Quick Movement Breaks for Productivity

The Pomodore Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. This helps to maintain energy and focus. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros.

Every hour and a half, a longer 30-minute break helps the brain and body reset ​for more work. This intuitively makes sense to many parents managing a home-school schedule for the first time, but the challenge quickly becomes finding and introducing short activities that kids will love and do independently — away from their screens, in most cases.

A great starter to get kids involved is to get your child dancing, stretching, and jumping by checking out

the Go Noodle or YouTube exercise videos for kids.

Here are some more ideas for getting bodies in motion and minds recharged.

5-Minute Transition Smoothers

These are quick ideas most school-age children can do without interrupting mum and dad.

#1. Access a library of free, 5-minute exercise videos from The Body Coach TV, a P.E. teacher offering fun physical activities for kids, via YouTube.

#2. Jump rope inside or out. Jumping rope improves cardiovascular fitness, is great for coordination, and strengthens the arms, calves, and back muscles, too.

#3. Have a ball with a tennis ball or other lightweight ball. Toss and catch a ball overhead several times. Continue tossing the ball and add leg lifts to the routine. Stand upright and hold the ball over your head with both hands on the ball. Lift your leg to waist level and lower the ball to touch your toes one leg at a time. Repeat these movements for 5 minutes.

#4. Staircase fun run. Run up and down the stairs until you’re exhausted. See if you can go up and down 20 times in 5 minutes. Young children should only do with parent permission and supervision.

#5. Play indoor sock ball or balloon volleyball. Transform the largest pair of socks in your drawer into a soccer “ball” that won’t damage furniture or break delicate indoor objects. You can also play a quick game of volleyball by blowing up a balloon and lining up plastic cups or rolls of toilet paper for the net.

#6. Shake, rattle, and roll. Tell your children to stand side-by-side and run in place as fast as they can for a minute. Then shake, shake, shake their bodies moving from top to bottom. Instruct them to shake their heads, wiggle their shoulders, move their torsos side to side, shake each hand, then each arm. Shake the right leg then the left leg. Shake each foot and then reverse direction and go from the bottom of the body to the head. Finally, drop to the floor and roll — without bumping in to anyone else in the process!

#7. Be still. Grab a pillow from the couch, plop it on the carpet, and have your child sit with legs crossed, allowing their mind to wander and daydream. Take note of any interesting thoughts or ideas that come up when the time is up. Brilliance can be born out of boredom.

#8. Shadow puppets. Make a rabbit, an eagle, or a face with your hands.

Grab a torch and find a wall.

Show your kids how to make shadow puppets with their hands.

#9. Have a musical moment. Demonstrate the mood-altering impact of music by playing a soft tune and asking your child to close their eyes and place a hand on their chest to feel their heart rate slow. Then play a lively tune and dance. Your child will quickly understand how music naturally inspires movement. You can also play a favourite song and ask your kids to name the type of instrument being played: percussion, brass, woodwind, string, or keyboard.

#10. Play a quick and silly game of “Simon Says.” The kids will love playing with mum and dad.

#11. Practice good posture. Have your child stand against the wall with their heels pressed to the skirting board. Tell them to stand up straight, press their shoulder blades against the wall, lift their chin and look straight ahead. Place a book on top of their head and see if they can keep it balanced while walking across the room.

15-Minute Focus Sharpeners

When family members start to feel restless, mix things up with these 15-minute break ideas.

#12. Tabletop fun with cards. A deck of cards can be used for more than just “Go Fish,” “Snap” and “Old Maid.” Cards can be a source of entertainment and simple construction projects. Plenty of quick, easy card trick tutorials are available online, and kids of all ages love to build a house of cards. Your child can also test their telepathic powers by pulling a card from the deck, hiding its face, and seeing if they can use their innate “powers” to name the card.

#13. Learn math by singing. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and even fractions may be easier to understand and execute through song. Use music and rhythm to promote learning. See if adding some jingles to your day makes a difference.

#14. Divide and conquer. Speed clean your house — one spot or room at a time — with a little help from your kids. Come up with a list of household chores that can be completed in 15 minutes (collect and empty rubbish bins in bedrooms and bathrooms, clean a sink and a toilet, dust the furniture in the family room, etc.) You can set a timer and turn the task into a contest to see who finishes their chore first. Chances are they will embrace the challenge if you also tie completion to a reward like extra screen time or their favourite dessert.

#15. Surprise grandma or grandpa (or another elderly loved one who could use a boost). Social distancing is leaving many elderly people feeling lonely. Encourage your child to write a handwritten note, make a face time call or schedule a zoom meeting.

#16. Exercise using a deck of cards. Here’s a fun way to get them moving using a simple card deck. The card you draw dictates the type of exercise you do and the number of repetitions for each exercise. Ace, King, Queen or Jack equal 10 moves. Draw a joker, do 10 burpees. Clubs are jumping jacks; hearts are squats, diamonds are mountain climbers and spades are push ups. Ready, set, go!

#17. Break out the colouring books. If your kids haven’t spent time with colouring books lately, they might enjoy the quiet, soothing change of pace.

30-Minute Resets

Use these ideas for those longer breaks throughout the day, like ‘recess period’ after lunch.

#18. Build an indoor fort from cardboard, couch cushions, or blankets. Create a quiet reading/ time out space.

#19. Build an outdoor fort with a sheet, a hula-hoop, and some string. Kids can hang it from a backyard tree or the swing set and have their own private picnic or just a quiet, outdoor space to curl up with a book.

#20. Take a nature walk. Nothing restores the mind and body like a brisk walk outside. Take in the fresh air and sunshine together. To maintain attention for those children with limited focus create a scavenger hunt or big game of items seen on your walk eg a red leaf, feather, small stone, or items they can tick off their bingo card eg a post box, rubbish truck, motorbike, garden gnome, wheelbarrow and other neighbourhood sights they might otherwise overlook.

#21. Hone your child’s culinary skills. Even young kids can learn to safely make a batch of cookies with minimal supervision. For more adventurous and eager chefs, work on basic kitchen lessons like how to peel veggies, slice fruit, and measure wet and dry ingredients. Get inspired by scrolling through recipes online and plan a fun recipe or menu from there. You will find plenty of how-to cook videos on YouTube. For other inspiration, consider your family’s heritage and plan what you need to make a traditional dish. Look through some options together and see where your child’s curiosity takes you. Bon appetite!

#22. Button up. Teach your child how to sew a button onto a piece of fabric. A life long skill.

You could even make a sock puppet.

#24. Put on a show. Challenge your kids to create a short show based on something in one of the day’s lesson plans. Act out a scene from a book they’re reading or a chapter of history they’re learning. If your child is a music lover, have them choreograph a dance to one or two of their favourite songs.

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