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Brain-Break Activities

Brain breaks enable audience members to regroup once they have absorbed a sufficient amount of content. These activities enable participants to engage their bodies and minds through specific movements that:

*Stimulate the learning state.

*Enhance blood flow throughout the body.

*Make the training session more enjoyable.

When too much content is introduced at one time it can have a negative impact on memory retention. Brain breaks assist the process by which information is transferred from short-term to long-term memory storage. For this reason, they are an important part of learning and should be included in training programs to make them more effective and productive.

The audience’s willingness to participate in brain breaks is sometimes an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Individuals may be too intimidated to actively engage in social activities that could make them look awkward or feel uncomfortable. It helps to introduce the activity with encouragement and an appropriate level of humor. An approachable demeanor will relax the audience. It is also important to describe the brain break and how it will improve the learning experience. Typically, learners respond positively to brain breaks once they realize that they are easy, fun, and purposeful group activities.

Brain breaks should be used about once per hour, unless another activity that involves movement has already been planned. It is important for trainers to be mindful of audience members’ interest levels throughout the session, and to pick up on cues that may indicate whether people are uncomfortable.

An example of a brain-break activity that can be stimulating, fun, and effective includes the following steps:

*Prepare a list of basic yes-or-no questions, such as “Do you have blue eyes?” and “Were you born in the month of October?”

*Tell participants that they will be asked a list of questions, and that the exercise is intended to help them relax and focus.

*If they answer “yes” to a question, ask them to stand for a moment before they return to their seats. Repeat for a reasonable length of time, but long enough so that each audience member has the chance to participate.

Team-Building Activities

Successful learning is closely linked to positive experiences with movement and relationships. To engage the body during learning activities, and fulfill the need for human connection, is to increase the chances that information will be embedded in individuals’ long-term memories.

Team-building activities give participants–particularly individuals who communicate often with others in the workplace–the opportunity to meet the basic need for social contact. These activities also allow individuals to participate in learning activities that activate their bodies and minds. Team-building exercises can engage learners through human contact and movement. For example, presenters can:

*Ask participants to form a circle with their chairs.

*Ask them to answer “yes” or “no” to a series of have-you-ever questions, such as, “Have you ever been on a cruise?”

*Ask the individuals who answered “yes” to walk to the center of the circle and shake the hand of another participant that answered “yes.” These participants should also share their have-you-ever experiences with one another.

Activities that foster feelings of closeness between participants in the training space can enrich learning in many areas of training, even those that are not focused on team behavior. However, emotion is still undervalued, particularly in the corporate domain. Kuczala emphasizes that human emotion is a powerful factor in the process of learning that should be seriously considered. Emotions help individuals build stronger connections with both their coworkers and their companies.

Content-Review Activities

While repetition and rote learning have long been the most valued methods of learning, Kuczala offers a compelling alternative. He believes there is a stronger probability that information will be transferred to long-term memory if it is taught through the use of kinesthetic learning principles. This approach facilitates the processes of memory storage and comprehension with movement techniques. The theory behind kinesthetic learning is that the more associations an idea has, the easier it is to recall. Since movement is so closely linked to senses and emotions, an idea that is introduced via kinesthetic activities can be recollected through memory catalysts, such as movements, feelings, sounds, and/or smells, rather than simply a related idea.

Content-review activities are movement tools that facilitators can use when they want to help learners absorb and recall information with greater success. For example, presenters can:

*Divide the audience into four groups.

*Explain to participants how this exercise will aid memory retention.

*Give each group a few content-related topics and ask them to act each of them out with movement.

*Repeat this activity for an appropriate length of time.

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