A Flexible Brain Revisited

10 Apr

 

 

I published a post quite a few years ago about making a flexible brain.  It was a very popular post at the time. I decided to re-publish this post because for me the jello brain lesson tended to come up in the month of April and is relevant for many today when using the popular Superflex  program by Michelle Garcia Winner who is author of Social Thinking Curriculums.  For those who do not know the program, There is a character, Superflex,  who conquers Rock Brain who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing and being rigid in his thinking pattern.

The lesson required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in an ever changing environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible brain. The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain and the mold itself for the inflexible version.

I was able to order a brain mold from a Halloween prop store.  Now there are quite a few alternatives where you can order a mold on line.  Just do a search for brain molds.  It was fairly inexpensive and I used it multiple times.

The manual did not give actual directions or a recipe for the mold.  I have a bad history with Jello molds from the 1970s. My jello would stick to the mold and never turn out and lose it’s shape. There was also the problem of trying to work in the time line of classes  at  two different  sites. I needed to be able to transport it.  I figured the Jello would melt and be over the table before the first session was up.

I researched Jello brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid even if it wasn’t in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  So I settled for the following recipe. It worked well.

You need the following ingredients:

3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporated milk (12 ounce can), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable oil spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its shape for several hours. In between sessions I slipped it back into the mold and put it back in the refrigerator.

For the lesson, slips of paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns pulling  these out and talking  about them.

I debated the best method of getting the papers in the Jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold. This worked better than pouring the jello mixture over them. This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain kind of resealed itself and was in good shape after the papers were removed.  I reinserted the laminated papers into the same locations for the next group and used it again.

No one asked if they could eat it.  I wouldn’t recommend it after all that examination with tweezers and handling of papers.

I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.  The photo at the top is my original jello brain.

A Flexible Brain

17 Apr

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.

Social Communication Skills

22 Jun

Social communication requires using non-verbal and verbal skills effectively when interacting with others.  Non-verbal communication includes the expressions on our face, the tone and volume we use, and the body movements or proximity that we use when communicating.  It is recognizing when we need to give someone a chance to talk or take a turn. It is being able to see the perspective of someone else. We pick up cues  from our listeners to know that they are listening  and understanding  what we say.

Someone that doesn’t have strong social skills may have difficulty with peer interactions, be considered rude, or not communicate effectively with individuals or  a group.    These are very important skills, needed to maintain friendships and employment later in life.

Activities on this page were originally created for a social skills group I was conducting at the elementary and middle school levels. You may feel free to use the activities for children you serve on your caseload, in your classrooms, or your individual child.  I can not guarantee results by using these materials . Please seek professional guidance with children who seem beyond your scope or experience.  They are not meant to be copied for commercial purposes or posted for downloads on another site.  Yon may link to this site. 

Small Group Activities

  • Who are you anyway? :  An activity that practices asking questions and using the information to draw a conclusion.
  • Paper tower:   A teamwork activity that promotes cooperation and communication to accomplish a task.

Tangram Puzzles

  • Tangram puzzles:  A teamwork activity that promotes problem solving, cooperation, and communication.  
  • Shamrock Tangram:  A puzzle for the month of March

 

Barrier Games

  • Barrier Game: An activity that promotes perspective taking, positional vocabulary building, and accurate communication.
Barrier Game Cards

Eggs-actly barrier and BINGO game:  a free sample set.  

click board for free sample
  • Eggs-actly barrier game full set at Teachers Pay Teachers
Click cover for direct link to TPT
click cover for direct link to TPT

Brain Mold and Jello Brain

Flexible brain jello recipe available on this post with explanation for its use. Used with a flexible brain curriculum and brain jello mold. A Flexible Brain Revisited

Question game in a Jeopardy format

  •  Jeopardy:  I use this game with my social language groups to make  students aware of the need for providing appropriate detail.  If questions do not contain appropriate detail there may be more than one answer for an item in a category.

Cards are available as a supplement to this activity. They provide examples of topics and responses people use during a conversation. They give structured practice for responding appropriately.

Click on cover for Direct link to TPT

 Click here  for a free sample of Reply to a Comment

  •  Chutes and Marbles:  A teamwork activity that promotes communication and problem solving.  It promotes math/science concepts of slope and level.
  •  Previous command: This is a good warm up activity if you are doing language groups. There are written instructions connected to the title.  Unfortunately, the link to the free sample sound track in the instructions no longer works. However, here is a link to the the CD in case you want to investigate it further.  Music in motion: BODY JIVE CD

Trial and Error Activities

  • Crocodile Pass:   This activity encourages students to learn from mistakes and to move on.  It requires them to use their short term memory to remember a pattern and make inferences to predict the pattern.  It encourages using observation as a learning method.
  •  This activity was updated recently and 2 themed products were added.  It is ideal for a social-classroom party activity. It is now available in the themes below. Click here for a direct link to Teachers Pay Teachers.
  •  Suction Cup Ball and Target:  This activity provides rehearsal for beginning a conversation, asking questions and answering. questions on topic. It can be used as an ice breaker for a new group.
  • Bad Thing, Good thing:  Cards that provide both perspectives for a given scenario. To down load  free sample cards, click on title text. To get a complete set from Teachers pay Teachers click on the cover.

