Teaching Tips

A Brain Break Game That Gets Your Kids MOVING

Here’s a quick brain break that gets your students up and moving in a fun game.  It’s basically human connect four – the aim of the game is to make a connection of four people, in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal straight line.  I have played this successfully with second through fifth grades.  The more often you play it, the quicker the students are at setting up and breaking down afterwards.  It is great to play if you have 15 minutes to spare and you are able to find or create a space.

Human Connect Four

You will need:

  • a grid of chairs, either 4 x 5 or 5 x 5 depending on your number of students.  Lay out the chairs in equal rows, with the chairs facing the same way 
  • a way of splitting and easily identifying your students into two random groups.  Colored pinnies, arm bands, tags or hats are good ways to do this

How to Play

Have students grab their chairs and head outside to the playground or (empty) parking lot.  The more you play, the quicker they will become at setting up the chairs.  Have each team stand at opposite sides of the grids facing the chairs.  At a nod from you the first person on a team goes and takes a seat.  Once they are sitting they cannot move seats.  The other team sends their player to find a seat.  Repeat until you have a winning team or all seats are filled.  The first team to connect four people is the winning team.

Variations

Depending on the age of your students you can mix up the rules to make it more tricky.  My favorite version of this game is SILENT connect four, because it really becomes tricky to work out where to take a seat and what the possible permutations and computations of the lines are.

Students also benefit from discussing their next move, but to help speed the game along you can set a timer so that each team has only 15 or 30 seconds to make their move.

Why we must make time for games in the classroom

Games play a very important role in child health and brain development. They help children develop logic and reasoning skills, improve critical thinking and boost spatial reasoning. Encouraging children to play different types of games can also increase verbal and communication skills, while helping develop attention skills and the ability to concentrate and focus for longer periods of time.  Allowing your students to play helps them practice essential cognitive skills, like problem solving. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex especially benefit from games like this. These areas of the brain are responsible for complex thought and memory formation. 

My students always loved playing this game, and I hope yours will too!

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