Many times, your students with dyslexia or other learning differences mistakenly believe that their brain is somehow defective. You might hear them referring to themselves as stupid. These are insults that are often used to bully or insult children with learning challenges. One of the ways you can empower your students is to teach them about how the brain works. When your students learn about how brains function can help them self-advocate to meet their own learning needs. It can help them speak confidently about their learning processes. And it can help them to create situations that are maximized for their learning success.
Your Kids Want To Learn About How Their Brain Works!
Teaching about the brain’s function will help your students buy into multisensory methods and instruction. In order to be successful, students have to be actively engaged and utilize the multisensory techniques and strategies. Also, it can also be very helpful to teach students about the connections between emotions and learning.
The resources below will provide helpful tips for discussing the parts of the brain in kid-friendly language. It’s important to take time to brainstorm all the wonderful things we can do with our brains! Think of the feelings we have when we use our brains to accomplish something, especially a task that seemed really hard at first.
Since my purpose is showing how the reading brain works to children, I move a bit deeper to explain the four lobes and their functions. I discuss and place a bit more focus on the left hemisphere, since that is where the circuitry is firing away when we are reading and processing language.
You’ll certainly want to simplify language depending on your audience, but don’t shy away from key vocabulary words like occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal with even your younger students.
It’s incredibly helpful to teach your students about their brains, but it can be a little challenging finding a range of brain resources. This list combines books, videos, models and more!
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Brain Resources You Can Use Right Away
1. Brain Hat
Your kids learn best when they can see and touch something. This fun brain hat gives them the opportunity to do that even when learning about the brain. The hat can help them better visualize their brain structure such as different regions having to do with different skills and use that visual model to help them to use their real brain efficiently. When I make this, I usually sit it on top of a baseball hat to make it more durable. BTW-This is a FREE download!
One of the most amazing things about modern brain science is the discovery of the brain’s plasticity. Not only do we never stop learning, but we can grow and stretch our brains in a variety of exciting ways. This book introduces this concept of brain plasticity in a child friendly look at brain anatomy and function. It also teaches a growth mindset that is crucial, especially for your students who may have a long way to go on their journey toward independent reading.
Using videos can be helpful for introducing information about the brain, growth mindset, and parts of the brain. Depending on your child’s personality and age, there are very simple animated explanations, to much more complex examinations of brain anatomy and function. These videos are particularly useful if the thought of explaining something as complex as the brain is overwhelming to you.
- How the Brain Works for Kids
- How Your Brain Works: Dr. Binocs Show
- Developing a Growth Mindset
- Use Your Brain: SciShow Kids
- LearnStorm Growth Mindset: The Truth About Your Brain
- Your Big Brilliant Brain: Operation Ouch
You’ll love this fascinating look inside the human brain in a nonfiction picture book appropriate even for early elementary school students. The state-of-the-art radiological images allow students to see brain structures and neurons. Computer enhanced imagery begins to unlock the mysterious secrets of the human brain.
5. Make a brain Model: My Fantastic, Elastic, Thinking Brain
Like the brain hat, the use of a brain model allows your students to see and interact with the brain in a way that is engaging and memorable. This activity uses Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain and includes a colored coded diagram for students to create and label a brain diagram. You’ll find it as a PDF and in Google Slides! This is a great activity to use with teachers, too.
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BONUS: The Language Triangle
Enjoy these mini posters as a tool for teaching your students about the role of multisensory methods in learning. This visual aid demonstrates the importance of all the components of multisensory instruction, the visual, the auditory, and the kinesthetic. When students understand how these instructional methods help them, they are going to be more committed and less likely to avoid using the tools. I’ve included several different versions in this freebie to be representative.
I hope these resources have you thinking about ways to empower your students with new knowledge about the brain!
You may also enjoy, “12 Children’s Books With Dyslexic Characters You Can’t Miss.”