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[Student Engagement] 4 Brain Breaks for the Virtual Classroom

[Student Engagement] 4 Brain Breaks for the Virtual Classroom

With the switch to distance learning students are now spending more hours in front of a screen than ever before. For those who teach their online lessons later in the afternoon, we’re sure you’ve noticed that students get more and more fidgety as the day goes on. It is important to take breaks throughout the day. This gives your students, and yourself, the chance to unplug. Next time you just need a break or a chance to refocus, try one of these brain breaks perfect for the virtual classroom.

1. Virtual Dance Party

Have you noticed kids these days like to dance? Have you seen TikTok? Whether you love music or not, your kids most certainly do and luckily, that makes this brain break an easy-to-execute win. When you feel your students may need a quick break, pull up a happy playlist or a kid-friendly album and have everyone get out of their seats and dance for one song.

Implementation Tips: Make it a game by randomly freezing the music. If a student doesn’t stop when the music ends, they have to sit down. The last students standing at the end of the song wins some bragging points. You could also make this a get-to-know-you activity by allowing your students to share their favorite (school appropriate) song and make it a playlist of tunes you know they’ll enjoy.

2. “Passing Time” Breaks

This is a simple, but often overlooked brain break. We forget that students have lost “passing time” in their days, so if this isn’t built into your school’s virtual learning schedule, make sure you take time out of your remote learning plan to allow students to get up and do what they need to do in their home. Whether that is grab a snack, a sweater, use the bathroom, or run to another room for something. Let them know that they have however many minutes to do whatever they’d like, but that you will be starting the lesson once that time is up so they should be back at their computers by then. This will ideally keep students from getting up at random throughout your remote lesson.

3. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Since this past spring, this has become a very popular activity among educators who are teaching remotely. A quick web search for virtual scavenger hunts will provide hundreds of results. You can make this a full day activity, or just have students quickly find three items to get them up and moving around.

Implementation tip: Challenge yourself to tie in what your students are learning to the items you ask students to find. For example, if you’re teaching geometry or shapes, have students find an object in the shape of a cylinder. My first thought is a Pringles can, what’s yours?

4. Alphabet Game

For this brain break, have students stand up in front of their computers and put your view back to grid-mode. All you have to do is call out letters, and have students try to make those letters with their bodies. No one way is correct, and it will be entertaining for you to see all the ways they go about moving their bodies to make the right letter. For an advanced version of this game, incorporate the game Sparkle, and have students spell out their spelling words with their bodies.

Looking for more student engagement ideas? Be sure to browse Edmentum’s Free Resources page for fun, interactive toolkits, downloadables and more.