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