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Activities & Projects for Home & School

 Activities & Projects for Home & School


These following are suggested student involvement activities to support and reinforce concepts, terminology and thinking processes for learning about Coping Skills and Brain Works for Kids. Teachers and parents are also encouraged to review and select from these student activities or class projects. There are other learning projects found in the “Coping Challenges” section on “Ways Our Brain Confuses and Fools Us”.

Teachers, parents or students who create their own ideas for interesting learning activities or projects for pre-teens involving the coping brain are invited to submit them for publication in the Brain Works & Coping Skills e-newsletter for pre-teens, their parents and teachers.

If Our Brains Could Talk Project for Home & School
Practice Being a “Lizards’ Wizard”
Start a school “Brain Works & Coping Skills Week”
What if Our Brains Could Talk?
Brain-Based Coping Skills Vocabulary Words for Kids
Analyzing Advertising Project: How advertising targets your brain
The Coping & Caring Crocodile Rap

  If Our Brains Could Talk Project for Home & School

Students in groups of three team members can take turns role playing being one of the three coping brains – reptilian, emotional and thinking. For some ideas about each coping brain might say, go to “What if our brains could talk” imaginary dialogue.

Start by randomly selecting, by number, one of the “Upset Cards” from “Name that Upset Game”. Use this upset to make up how each brain might act or “talk” when it’s dealing with that particular upset card. Or students can discuss using a specific upset that many kids think is difficult to get over. That upset would be used for this role playing activity. This activity can have three rounds, so each student gets a chance to role-play being one of the three coping brains.

  Practice Being a “Lizards’ Wizard”

Students in groups of four can take turns creating a short play or story presented to the class. This involves each student playing one of these four reptilian characters: Sad & Lonely Lizard; Awful Angry Alligator; Shy & Shameful Chameleon; and Fierce & Fearful Dragon. To make this more creative, each student in the group makes a paper head representing their "Lizard" character, and puts it over their head while acting and speaking their part. Students may also want to present their plays or skits at a school assembly during a school “Brain Works & Coping Skills Week” (see below).

What is a “Lizards’ Wizard?” When students play the “Lizards Game” in their classrooms, they pretend to have magic powers (like a Lizards' Wizard) who can give feelings brains to the above four reptiles. Since real reptiles aren’t mammals like dogs, cats and humans -- who already have an emotional (mammalian) brain --they can't feel happy, sad or shameful. Unlike mammals, reptiles don’t show emotions like wagging their tales or licking your face or fingers to show how much they love and like being with you. We also know that reptiles can’t talk and explain their feelings like us when we become angry or afraid. Students can practice these higher brain functions by being a lizards’ wizard who helps reptiles understand what may have happened to each of the four "Lizards" characters to make them feel the way they do about themselves. For example, how did Lizzie the Lizard become so sad and lonely; Angus the Alligator get to feel so awful and angry, Sally the Chameleon get so shy and shameful; and why did Freddie the Dragon become so fierce and fearful. Students learn by imagining they are wizards who not only can give reptiles an emotional brain to have feelings, but they also practice using their own thinking brain to express the reptiles’ feelings since lizards need the student's thinking brain to help them use words to figure out why they feel the way they do.

A variation of “Being a Lizards' Wizard.” Again, students in teams of four begin by choosing one of the four reptiles to make up a cartoon story why each "Lizard" character might have the hurt feelings they do. The cartoon strip can also show what these four reptiles might do or say when they meet each other. This project involves using our unique, human thinking brain language and imagination that helps to explain feelings. Students also enjoy drawing what these four "Lizard" characters might look like in a cartoon strip.


