5 ACTIVE brain break ideas: Social Distanced Edition

Brain breaks are super important in the K-12 setting so that our students can focus on each thing they are learning. For my fellow physical education teacher, warm up games and quick activities to use if you have extra time are important for engagement and to keep our students active. These games involve communication and just plain ole fun which our students deserve.

I made a video explaining 5 games that can be used as warm ups, brain breaks or just fun games to play with your students! All of these games require zero equipment besides maybe some cones if you are outside. The cones are not necessary though! Below is the video explaining all the games with actions! I also have written out instructions for each game!

Partner Tag

This game is a quick way to get your students engaged and ready for your physical education class. This also is a great quick game for a brain break between activities in a grade level or subject classroom.

Grade: K-12

How to play:

  1. Have the students get into partners. You can do this by partnering them yourself or have them quick find one.
  2. Explain that one person will be the tagger and one will be the runner to start. ** Quick Tip** Have your students play Rock, Paper, Scissors to quick pick who will start as the tagger to avoid fights.
  3. Explain when you get tagged, you have to spin around twice (in spot) and do something. I love to have my students make animal noises while they spin! During this time, the other partner tries to get away!
  4. Designate the playing area. Try to keep it to half of the gym or a given outside area!
  5. Have fun!

3 Person Partner Tag

This game is similar to the partner tag above however, it involves three people!

Grade Level: K-12

How to Play:

To start, each person in the group of 3 will choose if they will be the runner, tagger or waiter. The waiter will wait on the base line or a given line you choose. The tagger will go and try to tag the runner.

However, once the runner gets tagged they will NOT spin around. They instead will switch spots with people. The runner who now just got tagged will go wait. While the tagger will now become the runner. The waiter will run out and become the tagger.

The nice part about this game is the students have to be engaged and focused so they know when to jump into the game and play! I personally love this as a warm up game or a quick filler at the end of class if I have extra time!

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo may be my favorite game on this list! I learned about this game in college and have used it ever since! Kids get so excited because of the anticipation this game brings!

Grade: 2-12

How to Play:

  1. Explain that during this game the goal is to find Nemo! You will walk around and ask your peers if they are Nemo! You can high five, wave or elbow bump to ask if you are Nemo. The student who is Nemo does not need to reveal themselves right away. However, if they are taking too long then the teacher can say in the next 10 seconds Nemo needs to reveal themselves.
  2. When Nemo says yes I am Nemo. The person jumps behind Nemo and once you notice that happened, everyone else needs to run behind Nemo because you do not want to be behind the shark .
  3. The shark never reveals who they are in the game until they are in line. The role of the shark is to make everyone behind them have to do something. This can be pushups, jumping jacks or a quick dance. This should not be a punishment but something goofy! So, I usually join in on the movement with them!
  4. To start the game explain the roles of Nemo and the shark. During this explain what was written in steps 1-3. Have the students close their eyes and them pick the Nemo and the shark. I usually tap on the head for Nemo and tap on the shoulder for the shark. Then release them to find Nemo by saying “Go find Nemo”
  5. After a couple rounds, if you want you can have 2 sharks. Nothing changes except usually you get more students to do the movement once they are behind the shark!

Captain o Captain

This game I grew up playing all the time at youth groups! It is such a fun game and a fun test of how fast can you run!

Grade: K-7

How to play:

  1. Line all students up on one line in the gym or have them make a line in a given space.
  2. Explain that you will pick two Ship Captains! These individuals will tell you if you can cross their ship! To ask if you can cross the ship all the students have to ask “Captain o Captain may we cross your ship” The captains will then tell you different ways you can cross the ship. For example, only if you have glasses or are wearing the color purple
  3. Those individuals who meet what the captain says get a free pass. The captains then will say “the rest may cross” and everyone has to go to across to the other line without getting tagged. If a student gets tagged, they then join the captains in tagging other students.
  4. Pick out two Ship Captains.
  5. Have fun and play!


This game involves a lot of listening and following of directions! This involves another ship except this time all the students are on the ship!

Grades: 3-12

How to play:

  1. Have the students line up on the middle line. This can be a half court line in your gymnasium or a given space you choose.
  2. Explain all the movements that happen in this game. See below


  1. Port – Run to the left
  2. Stern – Run to the right
  3. Captains Coming- Salute
  4. Mop the Deck – Pretend to be mopping
  5. Hit the deck – drop low. Either lay down or crouch
  6. Three men in a boat – three students huddle close together!
  7. At ease – the only way the students can stop doing the action that was said before! (ex. If I said mop the deck and then captains coming and the student does the captains coming action, they are out!)

3. To get the students out you get to choose if they get out if they are last when they run to either the port or stern OR if they are only out during the actions.

4. Start the game by having all the students in the middle! Then start calling out different actions or places to run too!

5. Have fun!

I hope this is super helpful in finding some fun brain breaks or warm up games! What games are you excited to introduce into your classrooms? Let me know below! Make sure to subscribe to my blog to get all of my posts straight to your email!

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