TOPICS > Education > American Graduate

Coach Tom recommends his favorite games for a classroom ‘brain break’

BY April Brown  February 4, 2014 at 4:02 PM EST
Tom O'Neill, the Playworks coach at Fox Hill Elementary School in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana shares a new game with his students at indoor resource.  Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

Tom O’Neill, the Playworks coach at Fox Hill Elementary School in suburban Indianapolis, shares a new game with his students at indoor recess. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

The PBS NewsHour’s American Graduate team recently visited Indianapolis, where we saw how one elementary school there was making sure students were not just learning during the day, but moving and getting exercise as well. (See the full story here.)

Tom O’Neill, or Coach Tom, is the Playworks coordinator at Fox Hill Elementary. He makes sure kids have organized games to play at recess and visits each classroom regularly to give kids “brain breaks,” a short time away from classwork where they can move around. We asked him to share some of his favorite games.

I love to play games, and over time I have discovered a few favorite games of mine. One of my favorite indoor games is Mystery Creature. It helps develop critical thinking, and imagination for students and adults. During the game, everyone needs a brain break, and get some energy out. A great game for a quick break, and to safely get energy out, is Up, Down, Stop, Go. This game uses listening skills and body control. My all-time favorite game to teach, play and watch is Ultimate Ball. It teaches everyone teamwork, strategy, physical awareness, and timing. The game is a mixture of football, soccer and includes a lot of running. All of these games are fun to play with kids and adults.

American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.