Energy Breaks

I teach 6th grade which means I’m working with kids with an attention span of about 12 minutes (if that) and as anyone who has spent time with adolescents knows they haven’t developed tact yet.  They make it very clear when they are getting bored.
Sometimes it is my fault for not planning an engaging enough lesson.  Sometimes they aren’t putting forth a lot of effort trying to focus.  Sometimes it’s just a result of sitting for hours at a time.  Regardless, I’ve been working this year on adding energy breaks a couple times an hour.  Usually these are quick moments for the kids to move while transitioning to another part of the lesson.  Sometimes the kids do cheers or sing songs (thanks to my colleagues for teaching these to me).  Other times there are more thought out energy activities (races to the board, etc.)
My favorite, go-to energy break right now involves passing out papers.  You may be familiar with the “nose goes rule” where someone shouts nose goes and everyone puts their hand on their nose.  The last person to do this has to go up and get the papers.  This has evolved into some great energy break activities.  Here are three variations I use to get the kids moving:

  1. Touch 3 walls and sit- The kids have to touch 3 walls before they sit down.  The last one in their group still standing has to get the papers.
  2. High five 3 people (not at your table) and sit- This involves the kids getting up and high fiving different people in the room.  Who doesn’t enjoy a high five?  The last person to sit has to get the papers.
  3. Find someone else with the same birth month as you and sit- The kids have to talk to each other to figure out when their birthdays are.  Again, the last person to sit in each group has to get the papers.

There are tons of variations you can do with this activity.  We have been doing this for months and the kids still don’t care that it would be so much easier to just grab the papers from the front table.  They just want to move.