Brain Gym

brain gym 3I came to know Brain Gym, 3 years ago when I was at Pilgrim’s  Canterbury, UK.!

Bonnie Tsai , our Teacher Trainer, was my mentor!Since then, I have been using brain gym activities in my classes regularly with huge success!

One of my favourite Bonnie's posts on Brain Gym!

One of my favourite Bonnie’s posts on Brain Gym!

I would like to share some of them here ,for you to be able to use them in your class too and maybe, decide to attend Bonnie’s NLP class at Pilgrim’s one day and know more about it!

The purpose of brain gym is to wake up students who are tired, sleepy or just plain bored.It does this, through simple little exercises to build up lagging energy.

Students need some sensory stimulation to move into an english class mood or as a little filler at any point in the lesson when you feel the energy level going down…

You may however find yourself ,with some students who need to be calmed down , on a Friday afternoon, before a holiday, or even before an importnat test!

Here are some activities that can be used to wake up tired learners or to relax them according to their needs.

Here are some examples:

Unfolding ears

Unfolding ears

Unfolding ears

Ask students to gently unfold the lobes of their ears and give them a gentle massage.Before listening activities, the students’ ears are awake and ready to listen.It should take around one minute!

Lazy 8sbrain gym 8

Ask students to make the figure 8 on its side with their hand.They should make a large 8 and it is very important that they follow the movement with their eyes!

They do the same movement with each hand first…then ask them to make the same movement with both their hands.Lazy 8s take around 2 minutes to do and are very useful before reading activities.

They help students to develop peripheral vision and at the same time create neuron connections between the left and the right hemispheres of the brain.

Stamping feet and lion’s roar

Lion's roar, will wake up even the tiredest student!

Lion’s roar, will wake up even the tiredest student!

We all have times of the day when our energy levels go down..

At the beginning of the lesson, ask students to stand up and stamp their feet as fast as they can!

Follow this by asking them to bend their knees slightly and make a face like a ferocious lion!

This will wake up even the tiredest student!

Crazy brain gym

Ask students to rub their stomach in a circular, clockwise motion, with their left hand, while massaging the top of their head in an antiwise motion with their right hand at the same time.

They should then, tap their right foot and imagine they are eating a delicious ice cream while watching a monkey riding a bike!

Finally, they should sing “Happy Birthday”!

This activity, besides being a lot of fun, requires the students to use all of their senses.


Picking fruit

There are no...fruits on that tree but, our imagination helps us see the tree covered with them !

There are no…fruits on that tree but, our imagination helps us see the tree covered with them !

Ask students to stand up.Ask them to imagine, they are standing in a fruit orchard. Above them are lovely fruit trees full of ripe fruit.

Tell them to reach up and pick one fruit from the top of the trees.Go through all the senses: smell it, touch it, listen for  any sounds from inside, taste it. Then ask each student to describe the fruit.

For younger learners, you ask them to draw their fruit and then go around showing their drawings to each other.

Crystal Vase

Each student picks the vase up and does an action with it

Each student picks the vase up and does an action with it

Ask the students to stand in a circle if possible.

Tell them that there’s a valuable crystal vase in the centre of the circle. Each student picks the vase  up  and does an action with it before handing it onto the next student.Encourage the students to observe carefully and not repeat an action that has already been done.

Ask older students to recall all the different actions they saw.Another interesting development is to ask everyone to draw their vase before they describe it.It is amazing how differently everyone perceives the vase!

Hook ups 

Cross your left ankle over your right. Extend your arms crossing
your left wrist over your right. Bring your palms together and
interlace your fingers. Bring your hands up toward your chin. Sit
quietly for a minute with your eyes closed while you breathe deeply

brain gym 5

Relaxes the central nervous system. Connects the electrical circuitry
of the body. Crosses the center mid-line to activate both left and
right hemispheres of the brain. Helps us become emotionally
centered and grounded.

Box of nice things

Again ask students to stand in a circle and imagine an empty box in the middle.

Each student, puts something in it.

Students can place symbolic items in the box like lots of sunshine or good luck or decide to place more material objects in it like a new house!

Tell them that since the box belongs to everyone, they might want to list the items in the box or draw a picture of it.This is a lovely way to end a class or do before a holiday.

The basketball game

An imaginary game of basketball

An imaginary game of basketball

Put on some music with a strong rythmic beat . Get the group involved, in an imaginary game of basketball in which they throw the ball to each other, shoot and dribble the ball.Do this for about two minutes and then, get to work.

Passionate tennis champions!

Passionate tennis champions!

My own variation of this activity is the ” Passianate Tennis champions ” inspired by one of Ken Wilson’s presenations ! The students are asked to hit the tennis ball as passionately as possible with their rackets!


Bonnie, suggests that ,the music is either Mozart or Bach

Bonnie, suggests that ,the music is either Mozart or Bach

Music is an effective way of creating a learning environment.

Why is this? Music can create a desired atmosphere for telling a story.It can also be used to build up a sense of anticipation.

Music can focus concenration and increase attention.

In this way, soft music can be used as a background to activities such as creative writing or even group work.It is useful before a test to release tension and can also be used to enhance imagination! I love music in my class!

In the photo, the students were asked to draw a picture of what they had been thinking about while they were listening to Mozart 40th Symphony, during the "relaxation" activity in the end...we used the follwing exercises: unfolding ears, lazy 8s,stabbing feet and lion's roar, crazy brain gym,picking fuit, crystal vase, box of nice things, the basketball game ( plus, my variation: the tennis game) , relaxation!

