Have you noticed a trend with any of your older speech students? Perhaps some of the little children who used to eagerly skip off to speech time are now dragging their feet. Their friends are testing out of speech services, but they still need some work. All of a sudden, students who you may have had for years no longer want to come to your speech room! What gives?
We all know that older students need to feel mature, and it’s no different for speech students. What is effective for younger kids won’t be effective for them and if you don’t have student buy-in, you won’t accomplish much! A great way to get student buy-in during speech is to come up with age-appropriate brain breaks!
What Are Brain Breaks?
The name “brain break” is a bit misleading. During brain breaks, your students’ brains don’t get turned off- they shift! The purpose of brain breaks is to shift the different networks of your students’ brains away from stress and overload (e.g., learning activities), to the networks that allow your students to rest and think about something else. These shifts allow those regions that are blocked by work to be restored.
While every student is different, a good rule of thumb is to give brain breaks every 10 to 15 minutes for elementary students, and every 20 minutes for secondary students. Edutopia.com has some great articles that talk more about the science behind brain breaks!
What Are Some Common Types of Brain Breaks?
Brain breaks do not have to be elaborate and do not require big interruptions in instruction. There are many different types of brain breaks, but some common types include:
- Physical brain breaks, such as yoga, running in place, jumping jacks, stretching, dancing, tossing a ball, using manipulatives like putty, walking like an animal, or Simon Says.
- Breathing brain breaks, such as guided meditation, gentle stretching, visualization, blowing out imaginary birthday candles, etc.
- Mental brain breaks, such as playing a game, telling jokes, icebreakers, etc.
Students may already have their favorite brain breaks that they would love for you to incorporate into your speech time! You can ask your small groups or one-on-one students about the types of brain breaks that they would like.
How Can We Incorporate Some Speech Into Brain Breaks?
Because brain breaks do not need to be elaborate or interrupt instruction for a large amount of time, we can use them to practice some speech skills! Here are some ideas.
- Drawing. Students can take a couple of minutes to draw a picture on a whiteboard, and then you can discuss the pictures with them. This can lead to the students answering literal questions, incorporating vocabulary, or creating sentences or stories about their pictures. I love to use simple drawing videos like these Art for Kids videos.
- Take a walk, and discuss what and who you see around the school. This time can be used to listen for articulation issues and to observe their social interaction skills as they walk around the school.
- Simon Says. This brain break can be used to assess receptive language, and it’s fun to play in a group!
What About the Older Kids?
Brain breaks for older kids can be tricky! As we talked about before, older kids don’t want to be treated like little kids. However, they may sometimes like an activity like PlayDoh or something else that seems too young for them! My older students love those simple drawing videos on YouTube that I mentioned before even though they may look like they are too easy or young for them.
With older kids and brain breaks, the ball is in their court. Have a wide variety of brain breaks available for students to pick from, and ask them about their favorites. Consider how you might incorporate some informal speech activities into these brain breaks. One of my favorite informal speech activities to use with older students is Would You Rather. I like to keep a list of random questions to get them started and then they can make up their own as well. We have had some great conversations and my older students really enjoy it. Simple things like this can make for a great brain break.
After trying out some of these ideas, your brain breaks will have your students getting excited about coming to speech again. If you like these brain break ideas for older students, then you (and they!) will love the monthly, low-prep speech activities found in my SLP Elevate membership! Check them out right here.