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Let's Get Physical With Brain Break Active Games

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Photo of Alison Smith
Updated | 4 min read

Have you ever experienced a lesson flop? I think of a lesson flop as being a little bit like an afternoon slump that calls for a strong coffee. Your class might not enjoy coffee, but they will enjoy our Brain Break Active Games as an all-around energy booster with cognitive benefits.

Picture me, teaching a class of 28 Year 3 lively lovelies,  in the small village of Acton, hidden away in the county of Cheshire, England.  15 minutes into an OFSTED lesson observation, I noticed that my students were becoming restless, disengaged and well, a little bit tricky to keep on task. Have you been in a similar situation?

The important thing to share with you is that The Bean Game turned it all around for me. It wasn’t part of my plan and it did take up 10 minutes, but it transformed my lesson and helped me to achieve a rating of exceptional!

The Bean Game

The Cognitive Benefits of Physical Activity in the Classroom

“Research shows even short bursts of movement deliver big benefits for brain health and academic performance, relative to sitting quietly,” says Dr. Laura Chaddock-Heyman, a research scientist specialising in movement and the brain.

Without getting too technical, when we hear, see, touch and read and process any new information, the brain sends signals from sensory receptors to the memory storage part of the brain. When these pathways are overloaded and stressed this process stops happening efficiently. As a result, we become restless, fuzzy, irritable, unmotivated and unfocused. Physical activity uses different parts of the brain and so when we take a break and do some physical activity, we give the exhausted parts of our brain a chance to rest and recharge. Research has shown that providing regular opportunities for physical activity can ease the symptoms of ADHD, raise achievement standards and improve cognitive development (the construction of thought processes, memory, problem-solving and decision making). It doesn’t take research to show that active games and brain breaks increase the fun factor in the classroom.

What Next?

So after presenting a compelling case for injecting physical activity into your lesson plans, I present our fun, energetic, tried and tested Brain Break Active Game Resource Pack! This resource pack includes 16 active games, each with a slightly different focus. Each game aims to make your classroom buzz, improve cognition, mood, focus and academic achievement in your students. If you get involved in the game, you’ll notice the benefits too! The Brain Break Active Games are designed for whole class or large group use and are best used in a large open space such as the school hall or playground.


Zip Zap Zoom! is a whole class game that encourages concentration and listening skills as well as knowledge and understanding of directional language. While sitting in a circle, students change the direction of ‘energy’ by saying ‘zip’ for a clockwise direction, ‘zap’ for an anticlockwise direction or ‘zoom’ to send the energy across the circle. Increase the pace of the game for extra excitement!

Brain Break Active Games for the Classroom

Fruit Salad

Why not get a bit fruity and integrate a game of Fruit Salad as part of your lesson plan? The Fruit Salad Game is a bit like musical chairs with a zesty twist. It can be played as a whole class or in large groups and is ideal for lower years.

Brain Break Active Games for the Classroom

Chicken Evolution

The Chicken Evolution Active Game is a fun active game that can be used at the beginning of any lesson or part way through a lesson to avoid a lesson flop. This whole class game is suitable for upper years and is sure to get a few giggles as students evolve from a chicken into a supreme being.

Brain Break Active Games for the Classroom


Shazzam! is a twist on an old favourite Scissors, Paper, Rock. In Shazzam!, the objects are replaced with the characters Wizard, Giant and Knight. This is a great game for encouraging teamwork.

Brain Breaks Active Games in the Classroom

One Word Story

I love One Word Story! You can use this fun and active game at the beginning of a literacy lesson or at any time of the day when your class needs a brain break. Your students can let their creative imaginations so wild!! There’s a strong likelihood that silly sentences will creep into their creative thinking and there are sure to be classroom giggles. As an added extra, some of the creative thinking that your students use in this game might be transferable to their imaginative writing.

Brain Breaks Active Games for the Classroom

We have lovingly created 16 Brain Break Active Games for you to try out with your students. Don’t wait until the lesson flops, make a plan to incorporate some physical activity into your lesson and see the benefits.

My final thought of the day…imagine a staff meeting with an active game on the agenda! I say no more. My job here is done.


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