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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar® on Tour for a Second Stop in Arkansas

November 9th, 2016

As Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar has made its first tour across the country engaging youth in both classroom and after-school settings, creators Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor couldn’t be more pleased with the response and look forward to seeing Brain Boosters in even more places where the activities can interact with youth groups and bring energy and fun brain development!

Here’s a review from a “tour” stop in Little Rock, Arkansas with Our House:

“The youth and adults, who facilitated the activity, preferred the 20 second challenges because they were quick and simple. In addition, the youth enjoyed the Show Me Your Moves cards because they were able to improvise and “think on their feet.”
“The instructions were simple, therefore it took very little time to explain the instructions to the youth. Please note that we tested this on youth K – 8th grade.

“The youth said the following:

  • It was fun!
  • It got us moving!
  • We had to think fast!
  • It required us to work as a team!
  • We had to use our brain
  • We were able to get some energy out

“Most of the students liked acting out the various scenarios but some youth felt extremely uncomfortable because they do not like being the center of attention. (editor’s note:  the activities do include the right to “pass”).  Our group did not like the activities that required additional time (5 – 10 minutes). We passed over all of the cards that required an extensive amount of time.

“We would recommend this to other programs – It is an easy way to get the kids moving, thinking, and working together.”

- Desirae Holmes, Our House

Jar_3d

  Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

  Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: on Tour in Arkansas

October 26th, 2016

In its trek across the country, Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor made its way to Arkansas over the summer to engage youth and build the brain through fun, interactive ways.  Here’s what the staff from Life Skills for Youth had to say:

Our youth liked the 20-second Challenges, Show Me Your Moves and Make a Melody games the best.  Some of the favorite activities were  the music challenges and showing off their moves – making up skits.  They liked making a song to the star spangled banner.  I would say what they most liked about the activities overall was the chance they had to express themselves in front of classmates.  The activities were amusing for their peers. 

The only critique was that some students thought some of the music items could have been a bit more relatable for their age group (over 15).

What I enjoyed most, as a facilitator, was  was the engagement and humor for those who participated.  I would recommend these activities to other programs.  The activities created involvement between students and teacher.  It allowed children to work together and support their classmates.

- Gary Casey, Life Skills for Youth

Jar_3d

Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: A Teacher’s Review

October 19th, 2016

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar is definitely a very worthwhile, unique find.   I have used it in my classroom in many different ways since it serves multiple purposes.  My students, primarily 5th graders, have absolutely loved the crazy challenges found on the cards.

 

This game comes with 101 small cards in a plastic jar and a die.  There are four categories: Make a Melody, Show Me Your Moves, 20-Second Challenge, and Wild Cards.  The 20- second challenges are my favorite.  These cards are great for when students need a quick break from long stretches of learning, yet I do not want to lose valuable instructional time.  Many of these cards include debates, like arguing whether texting or face-to-face conversation is more important.  Others include telling a story about a time the teller was brave, or acting out a scene from a movie.  With these cards, I usually give one to each of my six groups, and each person in the group gets to go around and do it.  Because each student only has 20 seconds, the groups get done at the same time, making it easy to resume the lesson.

 

The Make a Melody cards were my students’ favorite.  They elicited hilarious responses, such as singing a song using a cat or a dog voice (woof-woof or meow-meow), and seeing if the group could tell what it was.  The only problem with these is that when multiple groups are doing this category at once, the room gets pretty noisy! I ended up using these with the whole group, and would have one representative from each group perform them, and then they would rotate. This solution worked well.

 

Most of the Show Me Your Move cards require movement in the classroom, so they are great when I had to have indoor activity time.  Some of them include making up dance moves, completing stretches, and doing short relay races.

 

Wild Cards can be any mixture of the following, but most of them include writing and discussing.  My favorite ones are those that have students share information about themselves with each other, like their favorite hobbies.  The card also tells them to roll the die to determine how many things they share about that hobby with the group.  These really help students get along better in my classroom as they make stronger connections with each other.

 

I highly recommend choosing the cards that students receive. The one factor that I am always concerned about is time. It was very important for me to pre-select the cards, as some of them can be more time-consuming than others.  I also factor in noise level of the cards occasionally, depending on how I use the cards that day.  Selecting them matters as well because some of them need materials, like tape, balls, and various other objects.

 

Students do always have the choice to pass if they feel too uncomfortable doing the activities.  On the first day we tried the cards, I had a handful of students who did not want to participate.  However, once they realized how much fun the other students were having who did participate, everyone engaged with them from then on.

 

Ways that I utilize them in my classroom:

  •  Short brain breaks for students during long periods of work time (like essay writing)
  • Icebreakers/getting to know you activities when students are placed in new groups
  • During indoor activity time
  • As tie-breakers following review games (especially the 20-second challenges)
  • At the beginning of the year as students simply get used to group rotations
  • As bellwork when the card coincides with the lesson (debate cards, for example)

 

There are many other ways that the cards can be used, I am sure! I am very pleased with them, and I definitely plan on using them in my classroom again this year.  Overall, this is a great product, and it certainly deserves two-thumbs up!

