In February of 2020, just a month before the world shut down, something had been heavy on my mind. The assistant principal at my school sat down with me and asked me my goals. And I let it out.
I wanted our kids to have more movement opportunities than just PE and recess. I’ve studied the subject enough to know the huge differences. I’ve watched my own young children at home and noticed how much better they do when they get plenty of opportunities to move and play. And my oldest would be starting Kindergarten at my school the next year. I wanted him to be able to get up and move throughout the day.
Our school has a great program for kids with high behavioral needs. We have a room where they can go to cool off when angry. And we have a trampoline they can go to periodically through the day for a break. But what about the kids who don’t have the behaviors and still have the needs? My son was going to be one of those kids.
I didn’t have a plan… just a big idea. Then a month later, school and everything else shut down.
Over the course of a year teaching online, I got really big into making interactive video games. It was an amazing way of getting kids excited to show up for PE on Zoom. But I had a bigger idea than that. I knew (or hoped) that the pandemic wouldn’t last forever. I didn’t want all this work to go to waste. Everything I made, I wanted it to work towards my goal. And now that I’ve got all these games, I have found the perfect use for them.
My Favorite Brain Breaks
1. Brain Breaks In the Classroom
Turns out that making games for limited space with no equipment is perfect for the classroom. When teachers are sensing the need for a brain break, they can just turn on a game or two, get their kids an opportunity to move. They’re also perfect for indoor recess.
By using the sharing feature in the PLAY: Interactive Arcade, I’m able to share all the games ad-free with every teacher in my school. They get all the best brain breaks and don’t have to mess around with YouTube.
I'm a huge proponent of PE and one of the best ways to advocate for my program is to get all the teachers in my school to see the benefits of physical activity for their students. When they have easy tools to give themselves a break, it becomes a no brainer. They don't have to plan, they just put it on and let the kids enjoy it.
Oh, and they're perfect for class parties too!
2. Brain Breaks for Behavior Interventions
These games have been total life savers for me. One day last week, I was trying to teach and had a couple students who were being incredibly disruptive. I turned on a game so the class could get moving while I had a conversation with those students.
Another time, I had a class that just wasn’t ready to focus. In the past, I’d get really frustrated and try to push my lesson through the madness. It wasn’t good. Now I just had everybody return to their spots and turned on Dynamic Stretches. It gave them something to do with zero instructions and allowed them to reset to the expectations in the gym. It also gave me a chance to calm myself.
3. Brain Breaks for Sub Plans
I have a great sub plan, but sometimes a class will come in and just not be okay. That’s when I have my subs go to Plan B. All students go back to their spots and they can do the games on the screen. It gives the sub a great fallback plan and keeps the kids from destroying relationships with others while I’m gone.
4. Brain Breaks for Cool Downs
I used to run my classes till the last minute and rush to clean up, line up, and get them out the door. But I began to notice that they’d carry all that energy back into the classroom. A couple years back, I started ending the class with some guided meditation. It was a huge success… but there were definitely kids who struggled with being still and quiet. I needed something that was relaxing and also gave them the choice to move if they wanted.
I got the idea for the Dynamic Stretches series and the Calming Cooldown video. When I put these on, I give my kids two expectations: voices off and stay in their spot. They can lay down and be mesmerized by the ink, dust, colors, etc. or they can get up and move along with the video.
It’s been an amazing way to end my class and transition them to the next space.
5. Brain Breaks for Warm Ups
I like to give my kids choices for warm ups. This year, it’s so easy to put a game on the screen for a warm up. They can choose that or any of my other warm up choices.
The Best Way to Use Brain Breaks
I wanted to make it as easy as possible for schools to get their student body moving. A School Membership to the Arcade makes it so easy for an entire school to have access to some of the best games available. All ad-free. And compared to other technology services schools pay for, it's an absolute steal. And it's built that way. The most important thing is that every kid, regardless of their school's budget, gets these opportunities.
More Brain Breaks
Of course, I love the content I create but there are other amazing Brain Break creators out there. I recently added one of my favorites, Tyler Gates (aka PE with Mr G) to the PLAY: Interactive Arcade. He’s got amazing games that are a nice compliment to the ones I’ve been releasing.
Beyond the two of us, I highly recommend checking out these other creators: