The Parts of the Brain

Today we began our journey into the world of mindfulness! One of our goals in Grade 1 is to learn not only to recognize when our bodies and brains are not calm, but to also learn what to do to keep our bodies calm and ready to learn! This mindfulness journey is one your child will be on throughout their entire life and I encourage all of my students’ families to join our class in this journey and practice being more mindful in our very busy world!

Today we learned about three parts of the brain! We looked at the poster below and at a video about how to make a brain with our hands. The song in the video posted at the end will remind us of these three parts of the brain and introduces the term Core Practice which is a breathing technique we will be using to help keep our brains and bodies calm and ready to learn.

The prefrontal cortex is the wise leader and helps us make decisions.  It is the learning, reasoning and thinking centre of the brain.

The amygdala is the security guard and keeps us safe. It regulates our our emotions. When we are in a positive emotional state, the amygdala sends incoming information to the prefrontal cortex. When a child is in a negative state (stressed or fearful) the amygdala prevents the input from passing along to the prefrontal cortex and instead the amygdala processes the information in an automatic reflexive response of “fight, flight, or freeze.”

The hippocampus is the memory saver and allows us to learn. It also helps us manage our response to fear and threats.


The Power of Yet

Although we already know that mistakes make our brain grow it is important that we also learn that just because we can’t do something at this moment in time doesn’t mean we will never learn to do it!  In the world of growth mindset this is called the Power Of Yet! An important thing for all of us to remember is to not be afraid to ask for help!  Some children (and adults) feel if they ask for help it means they are not smart! We want the children to not be embarrassed to ask for help as when a child asks for help he or she learns new things and therefore your brain grows!

Check out this video about the Power Of Yet:

Carol Dweck: The Power Of Yet Ted Talk (For Parents)

Try incorporating some of this language at home:


Bubble Gum Brain!

Today we read the story Bubble Gum Brain: Ready, Get Mindset…Grow!

The character with the Bubble Gum Brain likes to chew on thoughts, flex, bend and stretch his brain and expand the way he thinks! He knows that making GREAT MISTAKES helps him learn!

The character Brick Brain thinks things are not going to change much and that he is how he is and that is just how it is. He believes things are not going to change much for him!

Most young children are full of hope and optimism. They think and truly believe they can do anything! But as children get older, they begin to realize that life gets harder.Throughout life both children and adults tend to cover up their thinking strategies with a “wrapper”, inviting a fixed mindset to dominate. As a result, society tends to deflate optimism, and people end up searching for praise instead of progress. (From Back of the Book)

A person using a Bubble Gum brain may sound like this:

That looks fun!
I can’t wait to try that out!
I love to play hockey!
I know I can do this I remember I have to try and……..
I just can’t figure this out …….YET!
I hope I can figure out how to do that because I think it would be fun!
This math looks like a real brain stretcher…..and its HUGE! It is going to take some time to get this done!
Studying for my test really paid off! Maybe I should start studying early for next weeks test too!

A person using Brick Brain sounds like this:

This looks too hard.
What if I can’t do it?
I have the best batting average on my team!
I just can’t figure this out at all!
There is no way my teacher can expect me to do that. It is way to hard for me!
There is no way I am ever going to get this!
I can’t even do this why should I even try?
I stink at free throws but I don’t ever worry because I am fantastic at defence.
This is hopeless. Forget it! I quit!
I totally aced my test. It was so easy. I probably won’t even study for next week’s test.
I did try. It is too hard.

We need to teach children (and ourselves) to develop a growth mindset. Everyone needs to know it is okay to make a lot of great mistakes! Once children feel like they have a hope you will be amazed at what they can accomplish.

It is not about how much talent you have, or how much stuff you can do. What matters most is how hard you work, at becoming a better YOU!