Your elementary students will be thrilled with this list of energizing brain breaks for 5th grade. Third and fourth graders will love them, too!

Whenever you see your learners zoning out … stop, and transition into one of these electrifying brain breaks for kids.

Related: For more ideas on streamlining routines and procedures in an elementary setting, visit the classroom management resources page.

Brain Breaks for 5th Grade

1. Act Out Actions in Descending Order.

Choose 5 digits (not including 0) in descending order.

For example…7-6-5-4-3.

Assign an action to each digit. Students perform each action in descending order.

Example: 7 bunny hops, 6 meows, 5 jumping jacks, 4 laps around the classroom, 3 squats. 

2. Add the Alphabet.

A = 1, B = 2,  C = 3,  D =4,  E = 5, F = 6, G = 7, H = 8,  I = 9, J = 10, K = 11, L = 12,  M = 13, N = 14,  O = 15,  P =16,  Q = 17, R = 18, S = 19, T = 20, U = 21, V = 22, W = 23, X = 24, Y = 25,  Z = 26

Ask your 5th graders the value of different words like…what’s the sum of your name?

Example: Emily: E = 5, M = 13, I = 9, L = 12, Y = 25

Emily = 64

For a challenge, have them multiply instead. (by hand or using calculators)

3. “Air Write” Spelling Words.

Sitting side by side with a partner (so that each can see what the other is doing), students take turns guessing word wall/spelling words written in the air using an index finger. 

4. Associate Words.

Provide a word to students.

One by one, each 5th grader names another term or phrase associated with the original word. 

No one can repeat a word/phrase. 

Example: The teacher says “planet”.

The first student might say, “Venus”, the 2nd might say, “universe”, the 3rd… “made of rock or gas”, etc. 

5. Balance a Book on Your Head.

Each child finds a light chapter or picture book and lines up behind a designated “starting point”. 

He/she attempts to cross the appointed “finish line” without the book falling. 

6. Blow Bubbles.

Purchase an inexpensive bottle of bubbles, or make your own bubbles soap mixture.

Go outside with the children, and allow them to take turns blowing bubbles using the stick that comes with the bubbles bottle.

Or simply allow them to enjoy bursting and running through the bubbles while you blow more and more. 

7. Calm the Mood With Heads Up, Seven Up.

Fifth grade kids (2nd, 3rd, and 4th too) LOVE this game which has a suspense element to it!

See this brief video with clear instructions about how to play

8. Captivate with I Spy Game.

This brain break for kids is not only good for resting the brain between learning activities but serves well as an end-of-day filler for those last few moments right before the dismissal bell sounds.

Take a look at all the different ways to play I Spy.

9. Challenge Them With Rock, Paper, Scissors.

After choosing two individuals to begin, students recite, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot!”

As they say the word “shoot”, each person forms his/her hand as a “rock” (fist), “paper”(flat hand with palm down), or “pair of scissors” (both index and middle fingers extended).

To win, one hand formation has to “defeat” the other: paper covers rock, rock crushes the scissors, and the scissors cut the paper. 

The winner of that round then competes with another student. Continue the game like this until only one person remains.

10. Clap (Or Stomp) Syllables.

One at a time, call out a grade-appropriate term. Learners clap or stomp the syllables for each word.

To make this brain break for kids more challenging, include multi-syllabic words. 

11. Color.

Coloring is therapeutic, and even 4th and 5th grade kids still love to do it!

Simply print 2 to 3 different kinds of coloring pages. Then let them color to their hearts’ content. 

12. Communicate in Sign Language.

Google a few simple words in sign language.

Then teach those terms or phrases to students. Encourage learners to share any words they know in sign language.

13. Compete With Musical Chairs.

Kids of all ages love musical chairs, and I guarantee yours will love this brain break.

For a refresher on how the game is played, take a look at this fun Musical Chairs video for kids.

14. Conquer a Sudoku Puzzle As a Class.

Sudoku puzzles serve as great academic challenges for 5th graders because they promote deep critical thinking.

Build teamwork by completing a Sudoku puzzle online as a class.

Warning… this brain break for 5th grade kids becomes addictive!

15. Dance to a Favorite Tune.

Turn on a favorite tune of students, and give them 5 minutes or so to dance their stresses away. 

