a count of 10 without holding onto the chair.
Choose 5 actions (sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.), write them out in the order you’d like them completed (5 sit-ups, 4 push-ups, 3 jumping jacks, etc.), share them with your students via the screen sharing option during your virtual call, and have your class get out of their seats and get moving! You obviously won’t be able to see them complete every item on your list, but as long as they get up and move, that’s all that matters!
If you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids that you can organize on the fly and that don’t require any setup, a class sing-a-long is always a great idea! You can take the lead with younger kids, and if you teach tweens or teens, they can play their favorite tunes and sing together. Music can be such a powerful tool in boosting everyone’s spirits, and a great way to spend time together with friends.
9. 20 Questions
To play 20 Questions, one player thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the rest of the players ask 20 yes or no questions and attempt to figure out what it is. If a player guesses correctly after asking 20 questions, they earn a point and become ‘it’! If no one guesses, no one earns a point and someone else is randomly chosen to be ‘it’. This is an easy game to play virtually and works for many different age groups!
10. Would you rather?
‘Would You Rather’ is one of my favorite online games for kids because it’s easy to setup and suitable for every age. To play this game, all you need to do is write out a list of questions with 2 scenarios, and then read them off while your students take turns telling their friends which scenario they prefer. You can make this easy for younger kids (Would you rather it be summer or winter? Would you rather eat cookies or cupcakes?) and more thought-provoking for older kids (Would you rather be able to fly or be able to breathe under water? Would you rather travel back in time or visit the future?). Once kids get the hang of this game, they can take turns coming up with their own questions!
11. Zoom in
I only just learned about this virtual game, and it’s a great option for those in need of virtual brain breaks for kids. Find a few photos (these can be random or holiday-themed!) and zoom in on a certain portion of each photo and take a screen shot. The idea is to share the zoomed-in photos via screen share with your class and see if any of your students can guess what it is. You can shake this up a bit by challenging everyone to find and share a zoomed-in photo that’s relevant to a lesson you’re currently covering in class or an upcoming holiday, and see which student gets the most correct answers!
12. Scavenger hunt
If you’re looking for longer virtual brain breaks for kids, one of the easiest things you can do is create a scavenger hunt. Parents can help out and hide specific items around their respective homes to make it extra special, but if that’s not possible, you can keep it simple and write out a list of generic items for kids to find during your virtual scavenger hunt. Send the list ahead of time (or share it via the screen sharing option on your virtual call) and challenge your students to see who can find all of the items the fastest!
13. Act like a…
If you’re looking for simple virtual brain breaks for kids you can do on the fly when you notice your students starting to fade, a simple and fun idea is to ask them to act like a person or animal. You can do this as a planned break, or just spontaneously yell, ‘everyone act like a bunny rabbit!’ to get their attention. It’s a fun way to get kids moving and giggling.
14. Never have I ever
Did you ever play Never Have I Ever in college? It’s such a fun way to get to know people on a more personal level, and while you probably played an R-rated version with your college buddies, lol, you can create a G-rated version to enjoy with your class. To play this online, write out a list of 10 child-friendly statements (examples: never have I ever eaten a bug, never have I ever eaten food off the floor, never have I ever been sent to the principal’s office) and ask everyone to hold their hands out in front of them, palms facing outwards. As you read off the items on your list, ask everyone to fold a finger down for each item they have experienced.
If you’re looking for calming virtual brain breaks for kids, coloring is an easy and relaxing idea to consider. You can send a selection of coloring pages to your students ahead of time so they can choose and print off a few that they like, and then just enjoy each other’s company while you color and chat with one another.
16. Origami challenge
If you’re looking for virtual brain breaks for kids that promote a little creativity, origami is a fun idea to consider. Kids don’t need actual origami paper to participate – they can just cut a regular piece of paper into a square. Origami.me has tons of easy origami instructions available for free, which you can share in real time via the screen sharing option on your virtual call.
My final idea for those who are in need of virtual brain breaks for kids is to stimulate everyone’s creative thinking through age-appropriate riddles! It’s a great way to get kids laughing while also challenging their problem-solving skills. THIS POST has over 100 riddles for kids of all ages. Give them a try!
If your students and/or children struggle to focus and concentrate for extended periods of time while learning remotely, I hope this collection of virtual brain breaks for kids proves useful to you!