  Start a school “Brain Works & Coping Skills Week”

Create a school-wide week-long celebration learning about “Brain Works & Coping Skills for Kids.” Here are some activities and projects your school may decide to include during that week:

1. Create a class Brain Works & Coping Skills Poster Contest that gives students rewards and recognition for creating the best posters to “sell” the importance of kids learning healthy brain works & coping skills at home and school. For example, students might create slogans and illustrations that point out the dangers of letting our Lizard (reptilian) Brain control their Thinking Brain (neocortex), etc. Or the posters can show the difference between humans (with thinking and emotional brains) compared to reptilian brain behavior of alligators.

2. Have a “Test Your Brain Works & Coping IQ” contest for students in grades 4, 5 and 6. (Check out "Resources & Activities" questions on this website.) Have a competition among same-grade classrooms and recognize the classes with the highest number of right answers. The contest can include thinking brain skills such as:
a. Use the coping skills vocabulary and match terms with definitions by drawing lines across to connect to a column of “definitions” for each term. View the coping skills vocabulary list to find a list of terms that might be used for this exercise and the crossword puzzle in “b” below. Select terms that are age appropriate. Parents, teachers or students might add other words or terms to this exercise which they find while doing through this website.
b. Create a large “Brain & Coping IQ Crossword Puzzle that students work in teams to complete. The crossword puzzle can be duplicated so that student teams work against time to see who finishes the most squares. This puzzle might be used as an after school or rainy day indoor activity. The key is to get students to contribute as members of a team (teamwork) as well as by individuals.
Make sure to share student activities and projects at home or school with other schools and parents. Send a brief description (with photo, if possible) for publication in the: Brain Works & Coping Kids e-newsletter. This electronic newsletter contains reports about students using these activities and projects, or creating their own. The newsletter also contains quiz questions, topics for parents, story ideas, art and science projects.


  What if Our Brains Could Talk?

An Imaginary Dialogue between Three Brain Levels Students Can Act Out in Groups of Three

Reptilian (survival) Brain:
  • Danger, danger, danger.
  • Watch out and get ready to attack to protect myself!
  • I’d better get ready to run and hide if I want to be alive.
  • Oh, Oh, I think I’m going to die from an emotional wound!
  • I better watch out. Something is going to happen to me.
  • When I am filled with ANGER, it’s because I worry about being in D-ANGER.
  • I’m so strong I sometimes overpower the feelings brain, then I DON’T CARE.
  • When I get a hurt feeling, I just want revenge – to hurt other people.
Emotional or Mammalian (feelings) Brain:
  • I feel close to my mother since she feeds and comforts me.
  • I depend upon my parents to protect me.
  • I want other people to like me because it makes me feel safe.
  • I feel bad when my parents get angry at me. I really need them to love me.
  • My feelings get hurt when people disappoint or make fun of me.
  • I want to belong and feel part of a group, so it really hurts when I am rejected.
  • Sometimes when people are mean to me, I tell my reptilian brain to get revenge.
  • Deep down I really do care about others; and that’s why my feelings get hurt.
Neo-Cortex (thinking) Brain:
  • When I can’t cope with a painful experience it feels like I’ll never get over it.
  • If I haven’t learned to cope with hurt feelings, I can pretend I don’t have ANY feelings.
  • I’ll try to think why I am feeling so upset.
  • I know I can work this out and get over my hurt feelings because I’m smart.
  • Let’s see if I can name the type of hurt I have inside.
  • If I can just give a name to my hurt feelings they won’t seem so bad.
  • There’s nothing wrong with me when my feelings are hurt; it just shows how much I really care about someone or something.
  • Sometimes I just have to tell the lizards brain to “shut up!” I won’t really die since it’s only my feelings that are hurt.


  Brain-Based Coping Skills Vocabulary Words for Kids

These are in alphabetical order

If the term or word isn’t understandable on this website you can always use a dictionary or try finding a definition using the website “Wikipedia”. If you still don’t understand or find the meaning of a term, you can always ask us for help by clicking Comments & ?’s.

