Warming up your brain for work

Warming up your brain for work!

by Belinda Howard
6 May 2020

You wouldn’t go for a run without first stretching and warming up, and you shouldn’t start writing before warming up your brain. The brain should be treated like the muscles in your body; preparing it for writing, and thinking more generally, will optimise your performance once you begin. A good brain warm up stimulates brain activity and sets the wheels of productivity in motion.

Brainteasers, puzzles and other activities like these are designed to kickstart your brain and get you thinking creatively. These can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, and completed while performing regular tasks such as making the bed or walking to school.

Here are 7 ways you can warm up your brain and prepare for work:
  1. Count backwards from 100 (to extend yourself, try this in multiples of 2, 5, 4, 6, 8 etc)
  2. Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand
  3. Alphabet Soup – think of a theme and then think of a word that relates to that theme for every letter of the alphabet
  4. Listen to classical music – there are studies that have shown that listening to classical music can have a positive effect on your brain function, mood and mental state.
  5. Double Doodle – take a pen in both hands and try to draw a picture. This activity clears your mind and has been shown to improve productivity
  6. Brain dumping – This is a simple process of transferring all your thoughts to paper. Grab a notebook and anything that goes through your mind - write it down.
  7. Brain games – Suduko, crosswords, brain teasers. Check out our free resources of brain teasers to get you started.

In my classroom I use one of these at the beginning of every lesson. Each week I have the same process.


We crashed into the week with a brainteaser from the Mighty Minds Ignite Your Thinking eBooks.

This week we completed Farmer Bill’s Boat Ride. Check it out below and if you want to have a crack at the answer head on over to our Facebook Teacher Group or our Instagram page and pop up your answer to enter the competition.

Brain Teaser

Farmer bill’s boat ride

Farmer Bill is taking a wolf, a monkey, and a watermelon across the river. The boat he has can only fit himself and one animal or watermelon. The wolf cannot be left with the monkey alone on the riverbank because it will eat it. The monkey cannot be left with the watermelon alone because it will eat it. How can he get both animals and the watermelon across the river intact?


The theme of the week “Change” was placed up on the board and students had to complete an alphabet soup. Thinking up words that relate to change for every letter of the alphabet. I offered up a muesli bar for the first person to complete the task and the competition was fierce.


On Tuesday we spend a lot of time going over strategies to cope with change. I put up the poster that all the students had seen the day before on the screen. I asked the students to not talk for 4 minutes, turned off the lights, turned on the classical music and let them sit and think. We did not follow this up with anything and just moved on with our lesson. I have to say it was the most productive lesson of the week.


It was time to doodle. All the students had a pen in each hand and once again a muesli bar was the prize. The drawing was a butterfly. Throughout the week we had this theme around change and a butterfly was in the poster from the day before – I chose this as a mental stimulus to have them think back to the day before and the strategies to cope with change. Once again, the competition in the room was fantastic and the results were amazing. The upbeat mood of the room continued throughout the morning.


Brain Dump Day! Each student is given an A3 piece of paper and they were to write down or draw everything they could think of. Brain dump day can get emotional at times. Students are given the opportunity to think back about the highs and lows of the week. We want to create resilient young adults and self-reflection is key.

These practises create a consistent process warming up the brain for learning. They only take up 5 minutes of our time. More importantly, I have found they are not only fun but essential for setting the tone for the day. My students come out motivated and ready to learn.

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