Brain Breaks Part 8: Don’t forget to BREATHE

People who observe my Brain Breaks often comment on the high noise level involved. If you are positioned in your school next to a less than forgiving history teacher who complains about the noise level of your TOTALLY AWESOME and engaging CI classroom, then doing a Brain Break like evolution or Rock Paper Scissors serpent may not be the best idea. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them! You ABSOLUTELY MUST! I shocked a few people this summer in Denver when I stood all my students up in my learning lab in the height of their excitement when the conversation was really engaging, and I told them to close their eyes and put their hands over their heads and just breathe with me.


Remembering to take moments to just PAUSE is so important.

Pauses are crucial.

Pauses are necessary.

Pauses are powerful.

Pauses are peaceful.

Pauses are calming.

Justin Slocom Bailey recently wrote a wonderful blog on pausing and going SLOW. My teaching style can be overwhelming for some of my students. If I see a student become overwhelmed with my enthusiasm and eagerness (the reason I stopped at iFLT), I can alleviate their stress by simply offering a few seconds of breathing. That student won’t know it was for them, but the whole class benefits from a short Brain Break. The whole class also appreciates a pause to soak it all in. Finally, I need it. It is nice for me to take a second to breathe and refocus my energy and think about what direction we are going next.


These breaks don’t have to be short Brain Bursts either! Stretch it out! Take 60 seconds! You’ll find that the peace you and your students feel afterwards is incredible. I must admit that even though I love the crazy Brain Breaks, throwing these in there every now and then is awesome! Here are a variety of ways I use breathing Brain Breaks in my classroom:

  1. Students stay seated, tell them to close their eyes and say the word “breathe” in your target language. Then, make a loud breathing noise in with your nose and make an equally as loud exhale sound with your mouth, that way they can keep their eyes closed but you are leading them. Do that three times.
  2. Stand students up. Tell them to raise their arms to the sky as they breathe in and bring them down to their sides as they breathe out.
  3. One of my dearest friends at school who is the most incredible theatre teacher I’ve ever met taught me this one. Outside of my class, I teach students to use this before tests or if they seem nervous about something. Stand students up. Cross your right hand over your body and hold your left earlobe and do the same with your left hand on your right earlobe and then bend your knees and squat and breathe in as you do this and then as you come up breathe out. Do this several times. This is also a great strategy for kids with ADD. I like to have the kids close their eyes after I demo it so they aren’t giggling and laughing and embarrassed.
  4. Stand students up and tell them to put both hands on their ribs and close their eyes. Now tell them to pretend there is a balloon in their chest sitting between their ribs. They should attempt to fill the balloon as they breathe in and out
  5. Stand students up and tell them to plug their ears. Tell them to breathe through their nose and out through their mouth and focus on the sound they hear as they breathe. Set a timer for 30-60 seconds and they should spend the whole time focusing on nothing but the sound of their slow breathing.

There you have it! Breathing Brain Breaks!

Until next time,



La Maestra Loca



  1. Muchísimas gracias. Tu siempre tienes tan buenas ideas. Feliz fin de semana, ya que este es uno mas largo. Hasta pronto.


  2. I love these ideas, can’t get enough of ’em! I just wanted to share an idea I collected from someone, somewhere. Unfortunately I have not a single clue who to give credit to, but one teacher uses a Hoberman sphere to visually have students breathe in and breathe out. Then, eventually, she gives the students a chance to lead the breathing sessions using the sphere. I thought it was a great way to transition to calm at the end of class when you have to give your students back to their homeroom teacher 🙂 Thanks for all your wonderful posts!

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