After reading about primacy and recency, I realized this was a great way to plan my lessons. Even with a 30 minute period, students could only focus on a task for about 10 minutes before needing a change. Enter the brain break.
Not only do brain breaks give students a chance to rest and recharge their brains, but also it is a way for me to incorporate cultural songs and ideas and to review previous lessons. Here are a few of my favorites:
This is a popular one with students as they get to talk (and think about) chocolate. It has a simple rhythm and simple hand gestures, but it gives them a chance to interact with a friend during class.
Choco choco la la
Choco choco te te
Choco Choco la te
This is a new find and the students love it! Again, simple words and gestures make it easy to introduce and do during class and it’s just fun! (The action starts about 2 minutes in.)
Eh, eh, eh
Everyone loves a good hand game and this one is no different! There are three parts to this, the second being quite long. While there is not a lot to the game, I love that the students learn the words associated with the different actions. As they move their hands, they have to say the words. For now, I only have them do part A, but as they get better I may add in part B and the finale. (Start video 1 min in.)
This is a game we used to play as part of the color unit, but our color unit has been absorbed in other places (thankfully). Kids simply listen for the color (busca algo rojo) and walk around the room to find it. There are three rules: no running, no talking, and no touching other people. It’s a quick and simple way to get them moving and spot check for if they remember their colors. If you want to change it up, have them look for objects or letters.
Body Rock, Paper, Scissors
This is your typical rock, paper, scissors game, except that students use their entire bodies to form each object. Before playing, I go over each word and each movement with the students. We practice them in different orders and then in order. When they are ready to play, students close their eyes and say: “roca, papel, tijeras, ¡ya!”. On ya they pick a movement and open their eyes. You can teach phrases like “I win” or “rock beats scissors” as an added bonus.
Another great way to review vocabulary is with statue. I name an object and students freeze in a way that demonstrates that word. Sometimes, I throw in feelings or adjectives as well.
When introducing the brain break, it can take a few extra minutes out of class, but once students know the song or game, all they require is the title of the activity to get going. It is worth the minutes up front to help long-term class participation and interest.
These are just a few of the many brain breaks out there. Not all are specific to the World Language classroom, but they can be adapted quite easily. Another option is to take a favorite rhyme or hand game in your target language or to search in your language via YouTube or Google.
No matter what you find, find a way to let students move and have a good time.