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.

Social Skill Activity Using Tangram Puzzles

1 Mar

A Tangram Puzzle is an old Chinese tile game that consists of seven geometric shapes called tans.  The tans usually consist of a square, 5 triangles and a parallelogram. The shapes can be used to form various shapes and designs.  I used the original square but also developed a Shamrock puzzle because this lesson was presented  in  March. I would do the shamrock after the square because it tends to be more difficult.

I have used these puzzles when working with my social groups as a cooperative activity.  It is a good activity to work on problem solving, seeing another person’s perspective, using directive language and cooperating within a group.   Hopefully you have had a chance to work on some of these skills before this activity and this will allow you a chance to observe and encourage their development.

To begin the activity you need a square puzzle printed out on cardstock for each student in the group. They cut the square apart into individual shapes. At its simplest level each student mixes their pieces up into a pile and then puts them back together into a square shape. The difficulty and need for interaction can be increased by having students mix their pieces of the puzzle with other students.   They choose puzzle pieces from the mix  and then try to put their square back together again. This forces students to look at the pieces they have and what other students have.  They then need to negotiate and trade for the pieces they need to make the original square.

There are two free downloads for this activity.  One is the square pattern and the other is a shamrock pattern .  I hope your students learn from and enjoy this activity.

                                                Square Tangram pattern

 Shamrock Tangram pattern

 

Recently I found I have Irish in my DNA so I leave you with this Irish saying.

Life is like a cup of tea,
it’s all in how you make it.

Sustainable Web Hosting by Canvas Host

Sustainable Web Hosting by Canvas Host

 

 

Crocodile Dentist Adapted for Communication

7 Feb

I updated Crocodile Dentist with a new communication board.   It was a popular game with my early language learners and I managed to wear out two crocodiles since the original posting in 2013. This was a great game for speech therapy reinforcement and to encourage communication. Apparently some of you are still using it.

Readers  have requested the communication  board I made to go along with the game but unfortunately I don’t have it any longer.  It was left behind with the game when I moved on to other schools.  I no longer have access to the program Boardmaker to print the digital copy. However, there is a free program called Picto-Selector that I have been using to make communication boards.  This program may be a good option for some of you.  Click on the colored print to find the site to download it. I made the board below using it. If you want to download this board click on the board below.

Meanwhile, here are the game adaptations I posted about in 2013.

Crocodile Dentist is a plastic crocodile that has a spring loaded mouth.  The mouth closes when a certain tooth is pushed down. Kids enjoy the suspense of seeing who is going to get bit. I give the  kids an option of using using a tongue depressor because some take this quite seriously. The trigger tooth changes location each time the mouth is opened.

Some of you may already use this game for reinforcement.  I thought you might like to know how you can expand its use a little further.  I use it to expand a student’s verbal output to 2 to 3 word phrases using a communication board and to follow directions using prepositions.

I colored the teeth alternating colors using permanent markers.  I used pink, green, and orange because I already had a die that had those colors.  If you don’t have a die you can make a spinner or use colors for a die you have.

For my students with limited verbal abilities, I use the communication board along with the die in a plastic jar.  I have the students shake the die to get the color of tooth they need to push down.  I then model phrases using the communication board while playing the game.  The game creates a lot of opportunities for repetition of phrases such as “I have ….” or “push down green tooth”.  I also reinforce saying “your turn” and “my turn.”   After repetition the students start to say the appropriate phrase when you point to the correct icons as a prompt.  Finally, they may prompt themselves by pointing to the icons and verbalizing.  This is a good way to break up an imitative pattern that often happens when training non-verbal children and uses a natural context for turn taking.

The colors are used in the direction cards also.  Click on the free download icon for the cards.  Cards were made using the concept vocabulary:  next to, beside, between, right, left, colors, not, side, front, either/or.  Children take turns drawing the cards and following the directions for the tooth to be pushed down.  We play a variation by giving each child three poker chips.  They feed the crocodile a chip if he bites.  The person who feeds all three chips is the winner.             

 I provided a word program down load because I thought people may need to adjust the color words for their needs. If you have any difficulties with this, leave me a comment.  Print out the cards and have the students pull them out of a bag and then follow the directions while playing the game.

A reminder that Teachers Pay Teachers is having a February sale.  If you have been putting off purchasing, now is a chance to get a discount. Don’t forget to use the code.

 

 

Antonym Reversal Sentences and Free Trial Task Cards

14 Jan

 

February is the month I usually focus on antonyms.  You may remember some of my  past February bulletin boards that had an antonym theme to them. Some of my language learners still have difficulties with antonyms following 3rd grade which is when the Common Core has them listed for proficiency.  A lot of my therapy materials seemed a bit childish for older students and they were tired of them by that point. I decided to create some task cards especially for them. This led me to producing task cards that were at a sentence level and using a little more advanced vocabulary then you would find in the early grades. I still include pictures because some of my students really benefit from visual cues. I like them self checking so that students can use them independently and for homework.  As usual, I will post some trial cards for my readers to test out. There is a set of 12 cards.

I have a set of 40 cards at my TPT store if you find them useful and would like more.  Click on the button below and it will take you directly to them.

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.  Click on the covers for a direct link to TPT

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.

Readers Notice: This blog has been updated to let readers know the products now have the TPT interactive layer added and are appropriate for distance learning.  This allows students to circle or underline the answers or  hide the answers if you wish.