Whether it’s too hot or too cold to go outside, a day trapped in your classroom can feel like a lifetime. While many of you have heard of brain breaks and probably use them throughout your day, it still may not be enough to ease some of that tension. Games are a great way to let students de-stress while still keeping them engaged. Here are 10 teacher-tested classroom activities and games that will help you let out some of that pent-up energy in a controlled, yet fun way.

1. GoNoodle

GoNoodle is not only usually the students’ first choice, but it’s the teachers’ first choice as well. This free website (which you can link to your Smartboard) has free games, interactive videos, and classroom activities that students just love. These short videos are perfect if you want students to get their energy out or even relax and calm down. Since each video or game is only a few minutes long, you can link several of them together. You can start out having students jump and dance, then end by having them do yoga and meditation. To make it even easier on teachers, GoNoodle made several mega mixes, which incorporate several activities into one video that can last anywhere from seven minutes to 20 minutes.

2. Four Corners

This classic game is still popular in today’s classrooms. It’s quite simple to play and even easier to teach. All students have to do is walk to a corner and hope their number is not called. Here’s a simple explanation of the rules.

  • Number the four corners in your room.
  • Choose one student to stand in the middle of the classroom and be “It.” They must close their eyes and count down from ten loudly.
  • The person in the middle then chooses a number from 1-4, and whoever is the corner of the room that they called must sit down in their seats.

3. Charades

This indoor classroom activity may be a blast from the past, but students still love it today. The easiest way to play is to have students each think of anything from an animal to an aircraft and write it down on a piece of paper and fold it in half. Then, all students place it into a bowl, and each team of students takes turns choosing a paper and acting out what is on it. The team with the most points wins.

4. Freeze Dance

If you want to get your students up and moving on a cold and wintery day, then playing freeze dance is the way to go. It will not only help them break a sweat, but it will get all of their energy out in a matter of a few minutes. To play, all you have to do is put on some music and tell them to let loose. When the music stops they must freeze. Anyone who doesn’t freeze is out of the game. The last one left standing wins!

5. Doggy Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?

This is a simple game of “Where is it?” One student is the “guesser” and goes outside of the classroom while another student hides a fake dog bone under their “bottom” while they are sitting on the floor. When the student re-enters the classroom, the students chant “Doggy, doggy, where’s your bone, somebody took it from your home, guess who.” Then the student guesses which student is hiding it. Older students can do this as the hot/cold game and just hide the bone somewhere in the classroom instead of chanting the doggy song. Then the other students tell them if they are getting close (hot) or not (cold).

6. Musical Spaces

This is a twist on the game musical chairs. Push all of the classroom desks to the side and place large circular stickers (ones that can easily be placed and re-placed on the floor) down onto the ground. Space them out like you would a chair. Start the music and have students walk around the circles just like they would if there was a chair there. But when the music stops they don’t sit on a chair, instead they stand on a circle. The last person standing that is not on a circle sticker is out. Each time a person loses, a sticker is removed from the ground. The game continues until only one person is left standing.

7. Bring Your Board Game Day

Once a week on “Fun Friday,” or even once a month, ask students to bring in their favorite board game. Have students place all of the games in the front of the room for all to see. Then allow students to vote for the game that they would like to play.

8. Art Day

If you notice that the forecast for tomorrow calls for frigid temperatures, then instruct students to bring in a smock the following day. Take all of the art supplies that you can get your hands on, and let students’ imaginations run wild. Encourage them to make anything that their heart desires.

9. Mum Is the Word

Mum ball is a great game if you want students to have fun but in a quiet kind of manner. Have all students sit on the top of their desks and give one student a soft ball. That student must point to another student to throw the ball to. If the student misses the catch, they are out. If they catch it, it is now their turn to point to a student and throw the ball. If the person throwing the ball doesn’t throw it well, they are out. The last person sitting on the desk is the winner.

10. Yoga Poses

Yoga is the best, most relaxing way for your students to get their energy out while staying Zen. It’s engaging but at the same time helps increase students’ energy and focus. Try GoNoodles version of it, or try teaching students a few poses on your own. Many teachers swear by the benefits of it.