Energy breaks for young learners

You’re teaching a group of young learners and they just won’t sit still, no matter how many times you tell them to. They can’t seem to concentrate on anything you want to do with them. What can you do about it?

Give them an energy break, of course!

Try some of these ideas to use up at least a bit of their energy.

  • Brain Breaks therapy – the first one in the video, ‘ear and nose’, is my go-to. Lots more on their blog.
  • Board races – great for revision too, though think about how to set it up if you have pre-literate students. Divide the students into two teams (more if the board is big enough) and have them run to the board. Loads of ways to vary these:
    • Say a definition, they write a word
    • Say a word, they draw a picture
    • Show a flashcard to the person at the back, they whisper to the next person in line and so on until the person at the front writes/draws it
    • Say a word in English to the person at the back, they say it in L1 to the next person, who says it in English, and so on to the front. Either L1 or English is written on the board, depending on what they finish on.
    • And many, many more (please add them to the comments!)

Energy breaks can mean encouraging calm too. Meditation and mindfulness exercises change the energy levels in the room.

  • This video is a 1-minute meditation.

As a side note, if this is a regular problem in your lessons, you might want to check that your plans are interspersing activities which stir and settle. Here’s and introduction to stirrers and settlers from Teaching English British Council, and some tips on planning tasks for young learner lessons from ELT Planning.

What would you add to this list?

8 thoughts on “Energy breaks for young learners

  1. Great collection Sandy (and not just for teenagers, I’d say!)

    What comes to my mind is Korean National Gymnastics, or stretching techniques (unrelated to ELT, but widely used in Korea, by young and old people). We had ‘stretching breaks’ with teachers there, and I was impressed how many moves and techniques they all knew!



  2. I used to use GoNoodle more when teaching YLs. Love the syllables song! The mindfulness stuff looks good. One of our teachers does little 10-min yoga sessions with the YLs which seem popular.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sandy, I found your useful and helpful blog thanks to a google alert that I set up. I notice that someone here in the comments mentioned ELT Songs. Since they started enjoying our content, we have added so much more, downloadable teaching materials, all on a brand new website.
    I would love to speak to you more about your material and hear your thoughts on our content and using music to help young students learn english.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks, Ben


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