16. Develop Critical Thinking Skills w/ Human Tic-Tac-Toe.

Transform a classic game into a kinesthetic team-building brain break activity.

See how to play Human Tic-Tac-Toe.

17. Distinguish Between True and False.

Beforehand, gather a couple of dozens of fun facts or trivia. Locate these facts using a search engine such as Google, or ask your school’s librarian for book recommendations.

It’s best if your elementary learners are unfamiliar with the majority of the facts/trivia.

Take half of those statements, and reword/rephrase them in order to make them false. 

One at a time, share each statement with students.

If learners think the statement is true, they place hands on their head. If they think the sentence is false, hands go behind their backs.

Now reveal the answer.

Those with an incorrect response sit down, and the others keep playing until only one person is left standing.

18. Draw/Sketch.

Provide a piece of drawing paper to all, and encourage them to unleash their artistic side.

You could even tell them a scenario and have them draw what they visualize. Afterwards, compare drawings. 

19. Do Wall Push-Ups.

For this simple brain break activity for kids, each individual finds a place to stand against the classroom wall, facing it.

After you model how to perform a wall push-up, the children complete as many wall push-ups as possible in 1 minute.

20. Dunk It.

This is one of those brain breaks for 5th graders that even your most reluctant students will love.

Divide your little ones into 2 teams. Each team stands in separate parallel lines, all bodies facing the same direction.

About 10 feet in front of the first child in each line, place a basket (1 basket per team). These baskets represent hoops.

Crumple 4 pieces of paper to serve as “balls”, with each team taking two balls each.

Possessing more than 1 ball keeps the game moving quickly as the next student in line doesn’t have to wait for someone to fetch the ball just thrown.

Now, the first-in-line students from each team grab a “ball”.

You ask a question about anything. (Fun facts and/or trivia are always fun!) The two compete to answer first and correctly.

Each will have an opportunity to throw the “ball” into the hoop, but the one who answers correctly and fastest will have two (2) opportunities to dunk the “ball”.

Play until every child on each team has had a chance to throw.

The team with the most “balls” making it into the hoop wins.

21. Exchange Random Thoughts with Inside/Outside Circles.

Assign each elementary student a number, either 1 or 2. All 1s group together, and all 2s group. 

Each group forms a circle, with 2s inside of the 1s circle.

The inner group faces outward, and the outer circle faces inward. A child from the inner circle must directly face another from the outer circle.

At your signal, children from the inner group share any thoughts with the child in front of them. After about a minute, the other student shares his/her thoughts while the other listens.

For more structure, assign a topic to discuss.

After both have had an opportunity to share, signal again.  The outer circle will rotate to the right. (Only one circle needs to rotate.)

With a new partner, students repeat the process. 

22. Float a Balloon.

Blow up and tie 1 to 2 balloons.

Standing up, students randomly pass the balloons from one person to the other, without allowing them to hit the floor.

Do this for about 1 to 2 minutes.

This fun brain break exercise for kids keeps them attentive.

23. Freeze Dance.

Play a favorite tune, and pause the song every few seconds or minutes.

Upon pausing, students must freeze for an unspecified amount of time. Resume the music, and they keep dancing.

Repeat as many times as you feel is needed for your youngsters to release stress. 

24. Get Silly With Alliteration Tales.

Take 26 small note cards, and write on each one (1) letter of the alphabet. Place all the note cards in a bag or basket.

Now write on the board these suggested categories: “First name“, “Last name“, “City/country/state“, “Color“, and “Food“.

You can have as many categories as you like, and feel free to change the types of categories.

Then randomly choose a letter from a bag.

Choose a student (or a group) to complete the categories with something that begins with that respective letter.

For example, if the letter “S” is pulled, a student might say…

“Shameka” (First name), “Summers” (Last name), “San Francisco” (City), “Silver” (Color), and “Salmon” (Food).

The child now makes a silly sentence/scenario using all the words.

Example: Shameka Summers from San Francisco drives a silver car and likes to eat salmon.

Afterwards, pull another letter from the bag, and continue the process with another individual.

Encourage learners to be creative when creating their sentences/scenarios.

25. Hold a Yoga Pose.

Demonstrate a yoga pose for kids. (You can do this via Google Images or YouTube).

