This is a brain break, which I learned from my colleague John Foulk, who in turn learned this from Miriam Patrick. The premise is very simple: students individually (and corporately) will create/add to a list based on a category. Call upon students one at a time in a prescribed order (such as seating), and when that student responds with a word to add to the category, write it on the board. Students cannot repeat a word already stated, and the brain break ends when someone cannot add a new word to the list. However, I have changed it so that students can help each other out when a student cannot think of anything new to add in order to keep to the brain break continuing.
Some category examples
- Fast-food chain restaurants - this topic needs a lot of defining if you choose this, as everyone has a different idea of what a fast-food restaurant is. I ended up defining it as "a restaurant where there is a drive-thru window, you have to order at an order box, and then pick up your order at a window." While restaurants may have a pickup window for mobile/online orders or offer curbside service, you must speak to a worker first at an order box!
- Chemical symbols/names of elements on the periodic table - I have printed out an alphabetical list since I myself do not remember many of these!
- Cartoon characters
- Items found in a kitchen
- Cable TV channels
- State capitals
- Current Olympic sports (both winter and summer) - Narrow this category just to the sports and not subcategories in the individual sports. For example, Athletics/Track and Field is a category but not the 100m dash since the event itself is part of that category.
- Allowing students to volunteer additional words for students who cannot think of an answer continues to add to the community building of the class. Students did not want the brain break to end!
- When I did the fast-food category, I could tell which students had grown up in/visited other parts of the country, because they would name fast food chains local to that area/region, such as In 'n' Out, Whataburger, Hardees, Karl's Jr., Jack in the Box, etc. - lots of fun!
- Because the Toyko Olympics just happened, this topic was current in students' minds.
- This is one brain break which students constantly request, so I have to keep finding new categories!