Thursday, February 10, 2011

Standardized Tests and Brain Breaks are a GREAT Combination

Its that time of year again. It's standardized testing time. It's the time of year students are to be sitting most of the day without any activity. It is a very stressful time for students. I hope you consider my suggestions for your standardized tests this year. Here are my 4 suggestions that are detailed below:
1. Be active before the test.
2. Eat before the test.
3. Give a Brain Break between segments of the test.
4. Offer manipulatives for your fidgety hand students during the test.

1. In preparation for the standardized test encourage your students to walk around the building before they go to class. Some schools actually have a school wide march around the outside of the school for 15 minutes. If the weather doesn't permit you to do this then have your march inside. Get the blood flowing for the students.

2. Encourage students to eat BEFORE the test. Some schools provide breakfasts for the students. Last year I acquired (through my daughters college Ultimate Frisbee team) a boxful of at least 100 bananas. I thought I would see if any of my students would eat a banana. It was unbelievable. In one class there was 80% of the class that took a banana. I asked them right away how many of them had any breakfast that morning and almost 50% said they had nothing to eat yet. Encourage your students to eat. I'm sure the administration could provide some funds for a banana or apple to each student on standardized test days.

3. Give students a BRAIN BREAK after segments of the test. Brain Breaks are short 1-2 minute brain and body challenges that help student to refocus. They get students up out of their seats and crossing the mid-line of their bodies and gets the blood flowing. If you would like more information on Brain Breaks go to . Here are two easy ones to use between segments of your standardized test.

GET THE BOOK! There are 50 activities all ready to go for you. Each book costs $14.95 plus shipping. Go to for more information.


4. Give your students the opportunity to do something while they take the test. Fidgety students love to keep themselves moving. We can relieve this tension for them by giving them something to work with in their hands while they take the test at their seat. Here are some examples.
a. Pipe Cleaners (Get them at the dollar store)
b. Koosh or Nerf ball
c. Rubber hand strengtheners.
d. Kneadable eraser.
e. Silly Putty
f. Paper Clip.
g. Rubber bands


All the best,



  1. Dave, I teach a college math course that meets for 2 1/2 hours, two evenings a week. That's an awfully long class. So I got your book, and we've done a brain break after our regular break, each class.

    We laugh at how silly we feel, and it's great! Thanks.

  2. Hi Dave,
    I just found your blog, and it's terrific. I'm a NBC elementary school teacher in Santa Monica, CA. I'm a big proponent of brain-compatible learning, and I use brain breaks all the time with my students. I'm working on a few new videos that I hope to have ready in the next few weeks. I'd love to share some on your site. You may be interested in my website, I'm also going to look for you on Twitter.


  3. Steve,
    I'm very interested in new ways to get students moving in class. I'm very interested in your work. Please share.

  4. Dave,
    I shared your booklet at a Edcamp last weekend in Texas. It is a fabulous tool! I have it hanging in my classroom for those regular brain breaks that are so important. Thank you for putting it together.