Ideas for maximizing mental breaks kids can take in between learning tasks
Stratford School’s Mary Kiely, Director of Lower School, and Melissa Sidebotham, Principal
With children on devices for extended periods throughout the day learning at home, it is essential for them to disengage from devices and take intentional brain breaks. It’s also important to find ways to calm minds before and after school. Creative outlets can be an effective way to prepare for the day ahead, as well as provide a meaningful and blissful way to end the day. Here are a few ideas to provide their brain a necessary time out and all while having some fun!
1. Play with PlayDough!
Try making your own playdough and playing with it! There is something so calming about making a batch of playdough and then having the opportunity to do what you want with it. You can discover the therapeutic qualities that come from rolling it, pounding it, making designs, and yes, you can even make peanut butter playdough and eat it! You are never too old to play with playdough! For those with nut allergies you can use this great recipe with flour at https://www.iheartnaptime.net/play-dough-recipe/
• 3 ½ cups peanut butter
• 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 3 ½ cups honey
• Cream together; the confectioners’ sugar and peanut butter. Beat in the honey and fold in the mixture. You can freeze it until you are ready to use it if you wish.
2. Dance Party!
Turn on your favorite age appropriate tunes and let loose! Spotify, Amazon Music, and XM Radio all have good kid friendly options. Mom/Dad don’t forget to join in. Nothing turns a mood around faster than a good beat and some silly dance moves.
3. Take a Mindfulness Break!
Fablefy.com is chock full of books, printables, and videos. You can quickly access all 114 videos on their YouTube channel: Fablefy - The Whole Child. Practice a quick body scan, balloon breaths to ease anxiety. They have activities for young children, teens, and adults. Shilpi Mahajan, the founder, is an inspiration.
4. Plan Family Evening Events!
Yes, mom and dad are trying to work during the day, and so are the children. This makes coming together as a family even more significant in the evening. Plan a family magic night. Make an invitation with paper and markers and pass out your invites to your family. Come up with a couple of magic tricks that you will show them at the event. You can invite other family members to show their magical talent as well. If magic isn’t your thing, you can do the same thing with family comedy night. You can tell all of your favorite jokes. For an added treat, Zoom in grandparents to share the show and laugh along with you!
5. Indulge Your Creative Side!
If you are looking for a longer break, a guided Art Date with Miss Kate is just what you need. She has a wonderful YouTube channel called PeaceLove Art with 53 videos that are perfect for students K-8, or anyone who wants to try something new.
6. Dive into a Book!
Looking for an escape from your daily life? Jump into someone else’s for a chapter or two. There are so many great options for picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, and novels these days. Want to check out a publisher that specifically lifts up educators? Look at EduMatch Books! They have some fantastic books that are perfect for an escape but also teach a lesson. Some great titles from EduMatch include One Drop of Kindness by Jeff Kubiak, Play? Yay! Baby Talk by Breann Fennell, Fur Friends Forever by LaTezeon Humphrey Balentine, and the I’m Sorry Story by Melody McAllister. (Also, be on the lookout for a graphic novel called The Lab Coat Kids: Monster in the Hall coming out this fall by Melissa Sidebotham and Jennifer Reagan.)
7. Get Outside and Play!
Feel the sun on your face. Play with the hose. Make a mud pie. For a good socially distant but social activity, go for a bike ride with friends! Wear your mask. You will get exercise, be able to chat, laugh, and interact with people without getting too close.
8. Channel your Inner Chef!
Try being creative in the kitchen. Write down some recipe ideas you have. Ask mom and dad if you can pick up the ingredients the next time you go to the grocery store. When you create a recipe you like, you can write it on a recipe card and add it to your recipe collection. Have recipe swaps with other friends.
9. Help your Community!
Write letters and/or draw pictures for the local senior living center. If you can knit or crochet, you can make some blankets and pillows for the local animal shelter or home for community members in need.
10. Try Scrapbooking!
Pictures are not only fun to take and capture memories that last a lifetime, but they are fun to arrange in unique and colorful ways. You can be creative with fun captions that explain what was happening in the picture. You can draw or cut paper for creative backgrounds. Ask mom and dad if you can have pictures to get creative with. Be sure to get your parents’ permission before using any photos for scrapbooking.