Now challenge them to see who can maintain that pose the longest. The one who holds the longest with good form receives bragging rights. 🙂 

26. Hop on One (1) Foot.

Set a timer for one (1) minute. Students hop on one (1) foot for the entire minute, if they can.

Afterwards, reset the timer, switching to the other foot. 

27. Hurl Snowballs.

Beforehand, grab as many pieces of 8.5 x 11 paper that correspond to the number of learners. (Recycled paper is good for this.)

On each paper, write a fun action such as hop on one (1) foot, pat your head, blink super fast, etc. It’s best not to repeat actions.

Afterwards, crumple each paper into a ball. Randomly distribute a “ball” to each person.

On the count of 3, students hurl the balls at a classmate. Then everyone must quickly grab a ball.

One at a time, they open their balls and complete the action for all to see. This brain break for kids creates much silliness and causes great laughter!

28. Invent a Secret Handshake.

In groups of 4 or 5, teams invent a secret handshake. Throughout the week, one group per day teaches the handshake to the class. 

29. Jump Rope Skip Counting.

Grab jump ropes, and head outside.

Challenge your 5th graders to jump rope while skip counting by 100, 150, or a more challenging number. 

30. Kickbox.

Stretch and tone muscles by practicing a few kid-friendly kickboxing moves.

This brain break activity is best done in a setting with lots of open space between individuals.

31. Measure Your Height.

This brain break for kids is fun to do once a quarter or semester because they’ll love to see how much they’ve grown!

All you do is tell them to line up from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest. 

To challenge 4th or 5th grade students, have them measure their heights using measuring tape.

32. Move Like An Animal.

Carve out 5 minutes or so for kids to use their imagination to become various animals.

Examples…

They’ll slither like a snake, prance like a deer, hop like a kangaroo, swim like a fish, stomp like an elephant, etc.

33. Name States, Cities, Countries.

Starting with the letter A, call on the first child to name a state, city, or country that begins with the respective letter. If they can’t name a place, they are out of the game. Move to the next student.

When he/she answers correctly, go to the next person with the letter B.

Continue until the alphabet is complete or only one student remains in the game.

34. Order By Criteria.

Here’s an easy break break activity for 5th graders that requires zero materials.

Instruct learners to order themselves by criteria you provide such as by height or birthday month/day.

35. Organize a Scavenger Hunt. 

Take an informal hunt around the school searching for parallel lines, perpendicular lines, certain geometric shapes, objects made of a particular material, different forms of text, etc. 

36. Participate in Charades.

Call on a student, and have him/her act out a person, place, or thing.

Small groups compete to guess. Whichever group answers correctly first chooses someone from its team to perform the next act for the class.

Continue as such. 

37. Pass the Ball…Quietly.

This break break activity is ideal for 5th grade kids.

While seated on top of desks, they gently toss around a beach ball.

Rules…

1) no one can speak,

2) the beach ball must never touch the floor, and

3) students can’t throw the ball back to the individual who threw it to them.

Anyone breaking any of the rules is out of the game and has to sit in his/her chair.

As students sit out, the game becomes more challenging due to distance between desks and having fewer participants.

38. Place Heads Down.

For 5 or 10 minutes, students place their heads down on desks and rest. It’s simply a time to relax and reflect. 

39. Play Classic Games.

The “mother” of all brain breaks, classic games never go out of style.

Have fun with Red Rover; Simon Says; Duck, Duck, Goose; Red Light, Green Light, etc. 

40. Point & Describe.

Point to an object in the classroom. Then call on a child to describe it using 4 to 5 adjectives.

For a challenge, encourage more detailed descriptions utilizing verbs, adverbs, and/or phrases.

41. Practice Yoga.

Carve out time during the day to take a brain break that consists of yoga for kids

42. Pretend to Cook & Guess.

For this kid-friendly brain break activity, one student stands in front of the class. He or she then mimics preparing some type of dish.

Classmates guess what food he’s “cooking”. Whoever guesses correctly “cooks” next. 

43. Race to Complete a Hidden Picture Puzzle. 

Print and make enough copies of Hidden Picture Puzzles.

After grouping learners, have them compete to determine which group can find all the objects within a hidden puzzle the quickest.

It’s worth purchasing an entire book of these puzzles because 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders LOVE to complete these interactive brain break worksheets.

