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Brain Break Ideas– Minefield, Positive Notes, & More

I had the pleasure of leading some brain break activities at our Staff Council Retreat yesterday. Though I lead adults through these activities, each of them could easily be adapted to fit  your grade level and content area for student participation.

  • Minefield– This challenge is SO much fun! The object of the challenge is to get each team member or student across the “minefield” without getting buzzed out and without speaking. First, place thirty, 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper on the floor in 6 rows. Line up participants and have them step on the pieces of paper to make their way across the minefield. Only 1 square per row is “safe”. If participants step on any of the other papers in the row “buzz” them out– I used a free buzzer app on my phone. Participants get back in line until all make it across by stepping on the correct pieces of paper. Remember that NO TALKING is the only rule. Feel free to allow them to communicate non-verbally. You will need–
    • Paper–  placed in rows
    • Pre-planned “safe squares”– I drew a little diagram & made “Xs” on the correct squares
    • Buzzer app
  • Best Smile/Legs Contest– The name of this one is a little misleading. It is much more of a guessing game. Take a few pictures of teachers’ smiles or legs (I kept all leg pics below the knee & all had long pants on) that are cropped enough that you cannot tell who they belong to. During a quick break, have participants try to guess who is the owner of that leg or smile. It is just that simple! Have participants trade & grade or grade themselves. I could see this being done with celebrity smiles or cartoon legs, too! Supplies needed:
    • Images of smiles or legs labelled with numbers
    • Paper for participants to write their guesses on
  • This is Better Than That–  For this challenge, participants work in groups to rank objects in their usefulness in a provided scenario. The goal is to be as creative as possible. Here is the prompt that I used–

You started from a tropic port aboard a tiny ship. You and 5 other passengers set sail that day for a 3 hour tour.
The weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew the ship would be lost.
The ship set aground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle.
Now you’re here for a long, long time and have to make due. Rank and explain the items from most to least important to you. Be as creative as you can!

After reading the prompt aloud, show the group 6 items to rank–  I used a plastic cup, 2 sets of chopsticks, a ball of yarn, a golden rubber duck, a plush Pokeball, and a bag of decorative marbles. Groups then split up and work together to rank the items and provide their reason for choosing that item. The responses will range from logical to creative and downright silly. Have group share their responses. You will need–

    • A number of random items
    • Prompt or scenario
    • Paper/handout for ranking & responses– 1 per group
  • Positive Posts– This activity was a great way to wrap up the day. I think it would be wonderful to use maybe within the first few weeks of school when students have just gotten to know each other. Pass out a piece of construction paper to each participant. Have them write their name in any way they wish in the middle of the paper (some will use decorative lettering, draw pictures, etc. while others will simply sign or write their names). Collect their papers and line them up around the room. Have participants then move around the room and write a positive note to each person whose name is in the middle of the paper. Once everyone has commented on every paper, collect, laminate and then pass back. It is great for participants to see the positive thoughts people have of them! Supplies needed–
    • Colored paper for each participant
    • Markers, pens, etc. for writing on paper




Instructional coach and former art teacher on the hunt for tips, tricks, strategies, and knowledge to pass along.

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