In the photo, the students were asked to draw a picture of what they had been thinking about while they were listening to Mozart 40th Symphony, during the “relaxation” activity in the end…


Bonnie, suggests that it is either Mozart or Bach.I play music in my class even when my students are coming or leaving! And classical music, sofltly in the background, during tests!

Benefits of brain gym for learning:brain gym 4

* Academic skills – for example, reading, writing, spelling and maths
* Memory, concentration and focus
* Physical co-ordination and balance
* Communication skills and language development
* Self-development and personal stress management
* The achievement of goals – both professional and personal

 Brain Gym Resources

Web sites: for Brain Gym classes, instructors, one-on-one consultants, and
general information about Brain Gym. for Brain Gym books, posters, music, and other resources.

Take a look at Sharon Gerber’s Brain Gym video on YouTube She’s got everybody
doing Brain Gym: little kids, big kids, adults, even “sophisticated” college kids. What an
inspiration. And the music’s terrific.


Paul Dennison, Brain Gym and Me. Ventura, CA, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc. 2006. Brain
Gym’s founder discusses his own learning challenges, how Brain Gym came about, and
some specific Brain Gym movements.

Paul Dennison and Gail Dennison, Brain Gym®, Teacher’s Edition, revised,
Ventura, CA, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc. 1994. Shows how to do Brain Gym
movements and what they’re for. Basic Brain Gym book although a bit hard to learn Brain
Gym from a book.

Carla Hannaford, Smart Moves: Why Learning is not All in Your Head, 2nd ed.
Great Ocean, 2005. The science and physiology behind Brain Gym. Despite it’s theoretical
focus, it’s easy to read. Highly recommended.

Jerry Teplitz, Paul Dennison, and Gail Dennison, Brain Gym for Business. Ventura,
CA, Edu-Kinsesthetics, Inc. 1997. Although it’s for adults, the book is easy to
“translate” for children. It’s alphabetical and has an index, very useful.

Isabel Cohen and Marcelle Goldsmith, Hands-on: How to Use Brain Gym in the
Classroom. Edu-Kinesthetics, 2002. Practical “how to” although knowing some Brain
Gym already makes the book easier to use. Wonderful variations on the movements and
fun photographs of kids in South Africa doing Brain gym.

Sharon Promislow, Making the Brain Body Connection, Rev. Ed. Enhanced
Learning and Integration, 2005. Although not specifically a B

Class rules


I spend about three weeks at the beginning of each school year, to work on the basics with all my classes: these incude, warming up-getting to know you activities, class rules , goals setting, life skills!

I’ll be able to write here about each one of them , soon….

Today, I could talk a bit about class rules and what I have found to be working in my classes! Well, I’ve tried class contracts and long discussions about which rules both the teacher and the students should follow during the school year!

First, the kids brainstorm classroom rules .My class rule is a pledge!  ” I will do nothing to interfere with the learning, safety, or respect of myself or others”.We also talk about the 3 P’s: BE PROMPT- BE PREPARED-BE POLITE! My students brainstorm all the rules they can think of and we categorize them into these three!

But, I’ve also tried to work with WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING RULES which my students just love!

The following are five classroom rules that will make your life amazingly easier. One of them is nuclear power in your hands!

If rules are only posted on your board they are not really a part of your class. You must have the rules running around in your students’ heads for them to be effective. It will also help you quiet extra talking in the class. Look for that as you read.

Teach them as follows:

Rule One: Follow directions quickly! (the gesture: make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

Rule Two: Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture: raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion. This rule will be the most commonly violated. See below for how you stop this without criticism or negativity.)

Rule Three: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (the gesture: raise your and, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

Rule Four: Make smart choices! (the gesture: tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.

Rule Five: Keep your dear teacher happy! (the gesture: hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)

In elementary school, rehearse the rules first thing in the morning, after lunch and after each recess. When you call out the rule number, your students respond with the rule itself and the correct gesture. Make the rehearsals as entertaining as possible; use a variety of voices (happy, robot, froggy) and tempos, fast, slow, super fast. For additional fun, ask of your liveliest students to lead the rules rehearsal.


Rule Two will be the most commonly violated, duh. You do not have to call anyone down; you do not have to mention names. If you are addressing the class and some kids are talking, you stop, hold up two fingers and loudly say “RULE TWO!”

Every kid in your class should repeat rule two energetically with gestures. This signals the violators to stop talking … without you needing to scold them.

Rule Five is nuclear power. Think about it- keep your dear teacher happy. THERE IS NO LOOPHOLE! No student can convince you that they are making you happy. You are the world’s greatest authority on what makes you happy. If they try to convince you they are making you happy, immediately inform them that does not make you happy.

If a student complains that they don’t know how to make you happy, tell them that following the first four rules will be just dandy.

Rule Five has no loophole.

If parents ask why their child should worry about making you happy, respond that you have the responsibility to teach their child and every other child in that class. The happier you are, the better you can do your job.

Now, let’s think briefly, about how these five classroom rules relate to brain structure.  The brain learns in five ways, by seeing, saying, hearing, doing and feeling.  When you teach the rules with the Whole Brain signs, your students’ brains are maximally operative.  They see the signs, hear the rules, say the rules and make the gestures.  If you are upbeat and entertaining in your presentation, and of course you are!, your students will also have the lovely feeling of having fun.  Also note that for all five modes of brain learning to take place for your students, you have to engage in all five modes yourself.  Whole Brain Teaching is as great for the instructor’s brain as the students’!

I have recently added this attention poster below, to help me with class management and it proved to be REALLY useful! My kids just ADORED it! I have been using this every single day, when I need to have their attention and it really WORKS!!