I teach for a virtual school and another program that offers remote classes for homebound students, which means my students and I spend a lot of time sitting down. Even when I taught in a brick-and-mortar classroom, my students were seated most of the day. I tried to combat this with stations and plenty of activities, but even so, everyone needs a little break from time to time.
Many students experience mental fatigue and a decline in academic performance when they don’t take enough breaks throughout the day. That’s why brain breaks are so important. They give you and your students a chance to rest, recharge, and refocus. In the end, this ultimately leads to better learning outcomes and increased productivity. So, if you want to help students succeed in Spanish class, don’t underestimate the power of a good brain break!
Here are thirteen brain break resources or ideas to use in your Secondary Spanish classroom.
Video Brain Breaks
Would You Rather
These Spanish videos from UJU ask students to choose a favorite and do a corresponding movement, like jumping jacks or running in place, to show their preference. This is a great way to teach silly vocab quickly and get your students up and moving.
Go Noodle, powered by Children’s Health, has activities and videos to get kids moving, dancing, and singing. Honestly, I would dive whole-heartedly into this with my more adventurous classes. It looks like a ton of fun.
Music is a great way to incorporate new brain breaks for Spanish class. Here are a few ways to use music.
I love using lyrics in my class because it’s a fun way to share culture, vocabulary, and expose my students to more language. Here are my favorite lyric activities:
- Lyrics Training – This website offers a wide selection of music videos from around the world, featuring songs in different languages. As students watch and listen to the videos, the website generates gaps in the lyrics for students to complete using multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank options. To engage students, you can choose the multiple-choice option and have them call out the correct lyrics. In larger classes, I have my students raise their hands to answer.
- Lyrics Matching – This will require a little more prep work, but you can provide students with the lyrics meanings and have them match the meaning to the lyrics as they listen. I don’t mean translation, but rather the artistic meaning of the song. It’s a fun way to dig into the figurative language used, and have students look at language in a new way.
- Karaoke. Yes. Do it. It’ll be so much fun. All you need is a music video with lyrics, which are available on Youtube.
- Lyrics Rewrite: Challenge students to rewrite the lyrics of a song in Spanish, using their own words and ideas. This activity encourages creativity and reinforces grammar and vocabulary concepts.
Looking for background information about your favorite Latinx musicians? Check out my músico resources here!
Old School: Musical Chairs
Why not throw it back to musical chairs? Play music in Spanish and have your students play musical chairs in the classroom. You don’t even have to rearrange your classroom, just put a backpack in one chair to block it off, then have students sit in “removed” chairs when they’re out. It’s an easy brain break for Spanish class, especially with your favorite playlist!
If you have an outgoing class, you can do a dance party. Sometimes they’re hesitant to dance in front of each other, but you just need one outgoing student to hop in before others will join.
Looking to use more music? Check out my free playlist for Spanish class.
Fun and Games
I don’t know if this game has a name – please tell me in the comments below if you know! It’s a super easy, fill-a-few-minutes brain break for Spanish class. The game starts with the number “one,” and each student takes turns saying the next consecutive number, one at a time. The goal is to count as high as possible without strategizing, and without saying the same number as another student at the same time. If two students say the same number, the game restarts at “one.” I like to keep track to see which class can get to the highest number.
Fun with Words
This one is fun – have students mix up a word and test their vocabulary knowledge.
- Word Ladder
Provide a Spanish word, and have students change one letter at a time to create a new word until they reach a final word.
I googled “Wordle en español” and quickly found exactly what I was looking for. I always do the Wordle on my own so I can give my students clues if they need them, and to be sure it’s a word they know. Otherwise, you can create your own Wordle here.
- Tongue Twisters
Search for “trabalenguas” on youtube and have students practice tongue twisters. It’s a fun way to think outside the box, have fun, learn a little bit of culture, and acquire new vocabulary.
This is one of my favorite go-to brain breaks for Spanish class. I learned this one from my students in Spain, who called it “stop.” “Basta” or “Stop” is a fun and easy vocabulary game that can be played in Spanish class. To play, each student should have a piece of paper and a pen. The teacher will choose a letter of the alphabet, and students will have to write down words that start with that letter in different categories (I like names, foods, places). The first student to write a word for each category, and fill in their table, says “basta” or “stop” and the other students must stop writing. Points are given for unique words and any repeated words do not count. I wait for students to get started, then I play on the board so they can see a model (but not copy my answers!).