Physical Activities with Specific Purposes

This set of Brain Breaks are fun and physical and specifically related to certain aspects of the Kids’ Court curriculum.  These activities have the potential to be adapted with different sets of information, but they are described below in the formats and with the information sets that they were originally created around.  Most of these Brain Breaks require preparation and/or materials.

*While each of these games has a physical component they are all focused on specific sets of information.  These games are individually paired to the state objectives they satisfy, based on the set of information they were designed for.

1. Constitution game: This game is similar to duck-duck-goose, and is effective in introducing participants to a new topic, or for helping to familiarize with a set of information.  Participants each get a card with an amendment on it then go sit in a circle on the floor or in chairs, but one participant is left standing.  There is a stack of identical cards on a nearby table.  The first person standing picks up a card from the stack and reads the amendment out loud; then the person who has the amendment has to stand up and run around the circle.  Whoever is left standing has to draw another card from the deck.  Play until all cards are read.

Materials: two matching sets of amendment index cards

*This activity corresponds with the following Utah State Core Curriculum Standards for 5th grade Social Studies: Standard 3- Objective 1

Standard 3: Students will understand the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Objective 1: Assess the underlying principles of the US Constitution.


2.  Branches of Government:  This game should be played in conjunction with a lesson about the three branches of government.  This game requires certain materials including a deck of leaves (colorful index cards cut into the shape of leaves), and a large government tree that can be posted on.   Each leaf should have one fact about one the three branches of government.  The government tree should have three major branches coming out of the trunk.  One of the major branches should be labeled “Executive”, one should be labeled “Legislative” and the third should be labeled “Judicial”.  Pick a student volunteer to come up and read a clue leaf.  After the student reads the clue aloud, have them try to place it on the tree in the correct branch of government.  If the student struggles allow for help from the other kids.  Repeat this process until each student gets a turn.  Each clue leave may lead to questions, so be prepared to discuss each fact.

Materials: clue leaves, government tree

*This activity corresponds with the following Utah State Core Curriculum Standards for 5th grade Social Studies: Standard 3- Objective 1.c and 1.e

Standard 3:  Students will understand the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Objective 1:  Assess the underlying principles of the US Constitution.

c.  Distinguish between the role of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the                           government.

e.  Describe the concept of checks and balances.


3.  Walk the Line:  Students should stand up in their personal space.  Explain to the students that you are going to read several statements to them.  If they agree with the statement, the students should move to the right side of the room.  If they disagree with the statement, the students should move to the left side of the room, and if they are undecided about their opinion they get the center of the room (signs in each of these locations will help the students to remember where to go).  Once students decide their positions, call on students from each group to get their opinions on why they made that decision.  The following statements tend to create interesting discussion among the students, but feel free to add to or change these statements.

Potential issues:

  • Dogs should be allowed to go into stores.
  • Half the school day should be recess.
  • The minimum driving age should be 21 instead of 16 yrs. Old.
  • Every kid should get a mandatory allowance of $10 per week from their parents.
  • 6th graders should shovel the parking lot and sidewalks at Rose Park Elementary whenever it snows.
  • The minimum voting age should be 13 years old instead of 18 yrs.
  • Boys must all wear their hair long.
  • Boys must carry girl’s backpacks.
  • Girls must pay boys $2 every time they carry their backpack

Materials: agree/disagree/undecided signs, list of issues


4.  Preamble Game:  This game can be used to either introduce students to the preamble of the Constitution, or to test their knowledge of it.  Split students into two groups.  Have each group form a line.  Hand out clauses of preamble (in order) written on different index cards to each student.  Students take turns reading their section of the preamble in order.  Collect all of the cards, then unexpectedly throw them in the air, and tell students they have only two minutes to put the preamble in order, laying clauses in order across a table.  The team who is closest wins.

Materials:  two decks of preamble clause cards

*This activity corresponds with the following Utah State Core Curriculum Standards for 5th grade Social Studies: Standard 3- Objective 1.b

Standard 3:  Students will understand the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Objective 1:  Assess the underlying principles of the US Constitution.

b.  Analyze goals outlined in the Preamble.


6. Thumb-wrestling Competition: This game works well as a fun warm-up in conflict resolution lessons.  Pass out direction sheets to kids.  The point of the game is for the partners to work together instead of against each other.  Run through the competition 2 or 3 times until the kids start to see that if you work together and find a way to communicate even when it is difficult, then you are more likely to be successful. (You can hint at this in between rounds so that they begin to understand.)

Direction Sheet:  Score as Much as You Can in the

Thumb-Wrestling Contest

The purpose of this “thumb-wrestling” contest is for you to score as many points as you can in 15 seconds.  Here are the rules of the competition (which you should read carefully before you start):

  1. Choose a partner.
  2. You cannot talk to your partner about the competition.
  3. Hold the fingers of your partner’s right hand with the fingers of your right hand; your thumb and your partner’s thumb should be pointed straight up to start.
  4. The instructor will tell you, “Get set.”
  5. When the instructor says, “Go,” try to pin your partner’s thumb with your thumb.
  6. Each time you pin your partner’s thumb, you get one point.
  7. Keep track of your points by saying out loud, “One,” “Two,” and so on.
  8. The instructor will call time at the end of 30 seconds.
  9. Write down how many points you scored:  ____________
  10. The team with the most combined points wins the contest.

Materials: thumb wrestling directions worksheet