Reggie, how long have you been on the couch for?
Brain breaks. There are many different types of brain breaks, however, today I want to focus on the musical ones. To me, the brain break is a short, fun activity that allows the children to relax, without there being any real goal to achieve out of the activity. It is a fun way for the children to ‘get their wiggles out’.
I’m pretty sure some people would consider a few of the songs I use for brain breaks as wasteful ‘filler’. I disagree. Brain breaks serve several valuable purposes within a lesson. While I usually structure them into the lesson plan, there are often times, when its patently obvious, what’s needed is a ‘shake break’.
Most important is that brain breaks seem to act as a mental ‘reset’ button. If the children have been doing an activity for several minutes, it gives them a chance to relax before continuing on with the class. In that sense it also plays into the ‘classroom management’. If children are active and enjoying your class, there’s less of a chance they’ll be ‘misbehaving’ because they’re bored or unengaged.
Next, they’re great for transitions between activities. While you’re doing the brain break with the children, the teaching assistants can be packing up the materials from the last activity, and setting up the new one.
Another case for the brain break is that the children love them. One of my main objectives with very young learner classes is to make sure they enjoy learning and enjoy learning languages. Anything that supports that objective, that doesn’t detract from the class is a welcome addition.
Finally, during the brain break the children are going to be receptively picking up new language in a way that isn’t taxing on them. Many brain break songs have lots of action verbs like jump, hop, skip, and so on.
One of my favourite brain breaks is the Shake Break by Pancake Manor. It comes in three different flavours: Original, modern, and girlie. The original version is still my favourite, and always a hit with the kids. I consider it to be a 90 second investment in the quality of my class. Here’s Lulu’s version:
There are many different types of brain breaks videos you can find online. Search on YouTube for brain breaks, and you’ll find a wide selection. Try some out and discover, the ones that work best in your class.
I’m currently experimenting with other types of brain breaks. But, more on that, another day.