Brain Break Games

Brain break games are another brain break activity that is great for all ages. You can use movement games that are age-appropriate to meet the needs of preschoolers, middle schoolers, elementary school, students, high school students, and even beyond.

And this blog post will discuss games that act as brain breaks and can be used to incorporate Heavy work input, proprioceptive, sensory systems, vestibular, sensory input, visual input and more.

Also check out some of our quick brain breaks as they are easy to use in various game activities, too!

brain break games

Brain break games

One of the benefits of brain break games is that self-regulation is addressed, but also beyond emotional and social regulation is the ability to improve attention and focus.

So for these reasons, brain break games are a great activity for recess or for times when a classroom brain break needs to focus and pay attention.

Some brain break games are classic games that you and I know from our childhood. These are recess, games or party games that get kids moving, but also engage all of the sensory systems including proprioception and vestibular input.

As a therapist, I love to use brain break games as a warm-up for therapy sessions or a way to calm the child down before attend sending them back to the classroom. Not only that, but using a game version of a coping tool is so helpful for children. So let’s get on with our brain break break games for at each age

Brain break games for toddlers 

The toddler years are all about exploring, following directions gaining self-confidence and learning through experience.

These brain break games for toddlers, allow kids to improve gross motor skills and fine motor skills, but also explore and learn about the world around them. 

Try these brain break games for toddlers

  • Follow the Leader,
  • Catching a ball
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Sensory bins
  • Follow the leader (activities)
  • Dance parties
  • play blowing bubbles playing with Play-Doh coloring
  • Throwing a ball into a target
  • Reading a book
  • Snuggling
  • Tickling
  • Sensory play

Brain break games for preschoolers

During the preschool years, we love to see play as the main source of learning and skill development. Activities for preschool that engage, stronger hands and muscles also incorporating self-regulation is important for this age. Many of the fine motor activities for preschoolers that we’ve shared on the site are great movement activities for this age.

There is much social and emotional development happening during the preschool years, too so having self-regulation tools on hand is great because young children are not typically able to use these strategies just yet. Making it fun is key.

Some brain break games for Preschool include:

  • Animal walks
  • Duck duck, goose
  • Hot potato
  • Charades
  • Freeze dance
  • Red light, Green Light
  • Follow the Leader
  • The hokey pokey
  • Simon Says – Here are some great Simon Says commands in a variety of themes
  • Dance parties
  • Obstacle courses
  • Parachute
  • Sensory bins and sensory play

One last benefit for brain breaks for preschoolers is that when they play the games they are improving friendship skills, which is a great skill development in the preschool years.

Bring break games for elementary kids

We know the benefits of brain breaks in the classroom and adding some fun movement can help kids become engaged in because of the physical activity.

Some of these brain break games are great for recess or free time but also therapy sessions.

Brain break games for elementary start school students include: 

Brain break games for middle school

We know the benefits of brain breaks in the middle school. At this age kids are needing movement and activity, but also there is self regulation attention in organizational skill, emotional needs, mental health and wellbeing needs, as well as coping skills that need to be taught. 

Games for middle school include: 

  • Volleyball
  • Paper football
  • Dance break
  • Gaga ball
  • Flag football
  • Kickball
  • Floor hockey
  • Foursquare
  • Tag
  • Relay races

Brain break charades games 

Kids of all ages love to play charades and nice thing about charades is that you can encourage variety of movements and activities. Not only that, but charades offers gross motor coordination, creativity, imagination and problem-solving. This is a great group activity for students. 

Charade games that encourage movement include: 

  • Pretend to be a tree
  • Pretend to climb a tree
  • Pretending to be a flower,
  • Yoga poses
  • Do a specific dance
  • Pretend to run
  • Pretend to go fishing
  • Pretend to make a snowman
  • Pretend swimming
  • Actions like hopping, leaping, or jumping jacks
  • Shooting a basketball
  • Throwing a football
  • Catching a ball
  • Or, act out themes or actions of specific lessons from the classroom

Animal walk games for kids

It’s easy to incorporate activities like a balance beam, relay race, or obstacle courses into a motivating gamified activity. 

Simply create a challenge for kids, add a timer, and ask the students to beat a certain time. Or, you can race against the child on a scooter or by using specific gross motor coordination tasks that challenge motor skills. 

Try to use these animal walks in brain break games:

  • Crab walk
  • Bear walk
  • Elephant walk
  • Frog jump
  • Horse gallop
  • Duck walk
  • Snake slither
  • Gorilla walk
  • Penguin waddle
  • Butterfly fly
  • Bunny hop
  • Inchworm crawl

What are your favorite brain break games?

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

brain break games

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