4 simple activities to wake up the brain

These are the four core Brain Gym exercises, also referred to as PACE exercises (Positive, Active, Clear, Energetic). I have described these exercises as they were taught to me. There are dozens of videos and PDFs with these and other Brain Gym exercises available since I first posted this information. Directions in various resources or by different instructors may vary.

1. Drinking Water

Increases oxygen uptake by hemoglobin, conducts energy. See other links for more information about the value of hydration.

2. Cross Crawl

Brain integration: Left and right, activates both hemispheres simultaneously by crossing midline down the center of the body (in front of nose, belly button).

Right hand (or elbow) crosses over to left side of body to touch left knee. Left hand (or elbow) crosses over to right side of body to touch right knee. NOTE: If touching the opposite knee is difficult, touching the opposite shoulder or elbow, for example, will also work.

3. Brain Buttons

Brain integration: Front and back, stimulates arteries that take oxygenated blood to the brain. Suggested to help awaken learners, raise level of alertness.

Thumb and second (or third) finger massage pressure points on either side of the breastbone. Points are located in soft tissue between collarbone and first rib.

Place opposite hand on belly button.

4. Hook-Ups

Brain integration: Top and bottom, helps to give a calm and positive attitude to learning. According to my instructions, this position also helps to detoxify the body of stress hormones, as well as anchoring new learning, increasing dendritic branching in the hippocampus (memory centers of brain).

Holding arms straight out in front, place hands back to back, with thumbs pointing downward.

Hold one hand steady and cross the other so that your palms are facing, thumbs still pointing down.

Link your fingers and turn your clasped hands down and in toward your body. (Alternative: Cross arms over chest with hands under opposite arms.)

ADD: Cross your legs or your feet.
ADD: Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

Hold this position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

These are great warm-up activities. Although I would usually use them spread out throughout the course of a full-day training, they are often done together, with or without other brain gym activities, depending on the task or desired outcome. 

Although some of my participants have expressed concern that they would lose control of the kids in their class(es) if they got them up to move, I have found the opposite to be true, both in my observations with kids of all ages and also as reported by teachers who regularly use these exercises (or allow kids to get up and do them on their own) throughout the day. As one practitioner told me, “One minute of Brain Gym buys me 20 minutes of [the kids’] attention.”

Related resources:

Should Classrooms Ban Water Bottles?
The “Ideal” Student: The students we were taught to teach
I’m Hyperactive, You’re Hyperactive: Implications for a diagnosis
Increasing Success for ALL Students
Literacy: What’s Movement Got to Do with It?
Multiple Intelligences: Many ways to be “smart”
Ways to Reach More Students: Accommodating a Variety of Learners
Working with Different Modality Strengths and Limitations: Characteristics and strategies
Your Personal Learning Preferences
Fear, Stress, and Learning

© 1997, 2001, 2008, 2012, 2022, Dr. Jane Bluestein

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