Just for fun: Physical Brain Breaks

These activities are a combination of get-to-know-you games, and just plain fun physical movement games.  The get-to-know-you games work well at the beginning of a course, or if a new person comes and needs to get to know the students names.  The physical movement games work well anytime the students seem to be in a lull and need to get their energy back up.  These games also work well to bring direction and focus to an overly energetic bunch of kids.

*Each of these activities corresponds with the following Utah State Core Curriculum Standards for Physical Education: Standard 1- Objective 1.b and Standard 2- Objective 2.b

Standard 1:  Students will value physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

Objective 1:  Emphasize how physical activity provides an opportunity for enjoyment.

c.  Participate in regular physical activity at home, at school, and in the community.

Standard 2: Students will exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.

Objective 2:  Follow rules and procedures while participating in activities.

b.  Describe and follow the rules of various games and activities.


1.  So Do I: The participants sit in a circle, either on the floor or ground facing each other, or in chairs facing OUT ward.  If you’re using chairs, leave an opening on each end of the circle or oval to allow people to pass through.  Use one chair fewer than there are players.  One person stands in the middle of the circle and says his or her first name, and something that is true about him or herself.   For example, “My name is Molly, and sometimes I eat cold pizza for breakfast.”  If anyone else in the circle eats cold pizza for breakfast, he/she/they stand up, say “So do I” and run into the circle looking for a new spot.  Anyone who stands up must sit down in a spot OTHER THAN their original one.  The person left standing is the next person to be in the middle.  Play until everyone gets a chance or they get bored of the game.

2.  Litterbox: Break students into teams.  Have each team line up along separate tables.  Give each team one piece of paper wadded up into a ball and set it on the floor in front of the first person in line.  Tell them this is a team relay activity, where each player individually is supposed to take turns picking up the paper using the body parts called out by the teacher:

  • Elbow and elbow
  • Foot and foot
  • Knee and knee
  • Forearm and elbow
  • Foot and elbow
  • Knee and elbow
  • Forehead and back of hand
  • Toe and finger

After the student has picked up the paper, they must hop around the desk and drop the paper in the same spot they picked it up.  The last person hops to the trashcan and puts the paper ball in the trash.

3.  Name and Adjective: Participants gather into a circle.  Select a person to start.  That person introduces him/herself by saying their name proceeded by an adjective beginning with the same letter as their name.  Ex: “Hi, I’m bubbly Betsy!”  The rest of the participants respond saying “Hi, bubbly Betsy!”  Then the next person should introduce his/herself in the same manner.  Again the rest of the participants respond by saying hi, but they should also say hi to the first person.  The game should continue in this manner, as each participant introduces him/herself the rest of the participants should say hi to that person and say hi in reverse order to all the other people who have introduced themselves.

4.  Name and Action: Participants gather into a circle.  Select a person to start.  That person introduces him/herself by saying their name and then doing a simple action.  Ex: “Hi, I’m Betsy (does a jumping jack)!”  The rest of the participants respond saying “Hi, Betsy!” and mimicking the action.  Then the next person should introduce his/herself in the manner.  Again the rest of the participants respond by saying hi and repeating the action, but they should also say hi to the first person.  The game should continue in this manner, as each participant introduces him/herself the rest of the participants should say hi to that person, and say hi in reverse order to all the other people who have introduced themselves.

5. Sports Galore: Participants should stand up in their own personal space.  Call out the following sports skills for participants to mimic for at least 10-15 seconds:

  • Shooting a jump shot
  • Running through tires
  • Batting a baseball
  • Serving a tennis ball
  • Downhill skiing
  • Spiking a volleyball
  • Swinging a golf club
  • Juggling a soccer ball
  • Shooting an arrow
  • Shooting a hockey puck
  • Swimming underwater
  • Fielding a ground ball and throwing it to first base
  • Dunking a basketball

6.  The Wiggles: Participants jog in place while doing the following activities.  Call out:

  • Wiggle your fingers.
  • Wiggle your fingers and wrists.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, and forearms.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, and   elbows.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, and rib cage.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, rib cage, and hips.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, rib cage, hips, and knees.
  • Wiggle your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, rib cage, hips, knees, and head.

7.  Freeze dance: Pick a song that somehow relates to something you’ve been discussing with your class.  Explain or have the children guess at what the significance of the song may be.  Then have the kids get up and find some personal space.  Have the participants get up and start to dance, if they are reluctant to dance, call out the following actions/dance moves for them to do:

  • High knees
  • Macarena
  • Slide side to side
  • Twinkle toes
  • The twist
  • Raise the roof
  • Hop on one leg
  • Walk like an Egyptian

Pause the song at random, when the music stops the kids must stop moving immediately.  Whoever moves should be disqualified and have to sit down.  At the end of the song whoever is left standing wins!