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.