Bad Thing Good Thing direct link to TPT
Click on cover for direct link to TPT

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A Start to the New School Year for Speech Students

26 Aug

We often start the new school year trying to get acquainted with our students. There are the new incoming students you know nothing about except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. If there is more than that, often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t that accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get the last progress report.

Then there are the parents who want to give their child a fresh start in a new school and see if anyone will notice prior difficulties if nothing is said. This is usually the child with behavior challenges among other things. Don’t worry! The teacher will seek you out within the first couple of days.

I love those parents that have kept all the paperwork in a file folder and can give you up to date and missing copies. In some cases, technology has improved things by linking records across schools but sometimes it still takes awhile before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out student needs so you can get that schedule written.

Then there are your former students. There are your 1st graders working on sibilants who are sporting missing front teeth or new braces. That stubborn /r/ difficulty may have clicked in but you need to find that out because of course that child’s paperwork is due to be renewed the first couple of weeks of school. The best are those who were unintelligible a year or so ago and now speak clearly. The new teacher questions why they have speech on their records.

To start out the new year, I usually haul out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and I get an idea of where to start. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you can often find at Target, The Dollar Store or any party favors section. It would also be possible to use a dice or spinner with numbers. The questions can be written on a sheet of paper and numbered. I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.

To prepare for this, I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6. I make a corresponding list of numbers and have the students brainstorm conversation starters.

For example at the beginning of the school year they may come up with questions such as:

1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?

The students take turns throwing the ball at the target and then answering the questions according to the number area hit. The other students are then required to ask a follow up question according to the answer and topic.

I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.

I hope you find this post useful and have a good beginning to your school year.

Speech Therapy Tasks for our High School Level Students

26 Nov

I know finding speech therapy materials for high school students can be difficult.  I also know that some students still benefit from  having skills broken down into specific learning modules.  They get lost when presented passages containing complex sentences and unknown vocabulary. Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Cyber Sale so I thought I would take advantage by showcasing two of my products that work with the High School crowd.

Recently, I have been a substitute Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at a high school location.  I found at the  high school level it is often more relevant for students to bring their class work for speech therapy.  However, the students being served often forget and come empty handed.  I try to have activities on hand to make the time productive.  I thought I would showcase 2 activities that have worked well with encompassing what they are working on. They are Word Association Cards for vocabulary development  and Sentence Sequence Task Cards for complex sentence comprehension and development. There are free samples in the Vocabulary section of this blog for the Association cards and in the Expressive section for the Sentence Sequence Task Cards.  If you haven’t tried them yet you should.  If you want to get the full sets at my TPT store, they happen to be part of the  Cyber Sale which makes them a real bargain.

Our speech students are often behind with developing vocabulary.  This affects them throughout all their classes. One way to boost vocabulary is to develop word association skills. They need to be able to compare and contrast new words to integrate them into the vocabulary they already have. I often tell them this analogy: Your brain is a closet with different shelves and drawers  holding different words. You try to place things together that are similar such as your socks in a sock drawer.   If you just try to memorize words without making connections with other words you know, it is like throwing everything  in one big pile on the floor and trying to find a brown sock to match another brown sock.   You won’t be able to find or remember what you have when you need it. It seems many of them can relate to this.   Therefore categorizing and making associations is an important skill to learn for their academic career.   This is a skill that gets better with practice.

High School students are often required to take notes on subjects that use a lot of   complex sentence forms.  They they need to be able to consolidate information and retain the meaning in their notes.  Sequencing events using complex sentence forms is a natural way to get students to produce complex sentences and practice this.  These cards present two different activities to address production and comprehension and promote better note taking.

In Activity 1, the students are instructed to use the main details of the three given sentences to form one complex sentence using connecting words such as; and, so, but, because, before, after, when, while, that, and then. In sentence production, students replace parts of the sentence with pronouns to prevent redundancy. They  need to consider which information is most important, hold information into memory, think about time sequence, and then manipulate the ideas into one sentence.  These skills are used in note taking as well as comprehending complex sentences in reading passages.

In Activity 2 the student is presented sentence examples. The students may have developed some of these while completing the first activity. One of the sentences does not have the same meaning as the other two or is an incorrect use of the conjunction.  The students are instructed to find the incorrect sentence. The answer is provided in a QR code in the lower right corner of the card  or by using the answer sheet. Students can correct the error sentence for additional practice.  Student are often motivated by using technology and appreciate the QR code. It means the cards can also be used for independent practice.

I hope you find these products useful and they free up your time from lesson planning. Happy Holidays