Just like all of the rest of the muscles in your body, your brain needs exercise to keep running at peak performance. Performing regular mental fitness exercises can improve memory, concentration, reasoning, and overall academic performance.
There are many ways to incorporate mental fitness exercises into the school day. Online and printable activities are available, along with brain break activities that can be used periodically throughout the school day. Check out the following guidance fromReadorium on how to keep your students engaged.
Quick Activities from Resources on Hand
The morning newspaper is a great place to come up with quick activities to stimulate the brain. Look through the comics section and have students make up different dialogue to go with the pictures from a particular comic strip. You can also have them pick an interesting word and then make a list of 5 other words with the same beginning or ending.
Make a grocery list, a list of things to do, or a set of directions for operating something and have students try to commit it to memory for one minute. Then, cover it up or remove it from view, and see how many of the things from the list they remember.
Have students think about their classes at school and how they get to them. Then tell them to draw a map from memory, with extra details such as where the restrooms, certain artwork, etc. might be along the way.
More activities for students are to read tongue twisters out loud, try using the opposite hand instead of the dominant hand for certain activities, or walk backward to their desk every time they come into the classroom. Card games can also improve memory and keep children mentally sharp.
Another technique that is gaining traction is a focused-attention practice called a brain break. It is a short period of time that is utilized every 30 minutes, or after another specifically designated timeframe, to reset from tedious school work or problem solving.
There are several different games or ideas to try for a brain break. Junk Bag entails picking an object out of a bag of random objects and having students write or draw a completely different use for it for a minute or two. When they are done, allow them to walk around to compare their invention to other students’ ideas.
Another great activity is to have the students create a simple made-up language. Then, the students partner in pairs to take turns speaking to each other, while the other one interprets or answers back for 30 seconds. Then they switch roles.
Squiggle Story is another one where the teacher draws a squiggly line on the board or a piece of paper first. The students then have one minute to take turns adding to it with their opposite hands to turn the line into a picture or design.
If you’re a teacher who works on the side as a tutor, brain break-style activities also work well for kicking off a tutoring session with a student. Chances are the students you tutor come to you with tired brains after a long day at school. Brain breaks can be fun pick-me-ups that will help them transition to your session without feeling too much like schoolwork.
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Many more resources and ideas can be found online, some printable, for puzzles, math games, creativity games, brain teasers, team-building games, and brain breaks. With these games and activities, you’re better able to keep students from being bored and sharpening their minds throughout the year.
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