Tip: Print out words and terms before you research and write your definitions
  • ambivalence
  • anxiety
  • betrayal
  • brain imaging (functional MRI)
  • coping skills (Can Overcome Painful Experiences)
  • emotions
  • emotional (mammalian) brain
  • emotional pain vs. physical pain
  • emotional resilience
  • empathy
  • four core wounding experiences: loss, rejection, betrayal, humiliation
  • healing help questions (see Healing Help card text)
  • harmful behavior toward myself
  • harmful behavior toward others
  • helpful behavior toward others
  • humiliation
  • impulses
  • instinctive behavior
  • learned behavior
  • loss
  • neocortex (human thinking) brain
  • neural networks
  • neurological connections in thinking brain (10,000,000,000)
  • neuroscience
  • rejection
  • reptilian (survival) brain
  • resilience
  • self-acceptance
  • survival instinct
  • sympathy
  • turning an upset upside down
  • why bullies and other hurt people hurt people
  • vulnerable


  Analyzing Advertising Project: How advertising targets your brain

Purpose
This student project helps to understand how advertising often targets separate parts of our coping brain to sell products they want you to buy. Companies spend from thousands to millions of dollars on advertising that quite often targets your emotional or reptilian brain functions. Since lots of advertising is directed at young people, this activity helps students to understand how “instinctive” coping brains, rather than our thinking brain (neocortex), are often the target of these ads. This type of advertising must work, or companies wouldn’t spend so much money trying to reach our instinctive brains to sell their products.

Steps for this Project

1. Students should first learn about and discuss in class all three coping brain functions (see “The Coping Brain”).

2. Divide the class into three advertising analysis teams:

One team will look for examples of actual ads for products in magazines, newspapers or junk mail that targets our thinking brain (neocortex). These ads use lots of information, statistics and “research” results to convince you to buy their product.

Another team will also look for examples of ads that target our emotional brain. These ads appeal to our need to be attractive, smart or popular. Since emotional brain wants others to like and admire us, advertisers use words or pictures that suggest if we buy and use their product that’s exactly what will happen.

The third team looks for examples of ads that target our reptilian brain. These ads appeal to our reptilian instincts that include primitive survival needs to be strong, be more powerful than others, or have more sex appeal to find a mate.

3. Students glue each ad they find onto a large sheet of paper. On a sheet of lined paper next to each ad students explain why this particular ad appeals to one or more of our thinking, emotional or reptilian brain functions.

4. After all the ads are collected and analyzed by each student team, students take turns explaining why they think their ads they clipped out target one or another of our three coping brains.

5. Finally, teachers may want to display these team ads and students' written analysis of how they target our brain. These examples can make up a bulletin board exhibit so that other 4th, 5th or 6th graders (and their parents) can learn how much of advertising we all see every day in magazines, mailers, newspapers and TV targets the coping brains students have just learned about. After displaying these ads with the student analysis of brain functions targeted, the class can evaluate which of our three coping brains are most often targeted by advertising to kids and adults.This project helps students better understand how to be smarter consumers

  The Coping & Caring Crocodile Rap

Suggestion: Students may want to use rhythm instruments to keep up the beat while reciting this rap as a group.

I was the meanest reptile in the bunch
Who ate whole animals just for lunch
I didn’t know what made me so vicious (pronounced vish'-us)
'Cause what I ate just seemed so delicious (pronounced dee-lish’-us)

I hid in the swamp feeling oh so miserable
Just my head and snout were all that was visible
If something came near I’d show ‘em my choppers
So I had no friends, not even grass hoppers

Then I met Lizard Wizard who makes feelings talk
That’s how I got over being an angry and sad croc
Now I don’t blame or hide when I’m hurting or fearful
I know hurt feelings are normal -- and so is being tearful

When my feelings are hurt I get over upsets lots faster
Using my brain’s coping skills keeps me from disaster
Now I’m loving and caring and feel like a million
That’s why I’m now one happy crocodilian (pronounced crocko-dil’-ee-en)

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