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Rocket Ship Theory: 10 Brain Boosting Activities for Parents and Therapists who are now the 24/7 Teachers
This article provides information of why brain boosting activities are important. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…blastoff!! The all too familiar countdown for a rocket ship blasting off into space is the perfect example of why our kids need brain boosting activities.
A booster on a rocket ship is a propellant that gives additional thrust to lift the rocket higher in the air as it goes into space. Brain boosting activities provide similar “combustion” for a child. They are propellants or “boosters” designed to help children think, learn and problem solve.
Brain boosting activities may seem simple when we do them at home, almost too simple at times to make any difference at all. However, I can assure you, their effects are far-reaching for a child’s learning development. The idea is to help children take the tools and resources we have provided them with at school and at home and apply those same principles in the outside world.
Why provide Brain Boosting Activities?
Brain Boosting activities are meant to enhance or boost brain power function. No matter if children are homeschooled or if they attend a regular private or public school, it’s important to provide them with brain boosting exercises to support their learning readiness.
With more recess being taken away, electronic devices and kids staying indoors now more than in previous generations, as parents, we need to create opportunities for kids to remain active at home. Research has found that family involvement strongly relates to a students’ performance and achievement.
How is the Brain influenced by Brain Boosting Activities?
Purposeful movement, sensory activities and meaningful experiences create a strong foundation for helping the brain make sense of all the information it receives. In the first few years of a child’s life, kids need stimulating environments, multisensory activities and exploration-based activities for brain development.
Early experience with a variety of tools, manipulatives, learning materials and creative projects increases the brain’s capacity. Activities that are both meaningful and interesting can keep a child’s focused attention even if the activity is repetitive in nature.
A child’s attention is naturally drawn to an activity that is new or unusual. Even taking a familiar activity and applying something new, such as adding new materials, can sustain a child’s interest and attention. Likewise, doing activities in a different way invites flexibility and creative thinking. This is not only increases a child’s attention and creativity for independent play, it improves their attention and focus later down the road for classroom learning.
If children can view objects or situations in different ways, they can increase their ability to see new possibilities and find creative solutions to new and changing problems. They will become our out-of-the-box thinkers.
Brain Boosting Application
When participating in brain boosting activities, most children don’t even realize they are learning. Many brain boosting activities can be adapted to any age group. Sometimes a 5-year-old can do what a 7-year-old can do, and a 7-year-old may enjoy a 5-year-old activity.
When these types of activities are broken up into teachable pieces, you can create different varieties and as many or as few as you would like. Activities like these don’t have to be complicated or break the bank with buying equipment. Most of the items in your home can be used to get your kids active and moving.
10 Brain Boosting Activities
If you need ideas for brain boosting activities, here are 10 of our favorites you can do right now that are interactive and enjoyable. Many of these activities focus on a specific part of learning and brain development (for example, communication, following directions, speech and language, crossing the midline, social skills, etc.).
You may also be familiar with many of them since you most likely played them as a child. Don’t let their simplicity fool you. These activities are giving “fuel” to the brain and strengthening the propellant to boost your child’s learning ability forward.
You should be familiar with this game, but if you are not, here are some quick tips to get started. Write down a few ideas and throw them into a bowl. You can use animals, celebrities, movies, books or other ideas a person can act out.
Select a person to draw an idea out of the bowl. That person stands in front of the group and acts out whatever is on that piece of paper. The group tries to guess what the person is acting out. For instance, the child can walk on their tip toes with both hands high above their head together and walk around like a giraffe. Another example, is for the child to leave their shoe behind and play Cinderella.
This activity can help build a child’s cognition skills, body awareness, gross motor, visual perception and discrimination, as well as processing skills. The activity can be timed so the child has to process the information quickly, act it out and help his teammates guess what he is before he runs out of time.
This activity is like musical chairs, except colored dots can be used to achieve the same goal. Tape large colored dots on the floor for all the children or family members minus one.
Play music and have the children move around the dots in a circle. Have a parent play a song and stop it somewhere in the middle, beginning or end of the song. When the music stops, each child should run and step on a dot. The person left not standing on a dot is out. Take away one dot and keep going until only one person is left.
This activity helps children with listening skills, gross motor, following directions, practicing directionality, auditory perception and processing.
I’m Thinking Game
This game is a thinking game. The child can either close their eyes while we play the game or keep them open. Think of an object and begin to describe it to your child. While describing the object, ask your child to visualize and picture it in their head to see if they can guess what it is. For example, I’m thinking of something that is big and red (start out simple and broad). Continue to add more details, such as “it usually has four wheels, but it can have more. It is rectangular in shape and carries a ladder and hose. It has a siren. What is it?” They should guess a fire truck.
We use this game to see if your child can listen, comprehend, retain information, picture the object and recall what the item is you are describing. It can also strengthen your child’s auditory processing and visualization skills.
On a cookie sheet, large tray or plate, add 10 or more household items, toys or gadgets to the tray. Cover it first with a towel and when the child is ready, ask the child to look at all the items on the tray for about 10 to 15 seconds depending on how many items you have on the tray.
