Quick Bursts to Brighten the Winter Blues and Engage Young Brains

Adapted from Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar®: Brain-enhancing games to get teens moving and connecting by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor

Quick Bursts to Brighten the Winter Blues and Engage Young BrainsAs winter drags on, the gray days (or white ones) and cold nights can lead to fidgety feet anxious to be outside again and, sometimes, to blue feelings.

The brain thrives under a variety of conditions and is resilient in pulling itself up when properly tended. Music, movement, challenge, novelty, humor, and conversation are all brain boosters that can help turn sluggish days into something sunnier. Through quick, engaging moments, kids and teens can learn to harness their own brain and body power. They can amp up their energy and well-being, defuse stress, and recharge. These boosters can transform fidgety kids and teens into focused students ready to get busy on the task at hand. And it only takes a few moments to refuel.

Try out these six brain boosters with your group:

Music. Roll a die to see how many players should participate in this activity. Have players sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in their best Kermit or Miss Piggy imitation. (Feel free to choose other song/character combinations.) Players can sing one at a time, with the group voting for the best rendition, or all together.

Movement. Roll a die and multiply by 10 to determine how many seconds each student has to swing his or her hips side-to-side as many times as possible. Keep count for each student and determine the winner.

Challenge. One player has 20 seconds to think of 3 clues that will get the group to guess a particular person in the room. The group has an additional 20 seconds to guess the mystery person.

Novelty. Divide the group into even-numbered teams. Give each team 8 minutes to create a new game. The catch? The game must utilize a mirror, a suitcase, a ball, and a shovel. (Or choose your own game parts.) Present the game to the group. Have each team share how to play their game.

Humor. Create teams of 4 to 5 players. Teams send up representatives to compete in each of these categories: funniest face, craziest/most evil laugh, funniest joke, most accurate impersonation of a gorilla. Vote by applause.

Conversation. Pair up students to debate each other on a topic such as the value of texting versus face-to-face conversation. Assign one partner to each side of the argument, and give each partner 20 seconds to make his or her case.

If you want more ways to build the group and the brain, check out Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar®.

Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor are the best-selling authors of Great Group Games: 175 Boredom-Busting, Zero-Prep Team Builders for All Ages and seven other books for educators and youth workers. Nationally recognized trainers in positive youth development, service learning, and play with purpose, they partner with schools and after-school programs for professional development. Learn more at their website and blog and follow them on Twitter @TheAssetEdge.

Brain Booster in a JarSusan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor are the coauthors of Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar®.

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