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Help for Your Fidgety Students

By Genia Connell on February 26, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

I’ve often said that I teach third grade because I have the same attention span as my students. During lengthy meetings or professional development sessions, I am guilty of being a clock-watcher — just waiting and wondering when the next break will be. Now, if I feel that way, I can only imagine how my third graders must feel on those especially long mornings or afternoons when we don’t have recess or a special planned.

Over the years, I've found taking a short brain break to get the kids up and moving is the perfect way to help my students reenergize and refocus on their work. Of course, each year I have those students who need a bit more activity or stimulation than a recess or brain break provides. For them, I make special accommodations that allow them the activity they need throughout the day without distracting the students around them. 

This week I’ve called upon some of my favorite teachers from kindergarten through fifth grade to help me share what we do to provide our kids with just the right amount of activity or sensory stimulation they need in their classrooms — real teachers with tips you can use today. Watch the video below to see these great tips. Mobile users can access the tips for wiggly students video here.



Tools to Help Fidgety Kids

Click on each link on the right to learn more. 

    Help for your fidgety students Kinetic Sand
5 minute hourglass, help for your fidgety students 5-Minute Hourglass
Bumpy Seats: Help for your fidgety students Bumpy Seat 
Cushiony seats: Help for your fidgety students Cushiony Seats
Stability ball chair: Help for your fidgety students Stability Ball Chair
Help for your fidgety students Velcro Dots
Help for your fidgety students--stress balls Stress Balls

Help for your fidgety students

Help for your fidgety students

Carpets to help kids stay in their spots

Reading By the Book Rug

Fun with Phonics Rug



A Few Great Links for Brain Breaks 

One of my favorite websites for brain breaks is the free resource, GoNoodle. After registering your class, you pick a classroom "champ" avatar who motivates your students. You can choose from brain breaks that can calm your classroom with deep breathing or energize your students with aerobic exercise. My third graders love the highly active videos like Zumbazoka and hurdles, but there is something for every classroom on GoNoodle. 

Go Noodle Brain Breaks-free website

YouTube is a great resource for fun dance videos and kids yoga. The Just Dance series has many great videos that are kid appropriate — they were linked to Lynsey Moore's DJ Board in the video, as well as what you saw Brian Smith's kids dancing up a storm to during his "Dance Party in Kindergarten!

"Just Dance Kids 2: I Am a Gummy Bear"                  Just Dance 4: One Direction-What Makes You Beautiful
"Just Dance 2014: Ylvis What Does the Fox Say?" "Namaste Yoga 31: Kids Yoga"
"Just Dance 2: Five Little Monkeys" Cosmic Kids Yoga


My Best Tip for Showing YouTube Videos to Your Class

As you know, YouTube videos are great for brain breaks, but they are often filled with ads, and content can pop up unexpectedly that you don't necessarily want your class seeing. To prevent that from happening, I recommend using SafeShare.tv. It is a free website that allows you to input the link to a YouTube video and the video will play without any ads or pop-ups. Give it a try — it's wonderful for use in the classroom!


Teacher-to-Teacher Blogs on Brain Breaks

"Dance Party in Kindergarten" by Brian Smith

"Brain Breaks: An Energizing Time Out" by Tiffani Mugurussa


Printable Set of 12 Fitness Breaks

printable set of fitness breaks for the classroom

Professional Resources


There are so many ways to give your kids a break when a timely recess isn't an option. I hope this great group of teachers inspired you to try something new. I'd love to hear some of your ideas for brain breaks or "fidgets" in your classroom.

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