Over 10 New Brain Boosters from America's Healthiest Schools

posted on Wed, Oct 5 2016 8:00 am by Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships

Last week, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation honored America's Healthiest SchoolsDuring the celebration, I led a workshop called Energizing Your School Campus Through Physical Activity in Out-of-School Time. 

My session had a long title, but my objective was simple:

Find out happens when you gather a group of America's Healthiest Schools, help them remember what it was like to be a child and give them simple inexpensive supplies to invent their own brain booster and energizer.

My session had 3 simple activities and lasted around an hour.

The first activity was a twist on this activity from the YMCA. The group used blank flashcards to answer the question, "As a child, my least favorite physical activity was _______. Describe who you were with and how you felt."

As you can see from the photo below, I had the cards set up on the tables before participants came in. The point of the question was to discuss how our experiences as children impact our development of a life-long love of movement.



The second activity was another reflection tool called, "A Day in the Life" that I learned from SoundOut a few years ago. I encouraged the group to pause, slow down and remember what life as a 5th grader was like.

If you're interested in seeing this reflection in action, don't miss my presentation Good Vibes: Setting the Tone for Youth Voice & Engagement during the National AfterSchool Association Virtual Convention this November. It is a great resource to lead at your next staff meeting to cultivate empathy.



The third activity was about creativity, making and inventing. Teams of participants used supplies from a mock supply closet set up in the back of the room to create their own brain boosters and energizers. I encouraged teams to create energizers that were short, simple, inclusive and adaptable.

The supplies I provided were (if you recreate this activity, use what you have on hand and "upcycle!")

- plastic spinners

- various flash cards

- sticky notes and colorful paper

- wooden craft sticks

- colorful bean bags

- various sizes of tape

- Alliance for a Healthier Generation Task Cards (enlarged and laminated)

- small beach balls

- a box of mismatched markers and crayons

- colorful wooden blocks

Below are the activities that each team created.

Have fun exploring these creative ideas from America's Healthiest Schools and plan your own DIY brain booster session. Who knows what your staff and students will create!

Snap a picture and tweet your idea to me.

What I like the most about "Beach Ball Blast" is that it could be a fun outdoor game. Balancing physical activity with homework time can be a challenge, so I also like how the game can integrate academic subject areas. 

I like the added complexity of "Beach Ball Math" and the competition aspect it brings.

I like the simplicity of "Color Cardio." This could be a family night activity as it reinforces colors (for younger children) and math (older youth) while integrating simple movement that could be adapted to any age group or skill level.

"Fitness Walk" is a possible icebreaker energizer as it gives everyone a change to say hi to each other. I also like how this group integrated technology using a smart board.

I like how "Fitt Sticks" can last from one minute to ten minutes (or more!). It's the perfect back-pocket activity.

I like how "Let's Have a Ball" blends math, music and movement. It could be a solid game for larger spaces or the outdoors.

"Math Madness" was definitely one of the more complex games that a team created. I like how they designed stations and integrated the money flash cards in a creative way. I also like how they created and incorporated a paper "fortune teller."

Talk about making the maker movement active!

"Memory Mimic" is nice because it includes cooperative learning and team-building. I think it's great how the group called out "assisting classmates" as a bonus feature.

I appreciate how "Move It Math" blends a game that every child knows (rock-paper-scissors) and active math. The partner component is also a nice icebreaker.

Definitely one of the most creative titles, "Musical Spinner Throwdown" seems like a nice big group activity and a fun energizer since it incorporates music.

When the team that created "Spin, Toss and Go" demonstrated their game, I was a little concerned. It seemed too complicated and maybe even too messy (with a component of the game being knocking down blocks) but the group loved it. I think it could be a smaller group activity and I imagine children would love to knock down the blocks and make some noise.


Ready to host your own DIY Brain Booster Party and get others involved? Send out a tweet and let us know how it goes!


Looking for more resources? Don't miss our upcoming professional development events. Short on time? Listen to one of our short podcasts for easy to use tips.

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