These activities provide students the opportunity to “break” from thinking and decompress for a moment. These vary between physical, mental, or silly tasks for students to do.
1. High Five Everyone- Students have 30 seconds to high five everyone in the room but must walk.
2. Double High Fives- Students must stand and high five every person immediately around them with both hands.
3. Windmill High Fives- Students spread out and have one hand forward facing, one backward facing. They pick a partner and spin in circles high fiving each other each spin.
4. High Five Hugs- Students do a regular high five but wrap their thumb around each other’s hand and tap their thumb on the partner's hand a few times.
5. “I’m Thankful” Quick Write- Students write a brief letter to someone they are thankful for.
6. Thankful Sharing- Each student shares with the class something specific they are thankful for- must be specific names or items.
7. Thankfulness Post Its- Students write what they are thankful for on a Post It note and place them on the white board. For another brain break, read the answers to the class.
8. Gratitude Graffiti- Have students write their gratitude on a large piece of paper (can be done on one large sheet or smaller sheets in groups) and display the finished gratitude wall in the classroom.
9. Drive by Encouragement- Place a long strip of masking tape on each student’s station. Students write compliments for, at minimum, each person in their group (can be more). They then walk around and stick the tape on the people they wrote the complement for.
10. Drive by Post Its- Students write an encouraging note on a Post It for a staff member in the school. Once written, the students stick the Post It on the person's door without disturbing them.
11. Six Word Memoir- Students write a six-word memoir about their day thus far on a Post It. Students can either share aloud or post on the whiteboard.
12. Handshakes- Students shake the hand of three students in a different part of the classroom and introduce themselves.
13. Favorite- Students talk to three different students about one of their “favorites” (can be a favorite anything). Have a few students share something interesting they learned about a classmate.
14. Cave Time- Have students sit under their table or desk with a partner to discuss something from the lesson.
15. What matters to you? - Have students write a list of things that matter to them and have them keep it in their folder. Have students share one thing with their class, neighbor, or table. Can be used more than once as they’ve written multiple things.
16. I wish my teacher knew…- Have students write something they wish you knew on a Post It note and turn them in anonymously.
17. Checkup Letter- Have students write a letter to you to let you know how they are doing in class, what they want to know, questions they have, or anything they want you to know.
18. Carpet Time- Sit in a circle on the floor to discuss a reading that the class had to do. Sitting on the floor lets the students move around and be in a change of scenery.
19. One Word- Have students give you one word describing something about themselves. You give them the idea of what aspect of their lives they need to describe with the word.
20. Weekend Post It- Students write what they did the previous weekend or what they plan on doing the upcoming weekend on a Post It.
21. TED Talks- Have students view a short TED talk video pertaining to the content and then write a brief summary.
22. Love Letters- Have students write an encouraging letter to a stranger and leave them in hidden public places.
23. Before I Die- Have students write the things they want to do before they die on a Post It note and display on the white board.
24. 30 Day Challenge- Have students share something they would like to try for 30 days.
25. Speed Dating- Come up with a list of questions for students to discuss. They get in partners and only have a set amount of time to discuss the questions before they get a new partner and new question.
26. What Would I Say? – Students write a sentence from the point of view of a specific character or item that you are learning about.
27. Tween Tribune- Have students go to www.tweentribune.com and select their grade range. Students can view articles pertaining to them and comment on them.
28. Inspirational Videos- Show short inspirational YouTube videos to students (i.e. Kid President or Soul Pancake).
29. Throwback Thursday- Show pictures of yourself from high school or elementary school to show the kids what you looked like at their age.
30. Puzzle- Have a jigsaw puzzle set up in the classroom. Students can go and work on the puzzle if they finish an activity or assignment early.
31. Dream Tree- Have a tree posted on a bulletin board. Students can write something they dream of doing on a Post It and hang them on the tree.
32. Footprint- Have a bulletin board that students can hang footprints on that say what mark they would like to leave on the world.
33. Landmarks & Landmines- Have students create a timeline of their week or month. They then chronicle their landmarks (positives) and landmines (negatives) for the given time frame to see how they are doing.
34. Get to Know You- Have students fill out a survey you created in order to better get to know them.
35. Quotes- Hand out a list of famous quotes. Students choose one and write about what they think it means or what it means to them.
36. Show and Tell- Have students fill out a form about a specific homework assignment they are proud of. The form will give them talking points to say to their parents when they show them the assignment. Parents will have to sign the form for proof that the students showed them the assignment.
37. Take a Lap- Have students take a lap around the room.
38. Minnesota Map- Have students line up in the shape of Minnesota. Each student gets a turn to stand on where their favorite place in the state is.
39. Nose Names- Have students write their names in the air using their noses. You can switch it to finger, elbow, toe, knee, tongue, etc.
40. Switcharoo- Students pick up all of their belongings and switch to a different seat in the classroom.
41. Super Silent- Have students line up by birthday, alphabetically, etc. without any talking.
42. Beach Ball- Write different questions or topic on a beach ball and toss it around the room. Students will have to answer the question or speak to the topic that their right thumb lands on.
43. Paper Airplanes- Have students create paper airplanes and have a quick competition for whos can go the furthest.
44. Snowball Fight- Have students write one thing new that they’ve learned on a piece of paper. Students then crumple the paper and throw them around the room. Each student picks up someone else’s “snowball” and share with the class.
45. Pinky-Thumb Flip- Have students raise their thumb on one hand and their pinky on the other hand. They then switch if their thumb or pinky is up at the same.
46. Yoga- Have students do a few basic yoga poses.
47. Would You Rather- Give students a Would You Rather question. Have students split into sides of the classroom based on their answer.
48. Plates- Have each student balance a paper plate on their head. If a student drops a plate, they must freeze until someone else picks up the plate and puts it back on their head.
49. Human Knot- Have each student grab right hands with someone who is not directly next to them. They then try to untangle without releasing hands.
50. Telephone- Give students a joke or riddle to repeat down the line. They need to pass it on to their neighbor. See what ends up being the final phrase.
51. Hand Wave- Have students wave one hand up and down and the other left to right. Then have them switch hands. Once this is mastered, have them cross their arms to see if they can master it.
52. Ear and Nose- Have students take their right-hand and grab their left ear. Have their left-hand touch their nose. Switch back and forth between which hands are on which facial feature.
53. Vocab Alphabet- Have students shout out vocab words pertaining to the topic you are covering, in order, for each letter of the alphabet.
54. Buzz- Have students count, each student saying one number. Every time they reach a multiple of seven or a double (11, 22, etc.) have the person who’s turn it is say “buzz.” The direction of the circle that they are counting then reverses. See how high they can count and how fast they can count.
55. This or That- Students answer “This or That” questions briefly with a partner (See “This or That” document). Can also allow for students to share their answer with the whole class.
56. CNN 10- Play the day’s CNN 10 episode. CNN 10 is a daily, 10 minute news brief designed for students.
57. Figure 8- Have students “write” an “8” in the air with one hand and keep repeating it. Then, have them bring in their other hand and try to write it in the opposite direction.
59. Changetochill.org- Students can have time to decompress on this website that is meant to help students manage their stress.
60. Gotcha- Students stand in a circle with their left-hand open and their pointer finger extended on their right hand. The teacher says “Gotcha” and the students all try to capture the student on their lefts finger while not having their own pointer finger caught.
61. 10-6-4- Students will have to quickly touch ten different chairs that are not next to them. Once this is done they need to touch elbows with six people not directly next to them. Lastly, they will have to touch four classmates shoes that are not next to them.