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Sweep away the summer fog! 6 brain games to get kids thinking and energized

These brain games are just enough to get those little minds working.

It’s time to start snapping out of the summer fog, just long enough to ignite those brains a little bit. Rest is important, but we can have both. We need to be recharged and rejuvenated, but we also need energy.

Clinical social worker Ginger Healy shared six simple brain games that will keep kids on their toes and show them they can do more than they think.


Children get tired, bored, and anxious resulting in their brains going into survival mode or getting stuck leaving them unable to think clearly, complete the task at hand, and stay motivated. Simple brain games and help your child re-engage, stay on task, and even do more than they thought they could. We can strengthen the brain, create new neural pathways, and heal adversity with brain games and breaks.

There are two types.

Calming Breaks & Games

If a child feels overwhelmed and overstimulated, they need a brain break to ground and re-set them to feel regulated and soothed, helping them engage.

See each of these games demonstrated in the video above.

Deep Breathing Game – Pizza Breathing

This game is designed to encourage deep breathing, which can help your child calm down and reduce stress. Here’s how to play:

  1. Visualize a Pizza: Imagine pulling a delicious pizza out of the oven.
  2. Inhale: Take a deep breath in, as if you’re smelling the delicious aroma of the pizza.
  3. Exhale: Exhale slowly, as if you’re cooling off the pizza because it’s too hot to eat.
  4. Repeat: Continue this cycle of inhaling and exhaling.
  5. Customize: The game can be modified to involve any food that the child loves and would get excited about.

This game can be particularly useful in moments when your child is feeling overwhelmed or upset, as it can help bring them back to a calmer state. It’s always a good idea to take a moment to breathe deeply, whether you’re “smelling the pizza” or any other favorite food.

Grounding Game – Hand Spiral Trace

This is a grounding game designed to help children relax and manage stress. Here’s how to play:

  1. Choose the Location: Depending on the child’s preference, choose a location where they like to be touched. This could be the back of their hand or their back.
  2. Inhale and Draw: As the child inhales, draw a spiral shape on the chosen location.
  3. Exhale and Unwind: As the child exhales, unwind the spiral shape.
  4. Repeat: Continue this cycle of inhaling and exhaling, drawing and unwinding the spiral.
  5. Discuss: Talk about unwinding the stress and letting it go.
  6. Customize: The game can be done fast or slow, and can be played anywhere.

This game combines visualization, touch, and deep breathing. For the right child, the combination of touch and breath can make a big impact in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Regulating Game – Butterfly Hug and Dragon Wing Tap

This is a regulating game designed to help with relaxation and brain stimulation. Here’s how to play:

  1. Choose Your Character: Decide whether you want to be a butterfly or a dragon.
  2. Flap or Tap: Cross your arms over your body and “flap” (tap)  your “wings” (hands).
  3. Cross the Midline: The key to this game is crossing the midline of your body, which stimulates both hemispheres of the brain and encourages them to communicate with each other.
  4. Repeat: Continue the flapping or tapping movement. The brain finds this bilateral tapping movement soothing and enjoys patterns and repetitions.

This game is a great way to promote relaxation and brain stimulation.

Energizing Breaks & Games

If a child is tired, unmotivated, or distracted/foggy, try these energizing brain breaks and games that will stimulate the brain and shift mood and capabilities, helping them engage.

See each of these games demonstrated in the video above.

Neural Stimulation Game – Peace/Ok or Spock/Spidey

This is a stimulating game designed to energize and engage children, especially when they are tired, bored, or unmotivated. Here’s how to play:

  1. Start with Signs: In one hand, make the peace sign. In the other hand, make the okay sign.
  2. Switch Signs: Now, switch the signs between your hands. This requires concentration and engages the brain.
  3. Speed Up: Try to do the switch as fast as possible. Some kids can do it very quickly.
  4. Modify Hand Shapes: You can modify the game by using different hand shapes. For example, you can use the Spock sign or the Spiderman sign for a more challenging game.
  5. Focus and Think: This game requires focus and thought, similar to patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. It’s a fun challenge that shifts your concentration.

This game is not only fun, but a great way to stimulate focus and energy in children.

Rhythm & Movement Game – Clap-Pat-Snap-Stomp

This is a rhythmic game that involves pattern repetition and is great for engaging children. Here’s how to play:

  1. Basic Pattern: Start with the basic pattern – Clap, Pat, Snap, Stomp. Repeat this pattern.
  2. Change It Up: Once you get the hang of the basic pattern, you can change it up. This gives the child control over the game. You can do it fast or slow, do two claps, two stomps, or even do it backwards. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Engage and Think: This game engages the mind and body, and requires thinking. It’s great for moments where you need to keep children entertained without resorting to screens, like during a doctor’s office visit.

Positive Power & Control game – Lion Roar & Power Stance

This is a game that encourages children to embrace their inner strength and power. Here’s how to play:

  1. Power Stance: Stand up and become your favorite superhero. Ground yourself in that character. Think about what it looks like and feels like. Repeat empowering messages in your mind such as “I am strong,” “I am capable,” “I am powerful,” and “I can do this.”
  2. Lion Roar: Let out a guttural roar that signifies your presence, authority, and strength. This roar is a declaration of “I am here,” “I’m in charge,” and “I am strong.”
  3. Choose Your Character: Kids can choose whatever animal or superhero they want. The aim is to send a message to the mind that becomes their truth.

This game is a great way to boost confidence and self-belief in children.

These games provide an opportunity to explore what works individually and allow flexibility to modify and make up your own, which is fun for kids. It allows for creativity in modifying and a chance to “be the leader.” Fun and play heal and strengthen the brain!

Get Ginger’s books here. Find her on Instagram, @gingerhealylcsw.

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