Brain breaks let families enjoy simple things


"I think you need a brain break."

When my son gets frustrated with or tired of a project, he often hears me say those words.

It's summertime, after all, and we all deserve some refreshment and relaxation.

While I don't want him to forget everything he learned in school this year, I do want him to have some fun, like I did when I was his age.

It's amazing what kids will learn if we give them some down time to merely explore and wonder at creation.

Here are some brain breaks I've given - or plan to give - my kids this summer.

Feeling like you need a break yourself? Go ahead. Try one of these. Be simple. Get silly. Give your brain a rest. You'll be surprised about all you can learn.

  • Put an ice cube on the sidewalk and watch it melt in the hot sun.

  • Take a walk on a country road. Stop and tell a cow hello.

  • Pick a craft book off the library shelf and help your child follow the directions for a creation of his choice.

  • Take turns stepping on each other's shadow.

  • Take your child to the grocery store. Tell him to pick one food item he's never seen before and together make something to eat from it.

  • Ask your child to tell you a story using his toys.

  • Put on some classical music and see how many instruments you can hear. Are the sounds low or high? Fast or slow? Loud or soft?

  • Listen to the grass crunch under your feet. (Yes, we're having a dry summer, eh?)

  • Take an alphabet walk. Pick a letter and point out all the items that start - or end - with that letter. Does the letter make more than one sound?

  • Bring a stone inside. Look at it carefully. Draw it together.

  • Mix two types of Kool-Aid and talk about the taste of your new flavor.

  • Put some photos in a scrapbook.

  • Visit an older relative. Sit and talk.

  • Rub lotion on each other's feet.

  • Play "Name That Tune."

  • Examine a tissue and think of all the things you could create from it.

  • Take turns sharing what you like about each other.

  • Say tongue-twisters.

  • Stand in front of a mirror side-by-side and see how many different faces you can make. How many emotions can you express?

  • Spread a blanket under a tree and lie flat on your back. How many colors do you see? How many animals can you hear? What sensations can you feel? What does the air taste like?

  • Play "Red Light, Green Light" in a park. (Red means stop. Green means go.)

  • Put some items in a bag and ask your child to identify them based on touch. Talk about shapes, textures and sizes.

  • Look at dirt through a magnifying glass.

  • Watch a flag blowing in the breeze.

  • Plant a seed. Watch it grow. Write down your observations.

  • Collect sticks and see what structures you can make from them.

  • Linger at the table to talk after dinner.

  • Go outside at night and listen.

  • Count fireflies.

  • Give someone you love a long hug.

And, by all means, don't let the summer go by before you've had a chance to relax ... if just for a little while.


Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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