Brain breaks for middle school and high school students

Brain breaks for middle and high school students

Published: November 7th, 2023

In today’s fast-paced digital world, we must recognize the significance of providing students with moments of rest to recharge and refocus. As educators, you know how important it is to nurture not only a student’s academic development but also their overall well-being. 

This is where brain breaks come into play. Many educators have found that integrating brain breaks into the school day improves focus and concentration among students. 

In this article, we will explore the importance and benefits of providing brain breaks for students as well as practical strategies for incorporating them into your instructional day. 

What is a brain break?

A brain break is a short mental break, usually in the form of physical activity, that’s taken at regular intervals during classroom instruction

Providing brain breaks for your students is a small idea that can have a profound influence on students and their academic achievement. 

The benefits of brain breaks

Researchers have identified many advantages in integrating brain breaks throughout the day. Here are some of the positive outcomes associated with brain breaks.

Enhances focus and concentration

Physical exercise increases blood flow to the brain, helping students regain their focus by reducing mental fatigue

After a break, students can return to their tasks with renewed concentration, making them more alert and receptive to instruction, ultimately increasing productivity.

Facilitates learning

Brain breaks have a direct link to improved focus and attention, fundamental prerequisites for learning new skills.

Moments of respite that offer students the opportunity to engage in movement increase oxygen flow. This re-energizes students, enhancing their engagement and learning capacity.

Emotional regulation

Adolescents often experience a rollercoaster of emotions throughout any given day. Brain breaks serve as valuable times for students to relieve stress and anxiety, improving their mood and helping them control their emotions. 

Many studies have shown a positive correlation between brain breaks and social-emotional learning.

Boosts creativity and problem-solving skills

Prolonged focus empowers students to tackle more challenging tasks effectively. By providing students with short breaks involving physical activities or engaging games, their problem-solving abilities are boosted and their creativity reaches new heights

Fosters a positive classroom environment

Cultivating a positive and inclusive school and classroom culture where everyone feels welcome is paramount. 

Incorporating brain breaks not only rejuvenates students but also fosters a positive sense of community within your classroom. Students can interact with each other in a safe and respectful environment.

5 brain breaks for middle schoolers to try

There are many ways teachers can easily insert brain breaks into the school day. For middle school students, these brief intermissions can enhance their learning experience and help maintain a productive classroom environment. 

Here are some effective strategies to consider.

Silent Ball

In this peace-inducing quiet game, students form a circle around the perimeter of the classroom. The rules are simple and adaptable to your classroom’s size and the age of your students. 

The game begins when one student tosses a soft or squishy ball to another student, who then throws it to someone else, and so on. However, if a student fails to catch the ball, they are eliminated from the game. 

Additionally, if the judge deems a throw “uncatchable,” the thrower is eliminated. Play continues until only one person remains standing. This game offers several benefits, including improving focus by reducing noise and chatter, allowing them to concentrate on a single object – the ball.  

Spot-the-difference puzzles

These puzzles are an excellent tool for engaging students with minimal preparation. The idea involves comparing two similar-looking photographs that have subtle differences. 

Students can take turns identifying these differences, or they can work in teams to compete against the clock. While there are many free online websites offering spot-the-difference images, it’s important to ensure they are accessible and not blocked by your school’s server.

Would you rather…?

This engaging conversational activity presents students with two challenging and sometimes humorously absurd choices, from which they must select one option. 

Students make their choice by standing on one side of the room or the other, as directed by the questioner’s instructions.


In this drawing and guessing game, students take turns drawing a word or phrase while their teammates try to guess the illustration. Pictionary is an entertaining game that encourages creativity while having fun. You can even utilize your ActivPanel’s whiteboard to facilitate this in the classroom!

Physical activity choice

Every educator aims to foster active learning in their classrooms. One effective way of promoting active learning is by staying physically active. 

Roll a die or use the spinner tool on your ActivPanel to discover a quick exercise suggestion, ensuring that the chosen activities benefit all your students.

5 brain breaks for high schoolers

These short breaks can also enrich the learning experience for high school students. Here are some brain-break options to explore.

Adult coloring pages

Remember the joy of drawing and coloring as a child? The soothing and relaxing nature of this activity is timeless. Society today has elevated the traditional coloring book to engage older students and adults, sparking creativity and imagination. 

Try playing some soothing music while students color and bask in the calm atmosphere you’ve created.


The benefits of stretching extend to everyone, not just athletes. The activity is especially beneficial for those who spend much of their day in a sedentary position. 

Encourage students to stand up and stretch their arms, legs, and back. Consider providing visual examples of simple chair exercises to help them ease tension in their neck, shoulders, and hands.

21 questions

Always a crowd-pleaser, 21 Questions is a simple yet engaging game. One person thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the challenge is to guess what it is within 21 questions. 

Add a competitive element by setting goals for students to guess the object out in 20, 15, or even 10 questions or less. This encourages students to think strategically about their questioning. 

Two-minute chat with your neighbor

High school students appreciate a couple of minutes to chat with their friends; it’s an essential part of socialization and growing up. Set a timer and let students know they have two minutes to converse with a nearby friend. To add more structure, write an open-ended question on the board or suggest a conversation topic.

Card games

Who’s up for a spirited game of War, Rummy, or Solitaire? Any card game can enhance students’ focus and concentration. They can also have an opportunity to interact with their peers and cultivate a positive and inclusive school environment.

Enjoy a brain break with Promethean

Incorporating brain breaks into your daily instruction has been proven to boost productivity, focus, and student achievement. Customize Promethean’s Spinner App by opening the Spinner App, creating a new list, and adding as many physical activity exercises as you like. Then, simply spin the wheel to select a fun exercise. 

Promethean’s ActivPanel is an excellent resource for sharing information with students. By sharing photographs or images on the interactive display, you can encourage students to interact, finding the differences between the two images. It’s also excellent for games like Pictionary, where students can easily select their drawing tools and colors with just a click. 

These short intermissions enhance student focus, concentration, and learning potential. They also foster a positive and inclusive classroom environment. Brain breaks offer valuable opportunities for students to rejuvenate their focus, engage in creativity, and nurture their emotional well-being.

Ready to learn more? Request a demo today.