Brain breaks for cognitive wellbeing

Brain breaks are simple physical and mental exercises. They have a positive effect on learning by:

  • increasing engagement and cognitive functioning,
  • supporting the brain maturation process,
  • enhancing focus, mood and learning,
  • increasing students’ perceived competence,
  • improving classroom behaviour,
  • and strengthening teacher-student relationships.

Furthermore, if the brain breaks are physical, they have the additional benefits of:

  • increasing circulation,
  • increasing the oxygen in the bloodstream which leads to improved concentration,
  • and allowing the students to get out of their chairs.

Examples of brain breaks


  • Stand up
  • Wink your left eye and snap your right hand index finger and thumb at the same time
  • Wink your right eye and snap your left hand index finger and thumb at the same time
  • Switch from left to right as fast as you can.

Pen flipping brain break

  • Take a pen and flip it one revolution.
  • Now do the same thing with your other hand.
  • Now get a pen for both hands and try to do both pens at the same time.
  • If you really are good at that, then try to throw the pens up into the air and catch them in opposite hands. This is tough.

Pressure Point Massage

  • Stand up straight.
  • Gently massage the pressure point between your thumb and pointer finger for one minute.​
  • Switch hands after 30 seconds.

Book balance

Balance a book on your head. Can you stand up, walk to the front door, walk back and sit down without dropping the book?

3 hands, 7 fingers

  • Find two other people to play this with (can be your family members or over video conferencing)
  • One of the players says, 'One,. two, three, show!'
  • On 'show', each person holds out 0-5 fingers.
  • The aim is to have 7 fingers in total.
  • How many times do you have to do it to have exactly 7 fingers?
  • Once you do, play with both hands and try to get to 11!

Human wave

Do a ‘human wave’ by standing and raising your arms around the room

Pencil Jumps

Place a pencil on the floor and jumps over forwards and backwards, 10 times. Then jump 10 more times side to side.

My Day mime

You have 30 seconds to act out what they have done so far today – starting with waking. You must do this silently and see if anyone can guess what you did.

Treasure Hunt

If you’re on a video conference, the teacher calls out an adjective such as ‘red’ or ‘plastic’. Students have to go and find an object that meets the description.


  • Students stand in a circle facing inwards. A nominated student begins by saying 'one'. The student to the left of the first one says 'two' and so on around the circle, calling out numbers in numerical order.
  • Every time a number comes along that contains a 7 or is a multiple of 7, students must call out ‘buzz’ instead of the number. Counting then continues as normal until the next multiple of 7 or number with a 7.
  • For example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, buzz, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, buzz, 15, 16, buzz etc
  • When someone makes a mistake, the counting starts again. Can the class make it to 100? If you’re in language class, do it in another language.

Thumb pointing challenge

  • Clench your left fist and give a 'thumbs up' sign. With your right hand, keep your thumb tucked in and point your pointer finger directly at the raised thumb on the left hand.
  • Then switch positions, with the left pointer finger pointing at the right hand’s raised thumb. Swap between these two positions and try to improve your speed and coordination.


  • Student management and wellbeing


  • Back to school
  • Wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
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