44. Read & Act. 

While reading a book as a class, upon seeing a verb, students act out the word. 

45. Repeat the Message With “Telephone” Game.

Sit on the carpet in a circle. Rotating clockwise, the teacher whispers a short message to the student next to her.

That child then repeats the message to the next classmate. Continue until the message reaches the last child who then must repeat out loud the phrase.

Did the message change from the original? 

46. Rub Heads & Pat Bellies.

For one (1) minute, challenge your little ones to rub their heads while simultaneously patting their stomachs.

Afterwards, switch. Rub bellies while simultaneously patting heads.

Can they do it? 

47. Run Around at Recess.

Head outside for fresh air and extra play time. This brain break activity NEVER becomes boring for kids.

48. Pull a Brain Break Activity Card.

Select their favorite brain breaks, and write each on its own note card. Place all the cards in a bag or basket.

Then when it’s time to release stress, randomly grab a card from the bag. Learners perform that activity or task.

49. Share a Fun Read-Aloud.

Save a few of your favorite read aloud books for brain breaks.

With them on the carpet, share an adventure-filled text that takes listeners to another world. 

50. Sing a Favorite Song.

Choose a favorite tune, and listen to your 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders enthusiastically stretch their vocal cords. 

51. Spell With Sparkle.

Students sit in a circle. Choose a spelling or word wall word.

Call on someone to say the first letter of the word. Clockwise, the next individual provides the next letter in the sequence.

After all letters have been correctly provided, the following student must say “Sparkle”. This signals that the word is complete.

Anyone who misses a letter or doesn’t know when to say “Sparkle” is out of the game. Those who remain continue spelling additional words.

52. Spell Your Name On a Partner’s Back.

With a partner, students spell their names or a spelling word on their partner’s back. It’s best to pair same genders.

53. Stretch It Out.

Led by the teacher, the kids perform a few stretches such as touching toes, reaching to the sky, twisting at the waist, etc. 

54. Teach New Words in a Foreign Language.

Teach a few words of a foreign language such as French, Mandarin, Portuguese, etc.

For added fun, practice word pronunciations using Google Translator’s voice feature.

55. Test Trivia With Four Corners.

Label the four corners of the classroom with signs that say “1”, “2”, “3”, and “4”. Now ask a trivia question, and provide 4 answer choices.

Fifth graders move towards the corresponding number corner that aligns with their chosen response.

Use a search engine to find kid-friendly trivia questions. 

56. Throw a Mini Dance Party.

Create a short playlist that’s kid-friendly plus high-energy. Press play, crank it up a bit, and let them dance, dance, dance!

57. Toss Around a “Hot Potato”.

Play music as the children toss around a beanbag or “hot potato”. The child holding the “hot potato” when the music pauses is out of the game.

Continue until only one person, the winner, remains. 

58. “Travel” the Room to Show What You Know (AKA “Around the World”)

Everyone sits at their desks except the “traveler” plus the child with whom he/she is competing.

The “traveler” stands next to a seated classmate who immediately stands up beside him/her.

Now, the teacher says a multiplication fact. The competitor who answers first and correctly travels to the next individual in order to compete. The losing student sits down at the desk.

The game continues until everyone has had a chance to compete.

The winner is the one who “traveled” the farthest, meaning to every student, eventually making it back to his/her desk. 

59. Workout.

Break a sweat with this high-energy brain break for 5th grade kids.

Complete each of the following moves for 30-45 seconds:

  • skipping
  • jogging in place
  • burpees
  • jumping jacks
  • squats

Add more actions depending on the age and physical fitness level of your little ones.

60. Write Backwards.

On a loose-leaf sheet of paper, challenge your elementary students to write their names or a short message backwards in print or in cursive.

Then they’ll have a partner turn the paper over and hold it up to the light in order to read it. A mirror works great for reading the message also.

This brain break exercise is an absolute hit with 4th and 5th graders! 

61. Write With Non-Dominant Hand.

Stretch students’ mental muscles by challenging them to write a phrase or two using their non-dominant hand. Watch them happily struggle! 🙂 

Your Fifth Graders Will Love These Brain Breaks

Routinely re-energizing, refocusing, and disconnecting from the seriousness of learning is essential.

This list of brain breaks for elementary kids, targeted specifically to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, provides fun outlets they can perform throughout the week.

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