Your elementary students will be thrilled with this list of energizing brain breaks for 5th grade, 4th, and 3rd.
Kids today deal with so many academic pressures, so it’s only logical that they take much-needed time-outs occasionally in order to regroup and refocus.
For upper elementary students, especially 5th graders, taking a brain break is even more important because their workload can be quite intense for elementary kids.
So if you’re a classroom teacher, bookmark this page.
Whenever you see your 3rd, 4th, or 5th graders zoning out, stop, and transition into one of these electrifying brain breaks for kids!
Related: See more ideas for streamlining routines and procedures in an elementary setting by visiting our classroom management resources page.
Brain Breaks for 5th Grade Plus 3rd/4th Grade Kids Too!
1. Act Out Actions in Descending Order.
Choose 5 digits (not including 0) in descending order.
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 students, 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!
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.
Students clap or stomp the syllables for each word.
To make this brain break for kids more challenging, include multi-syllabic words.
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 your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders 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 your students 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.
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.
Provide a piece of drawing paper to students, 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.
A simple brain break activity for kids, each student finds a place to stand against the classroom wall, facing it.
After you model how to perform a wall push-up, students complete as many wall push-ups as possible in 1 minute.
20. Dunk It.
This is one of those brain breaks for 5th grade kids that even your most reluctant students will love, Dunk It is arguably the “king” of all brain breaks for elementary-aged learners.
Divide your elementary students into 2 teams. Each team stands in separate parallel lines, all bodies facing the same direction.
About 10 feet in front of the first students 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 students from each team take a “ball”.
You ask a question about anything. (Fun facts and/or trivia are always fun!) The two students 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 a student 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.
If you’d like 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 one (1) to two (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 one (1) to two (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 students 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 student 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 student.
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 determine who in the class 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 students you have. (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 student.
On the count of 3, students hurl the balls at a classmate. Then everyone must quickly grab a ball.
One at a time, students open their balls and complete the action for all to see. This brain break for kids creates much silliness and 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.
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 kids.
31. Measure Your Height.
This brain break for kids is fun to do once a quarter or semester because students love to see how much they’ve grown!
All you do is tell the kids to line up from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest.
To challenge 4th or 5th grade students, you could actually 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!
They’ll slither like a snake, prance like a deer, hop like a kangaroo, swim like a fish, stomp like an elephant, etc. Designate places for them to move towards.
33. Name States, Cities, Countries.
Starting with the letter A, call on the first student 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 student 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, students 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 these 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 for kids, 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 student 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 students, 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 kids (even 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 student then repeats the message to the next student.
Continue until the message reaches the last student 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 students 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 your students’ 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 brain break activity.
Doing break breaks for kids using this method keeps things interesting and fun!
49. Share a Fun Read-Aloud.
Save a few of your favorite read aloud books for brain breaks.
With kids on the carpet, share an adventure-filled read aloud that takes readers 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 a student to say the first letter of the word. Clockwise, the next student provides the next letter in the sequence.
After all letters have been correctly provided, the student that follows must say “Sparkle”. This signals that the word is complete.
Any student 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, students 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 students 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.
Students step to the corresponding number corner that aligns with their chosen response.
Pretty much any search engine is your friend when it comes to finding 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 students 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 child, the winner, remains.
58. “Travel” the Room to Show What You Know (AKA “Around the World”)
All students sit at their desks except for the “traveler” and the child with whom he/she is competing.
The “traveler” stands next to a student who then stands up.
Now, the teacher says a multiplication fact. The child who answers first and correctly travels to the next student in order to compete. The losing student sits down at the desk.
The game continues until every student has had a chance to compete.
The winner is the child who “traveled” the furthest, meaning to every student, eventually making it back to his/her desk.
Break a sweat with this high-energy brain break for 5th grade kids.
Complete each of the following moves for 30-45 seconds:
- jogging in place
- jumping jacks
Add more actions depending on the age and physical fitness level of your students.
60. Write Backwards.
This cool and unique brain break activity for kids is so much fun!
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 well for reading the message also.
This brain break exercise is a hit with older kids, especially 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! 🙂
Wrapping Up: Brain Breaks for 5th Grade Kids Plus 3rd/4th
Of course we want our elementary students to work hard and put forth maximum effort, but there’s definitely a time to pause.
Routinely re-energizing, refocusing, or just 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 that learners can perform in order to step away for a moment from the structure of class work.
Any other brain breaks for 5th grade kids (3rd and 4th too) you’d like added to this list?
Share in the comments below!
Off to a brain break I go…