In our last post in our Ultimate Guide to Brain Break Activities series, we took a look at calming brain breaks in the classroom. These particular brain breaks help students achieve a sense of regularity amongst themselves and help bring down an unnecessarily high energy level in the classroom. What about when students need a little pick-me-up? Just as much as brain breaks can be calming, they can also be energizing. While we’ve mentioned before that anything that gets the blood pumping and oxygen flowing to the brain is effective, there are still ways to increase those energy levels when they really need a boost. A great way to do this is with Just Dance brain breaks.
if you are unfamiliar, Just Dance Is a video game that was released in 2009 that gives players choreographed dances to complete and, in the spirit of the game itself, their skills are rated. However, if you go onto YouTube you can find a number of Just Dance performances that do not have the competitive element to it. Instead, there are all different songs, many of which your students will know and love, with dances that go along with them. You can play the video and your students can follow along and learn the moves.
Of course, you can add a competitive element to this if you perhaps use the same video for a week and at the end had some type of a dance-off with your students. You can completely ignore the competitive element and just do it for fun. Regardless, you’re going to have an experience where your students are able to get up and move around in a short period of time, yet an extremely effective amount to really increase the energy level in the room. Below are a few examples of some of the greats YouTube videos for Just Dance brain breaks.
Can’t Stop The Feeling
This one is great because it has a lot of popular elements that the kids will love. Number 1, it’s from the movie Trolls, which seems to be becoming timeless. The song itself is also a popular Justin Timberlake song. To boot, a lot of the dance moves are trendy dances that the kids are doing today anyway. This creates the “perfect storm” of entertainment for younger students (and older ones who may be willing to let their guard down and reminisce a little) which creates some nice buy-in….and it’s 3 minutes.
Apache (Jump On It)
Ahhhh….anyone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s will also want to “jump on” this one! The Apache dance is also timeless and this will also give your students some life skills when they’re at a wedding later on to know some stellar dance moves to a classic song.
Plus, introduce them to some Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and they’ll be excited like the rest of us. This one is 4 minutes.
Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)
Another extremely popular dance, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) will certainly have your students get into a dance off. The nice part about this one is that you can be almost guaranteed that some of your students know this dance already….but since it shows the moves, no one feels left out for not knowing the moves to this dance already. This dance is 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
Here is another popular, mainstream song, Despacito. Bonus points that this one can be used in a Spanish class or other multicultural studies class as the song itself is in Spanish. The speed of this song is a bit slower, which is good for classes that may need a dance that is a little less intimidating. This one is also 4 minutes.
Just Dance Brain Breaks: A Recap
What I have given you here are just for quick options for Just Dance brain breaks that can be found on YouTube. I tried to find ones that might pique the most students interest for this list. However, if you go on YouTube and just type in Just Dance, so many options come up. A fun option before you start this may be to poll your students on what their favorite songs are. I’m not guaranteeing that there is a dance for every one, but you might be able to find some of them, which certainly would help with some student buy-in. We’ve all been there when “ our jam” comes on and it just creates a better mood and atmosphere. Being able to do that will certainly help if possible.
You may want to find your own songs without asking the students, and that is perfectly fine too. You might find a song that somehow connects to what you are doing in class, the time of year, or any other number of options. Again these are only three or four minutes, so even if you find a song that you think is going to go over really well and it ends up being a dud with your students, you can certainly just try a different one. You could also purposely find one from a different era or one that the students are just not familiar with to add that dance-off challenge aspect. it wouldn’t be terribly Fair to add a competitive element when half the class may already know the song or dance and half the class is not. The opportunities are absolutely endless.
So when you notice that your students need an energizing brain break, have your playlist ready and spend three or four minutes getting them up and moving around. Dancing helps on a number of levels. Since the entire purpose of a brain break is to get the blood flowing and oxygen pumping, Just Dance brain breaks are a perfect option when you really need to perk up your students. Frankly, you may want to participate yourself if you also need a little boost. A word of warning, try not to get lost in the city of YouTube videos (as that would be easy to do!). I would certainly suggest as mentioned creating a playlist that you can jump into at any time. you can always add or delete videos from that playlist, but having it ready to go at your disposal makes it easier than having to try to find a song when the moment strikes.