Cover the tray with the towel or remove it from the child and see how many items your child can remember. If you are playing with more than one child, ask them to write down the items to see who remembers the most.
This activity helps your child improve their visual perception and visual memory.
Going to the Beach
This is an add on activity. One child or family member begins by saying, “I’m going to the beach and I’m taking…” The child may say “sunglasses.” The next person must then say the phrase, add the sunglasses and then add on a new item such as “a beach towel.” The next person continues to add sunglasses, beach towel and another item to the list. By the end of the game, it should go something like, “I’m going to the beach and I’m taking sunglasses, a beach towel, a beach ball, sunscreen and a bucket.”
Each child must say all the items in the same sequence as the previous child or family member said and add something new. You can continue going around in a circle until someone begins to forget the order of the items.
This activity is important for visualization, auditory memory, sequencing, comprehension and fact retention.
If you are not familiar with hangman, here are a few of the rules. You will need a piece of paper, white board or chalkboard. The parent chooses a word, but does not reveal it to the child. Draw dashes, one for each letter of the word on the piece of paper. You can draw the gallows next to the dashes you’ve drawn. If the child guesses a wrong letter, you begin drawing the head, body, face and any other details you would like on your hangman. If they guess the letters correctly, you add the letter to one of the dashes until they guess the right answer.
If you have a younger child or if you prefer not to play traditional hangman, you can adapt it with animals. Begin with easy words like “sun.” If the child gets the letters incorrectly you can draw the animal, for example a cat. Add the face, ears, whiskers, paws, etc. The idea is to guess the add all the letters and guess the word before the cat’s is complete. For older kids, add bigger and harder words. You can even do sight words or phrases (for example, the title of a song like The Circle of Life). It’s a good idea to also incorporate rhymes or poems like Hickory Dickory Dock.
This activity strengthens a child’s knowledge of letter and word recognition, visual and sound discrimination, fine motor (drawing) and body awareness.
Name that Tune
For this activity, hum or sing “la, la, la” to a song your child is familiar with and see if they can name that song. For example, you can start with the song “Happy Birthday,” but instead of singing the words, you sing “la, la, la, la, la, la” and so forth until your child guesses the tune. We also encourage using nursery rhymes because many Nursery Rhymes are sung.
This activity can improve your child’s listening skills, auditory perception and auditory processing.
Red Light Green Light
This game is best played outdoors, but if you are limited on space, a long hallway works. The parent stands at one end of the hall while the child stands at the opposite end. The parent turns his or her back to the child and says, “Red Light!” When it’s a “red light,” the child will run toward the parent as fast as they can, but they must stop and freeze when the parent turns around and says “Green Light!” If the parent sees the child or children move, they are automatically out and the game begins again.
If the child does not move, the parent turns around again and resumes the game calling red light and green light until the child makes it to the parent. If the child makes it to the parent without being called out, the child wins and they get to call out red light green light when the game begins again.
This game is good for gross motor skills, body awareness, balance and reaction time.
Listen, Draw it
For this activity, your child needs a blank piece of paper. If you have more than one child participating, have the kids sit on chairs with their backs facing each other or have them sit on opposite sides of the room so they can’t see the paper of the other child.
Ask the child to draw something, but only give them one instruction at a time. You can provide instructions for shapes, animals, a piece of scenery, or a place they like to go. For younger children, make it easier. If you want them to draw a mouse, ask them to draw a head, nose, eyes, whiskers, tail, piece of cheese, etc.
For older kids, you want to be even more detailed. For example, draw a vertical 2-inch straight line beginning at the middle of the page. Now put a dot at the bottom of the line. From the dot, draw a 2-inch horizontal line to the right of the dot. Now draw another dot at the end of that line. From that dot, draw a 2-inch straight line going toward the top of the page and put a dot at the end of that line. From that dot, draw another 2-inch straight line to the left of the dot.
What have you drawn? A square.
This activity improves listening skills, auditory processing, measurements and directionality. It can also help with letter formation, creativity, visualization, comprehension and problem solving.
Creating a Story
Have your child begin creating their own verbal story (they can make up anything they would like). When they get to the middle of their story or a climactic moment in the story, have the next person add on to their story. Repeat the exercise and keep going until everyone has had a chance to tell part of the story.
For example, “Jenny is so excited today because she is going to the zoo with her family and her best friend Katelyn. It felt like forever to get there, but finally they arrived. But, when they got there, they found the zoo was closed.” Stop here and have the next person continue with the story of what the children did and how they spent the rest of their day since the zoo was closed.
This activity promotes creativity, imagination, sequencing, visualization, fact retention, expressive language and comprehension.
Integrated Movement Activity Center
The Integrated Movement Activity Center provides parents and therapists with step-by-step videos to strengthen all areas of the body and the brain. Parents and professionals can use the activity center to help their kids and students “awaken” the brain for higher learning development.
For more information or to enroll, click here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs