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In-School Activity Break Ideas

Physical Activity Breaks:  These three- to five-minute physical activity ideas can be incorporated into any classroom.  Here are some examples of how to get students moving.  Feel free to get creative and come up with your own!

Chair Aerobics: Have students pull their chairs out from their desk.  They should sit up straight, keeping their ankles together to do leg lifts by extending their legs to a 180-degree angle for 20 repetitions.  Then have students stand behind the chair and while holding the back for balance, extend their right leg out to the side to a 45-degree angle for 20 repetitions.  Then repeat with the left leg.

Boogie Days: Have students spread out across the room and play one school-appropriate song and let kids bust-a-move. Have them follow your moves and make sure movements are appropriate.  Try doing some vintage moves like the Twist, mash potatoes or just jumping around.

No Stress Test: Make it a classroom tradition to have a 5-minute walking break before a test to help everyone unwind and relax.

Take a Tour: Lead students on an imaginary tour of a different country or state in a charades-like game.  For example, take a tour of Texas: march to the Alamo, climb an oak tree, climb Guadalupe Peak, swim in the Gulf of Mexico.  Create other simulations that point out various landmarks within any state.

Mix it Up:  Create a dance sequence one move at a time by calling out a move.  Add one move each time through the sequence.  Moves could include: stomp left, high five, jump twice, spin in a circle, squat, etc.

Acting Out: Read a paragraph or page of a book, and every time an action verb comes up, the students have to act it out.

Look Ma, No Hands!: Have students put an object on the floor (pen, notebook, ID card) and call out different body part they have to try to pick it up with (ex: elbows, feet, knees, forearm, neck, etc).

Keep it Clean:  Push some chairs to the side and draw an imaginary line down the middle of the room.  Give students several soft objects to throw (wadded up paper from the recycle bin works well).  Students begin throwing objects across the line—the object is to keep objects off of your side of the room.  When you call “time” the cleanest side (the one with the fewest objects) wins.  Do best 2 out of 3 for minute sessions.

Quiz Me: While reviewing for a test, ask the students a series of true-or-false questions.  If the question is true students should jump in place for 15 seconds.  If it is false they should touch their toes.

Shake It: Students remain seated and raise their hands in the air.  Have them start by shaking their right hand 10 times, left hand 10 times, left foot 10 times and right foot 10 times.  Repeat counting down the number of shakes from 9-1.  Speed up or slow down the counting to keep it interesting.

Stand Up for Vocabulary: Create a poem or song using vocabulary words that all start with the same letter.  Every time a word starting with that letter is said or sung have students stand up or sit down.

Animal Instincts: Pick one student to call out an animal and have everyone mimic how that animal moves.  Go around the room until every student has an opportunity to call out an animal and the class has mimicked that animal.

Train Like a Pro: Have students emulate various sports for 10-15 seconds each:

  • kick a field goal
  • shoot a jump shot
  • run through tires
  • swing a bat
  • serve a tennis ball
  • downhill skiing
  • spike a volleyball
  • swing a golf club
  • throw a football
  • shoot an arrow
  • shoot a hockey puck
  • swim

The Classroom Workout Circuit: Have students do the following in place for 1 minute each (feel free to mix up the order): jog in place, high knees, jumping jacks, hop on one foot, hop on the other foot, hop on both feet.

Take a Seat!: Have students stand up and pull their chairs away from their desks.  They should stand in front of their chair (seat facing out).  Have students quickly sit, then stand, sit then stand 8-10 times.  Next, quickly repeat sitting halfway down and standing, repeating 8-10 times.  Last, have students barely sit (just touching the chair) and stand quickly repeating 8-10 times.

Walk and Talk: Break students into groups of 2 or 3, and assign a topic related to a current lesson plan that students need to discuss while taking a 5-minute walk.  They should report their discussion back to the class.

Stretch It Out: Have students stand with both arms extended out in front.  Slowly, alternate using arms to push open an imaginary door.  Clasp hands together and extend arms out, bending the elbows slightly, and stretch neck by lowing your head (as if trying to touch nose to chest).