How to Keep Mentally Fit in the Classroom

Many people do not realize that an active lifestyle means an active brain. When you engage in physical activity of all types, you engage your mind in the process.

But with every school year there are times when students aren’t able to get the level of physical activity they need. As a result their minds may get bored. Mental fitness exercises and activities in the classroom can help clear boredom and stimulate minds. There are many tools to choose from on the internet to keep minds sharp.

Media, such as newspapers, are also a great place to find ideas to incorporate into the classroom. Look for sudoku, crossword puzzles, or make up your own. Comic strips can be used to get students to use some creative thinking. Tell students to come up with an entirely different dialogue to use with the pictures in a comic strip to tell a different story than was published.

Exercise memory by coming up with a list of items and having students take a minute to memorize it. Then put it away and see who can remember the most items from the list. You can also have students look around the room for a minute, leave the room and then describe a certain area of the room.

Engaging different motor functions can be an excellent mental fitness tool. Activities like using your non-dominant hand for some activities or walking backward to your desk can help in this area.

Another method for mental fitness starting to be used more frequently is the brain break. Brain breaks are short periods of time that are utilized throughout the day to refocus and stimulate the mind during the school day. They are thought to reset thinking and pull students out of boredom.

There are many activities and games used for brain breaks. One is to use small cans of play-doh and split class into partners. One person gets one minute to make something from a designated category, like an animal, food, etc. The other student gets 3 guesses and then they switch.

Mental Math is a counting game also played in pairs. One student gives three sets of instructions for counting sequences to their partner, such as count by 2’s until 26, count by 3’s until 33, and count by 5’s until 45. Then the other student does it.

Invisible Pictures is a creative brain break where a student draws a picture in the air while their partner tries to guess. Categories can be given to narrow guessing if needed.

Opposite Sides is a movement-based brain break where the teacher has students stand and wink with their right eye, while trying to snap the fingers of their left hand. Then they repeat the movement with their left eye and right hand.

Symbolic Alphabet is a brain game that utilizes memory. Students can sing the alphabet using objects to replace the letters. Make it challenging for older students by having the first student name an object for the letter A, the next student says that object and a new object for the letter B, and the list gets longer with every student until you reach the end or someone messes up.

Many more puzzles, math games, card games, creativity games, brain teasers, and brain breaks can be found online. Using theses methods in the classroom can enhance mental fitness and academic performance in students during the winter months or all year long. Find them in the below list.