- Bethany Riggs Weeks, Fifth Grade Language Arts & Volleyball Coach

Sycamore Middle School

 Jar_3d

 

Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

Add Some Challenge Into Your Group’s Day

June 17th, 2016

Our newest product, Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar® with Free Spirit, has four categories of brain influencers: music, movement, challenge (20 seconds to be exact) and the wild card category. (The wild card category lets us slip in several brain boosters such as conversations, humor, and novelty). What we love about this is that groups can have fun, play together, de-stress and do something good for their own personal well-being all at the same time.

This game is classified as a “challenge” brain booster. It is pretty easy to see why!

The game: Have everyone stand and grab 2 objects. Raise one knee and balance the objects on top of each other on your knee. See who can go the longest without lowering their knee or dropping the objects.

balance on knee

Sounds simple enough, right? Try it! These teenagers did – and 20 seconds is a lot harder than it looks.  Watch:

jar2

Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

Excerpted from Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar® by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, copyright © 2016. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar® – Sneak Peak

April 13th, 2016

The power of playing games in groups has unlimited potential. The research shows that we can relieve stress, help the group bond and learn. But did you know that play can also help boost brain power? When games are intentionally crafted with an eye towards the research on brain development, you can create another form of “Play with Purpose.” (our mission in life!)

Build the group. Build the brain. What a great way to impact youth! In Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®, we offer 101 different ways to engage youth groups.   Engaging activities include games that tap into music, movement, challenge and more (all brain boosters).

Here’s one example that helps boost our sense of novelty. Try it with your group and see what they come up with.

Inventions*

Divide into even-numbered teams. Give each team 8 minutes to draw a useful invention. The catch? The invention must utilize a broom, a mouse pad, a drinking glass, and a basket. Present the inventions to the group. Decide which ones people would use.

libray inventions

Photo: Co-author Susan Ragsdale (middle crouching) leads some of the Nashville Public Library staff through Brain Booster activities as part of a training.

Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.  Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

*Excerpted from Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar® by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, copyright © 2016, forthcoming. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

 

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®

April 12th, 2016

Did you know that you can boost brain power through play? Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar® includes activities that engage the brain through music, movement, challenge, conversation, novelty and more. Some of the games are very individual in nature – draw a card and perform for the group. Some are more group oriented – inviting the whole group to play. Some games include props that should be on hand: pencils, paper, or tape.

Players always have the opt-out option to keep the environment safe so if someone pulls a game card and doesn’t want to lead it, he can put it back and pull another card out. (This option may help with cultural gaps of understanding as well as any language issues.). Have fun boosting brainpower!

 

Game Creations*

Divide into even-numbered teams. Give each team 8 minutes to create a new game. The catch? The game must utilize a mirror, a suitcase, a ball, and a shovel. Present the game to the group. Have each team share how to play the game.

game invention

Anthony proudly displays the game he and Emily Sue created.

Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or  Amazon.  Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

*Excerpted from Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar® by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, copyright © 2016, forthcoming. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

Appreciation Challenge

March 17th, 2016

There have been a few times when I have created presents for other people that are simply lists or little booklets about the best of who they are.  Something along the lines of the “12 gifts of you.” The gift includes simple things that I note about the person that I appreciate about them and am thankful for. Sometimes they are things that I see that I’m not sure that they see about themselves.

It’s a simple gift but a thoughtful one.

This past week I got to be on the receiving end of such a gift. My sister decided to do five days of appreciation of me for my birthday.  Every day she sent me five things that she appreciated about me and she actually did this for five days. It was such an awesome gift of perspective and surprise.

I’ve always enjoyed being on the giving side of such a gift, but to be on the receiving end gave me a whole new perspective. Wow!

To jot down a few things you like about someone is such an easy way to express appreciation and to encourage them.  And, it ends up being a gift for both the giver and the receiver.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done.  I emailed my writing partner this morning.  The subject heading was “Appreciation Day.”  In the body, I said “I love that you . . . ” and then listed 4 or 5 (the number doesn’t matter) things that I love about her.

The things you appreciate don’t have to be huge. They can be quite simple.  For example, for Ann, one line was about how much she relishes chocolate and coffee with a big grin.  It makes her happy.  I also noted how she is so good at re-framing negatives into positives – a trait I admire.

Who could you take five minutes to send an appreciation note to?  Could you make it a weekly practice to send one note?  Or monthly?  Try it out. See what happens.  Making someone’s day doesn’t have to take money, a lot of time or energy.  It can be as easy as saying “I love you” or “I love the way you . . .”