Having returned to work this year in a Special Education setting, I have learnt just how important it is to ‘timetable’ movement or sensory breaks into our day. Research has shown a link between thinking and movement and also demonstrates how short bursts of energy can improve learning and engagement. With the children I am currently working with, you cannot expect them to sit in a chair or on the floor for more than 10minutes (and those are the higher functioning children). For some of those that I teach, we timetable in trampoline time, exercise-ball time, swing time or sensory based activities such as play-dough, sand and/or water-play or shaving cream. These allow them the opportunity to move around, have the sensory stimulation they require to focus better, or sometimes we use these as a calming tool, where they are either over-excited, stressed or anxious about something that has occurred.
But it can get tricky to provide these breaks when inclement weather occurs – and I am not just talking wet weather (because some of our kids don’t mind getting wet!). If it’s excessively windy or really hot (and we can get a run of hot days here in Wollongong, Australia) you can’t go outside between 10am-2pm! So what to do for children that require these breaks every 15minutes of so? This is where a program such as GoNoodle is fantastic!
GoNoodle is a free brain break teacher resource that will help your students be more engaged, energised and productive – and I’m not just talking about students with special needs. This program would work really well in a Primary and even lower level high school classroom. The hard work of trawling the internet to find brain-break style activities is done for you, and all activities are in one convenient program that’s FREE to join!!
There is a variety of activities to meet the needs of your students at different times of day or for a change in situation. Activities range from dancing, running and jumping, to yoga-style stretch with Maximo and deep breathing bubble blowing.
Some of the brain break activities on the GoNoodle site.
Where else are you going to find these hit songs in the one place? I’m sure one, if not all will motivate your children and have each and everyone of them out of their seats, bopping around!
Along with the compliation of songs, including ‘Happy’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’ (a personal favourite) which can be used as part of your morning circle routine, or as a session break, a favourite for a calming tool is ‘Air Time’. Now while it is an American based activity where students use deep breathing to blow the bubble across the states of America, it is still a good activity to use with children in Australia, as it will encourage them to broaden their knowledge of America whilst encouraging them to develop good self-calming and breathing techniques, which can be used in stressful situations before or during exams and tests.
So do yourself a favour, get on over to GoNoodle, sign-up and start using their brain breaks as part of your daily activities. You'll notice a difference in your kids, and the positive effects this simple act can have.