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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar® on Tour

August 24th, 2016

We asked different agencies who work with youth (both in school and after-school) to take Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar, test it out and tell us what they think.  Today’s review comes from a teacher at Cameron, a Lead Public School.

 

Brain Boosters has been a lifesaver for me this semester. My school leadership council has been having a hard time connecting with one another as well as being motivated to participate in the group. I use Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar® with them everyday now and they LOVE it! I use it at the start of our meetings to get their thinking and enthusiasm going and sometimes at the end as a fun way to close our meetings.

 

I have also recommended it to other teachers at my school because it is so quick and easy to grab and go! We have an advisory period each week and Brain Boosters has been an awesome way to connect and have fun with our advisory groups. I love that there are over 100 activities, it is fast and easy, and most of all TONS of fun! It is so much better than having to look up different games and icebreakers online and sifting through all of them to find what I want. ALL of the activities included in the jar are age-appropriate, easy to understand, and take just a few minutes to do. They are all different, unique, and don’t take any planning. I have even used these activities at Professional Development with my co-workers. I highly recommend Brain Boosters to any one working with groups both teens and adults!

– Ashley Parker, Cameron, A Lead Public School

See a sample of Brain Boosters in action below (the leadership council assisted in the making of the video):

 

jar2

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.

 

 

Get it On: The Dance Challenge

May 8th, 2016

In our dance series of moves we’ve learned from teens, we’ve highlighted several dance moves. Did you take the time to demonstrate the moves you know and that your youth know?

Not only is dancing (movement) good as a brain booster, it’s also good as an inter-generational activity and a cultural activity where we exchange things we know and love about music AND share stories.

One last clip . . . just because – watch and see who knows what, who does what and what other epic moves it brings to mind.  Let the fun begin!  Enjoy!

 

Boost Your Brain: The Final 3 Dance Moves

May 2nd, 2016

On our journey to learn new dance steps from youth, we leave you with these three.  Are they still the latest?

Ask your teens to teach you the newest moves.  Ask the to share dance stories – the flopped moves, the great moves, maybe even the embarrassing moves.  It’s fun what you’ll learn as you move, laugh and dance together . . . which brings us back to the point of this series: boost the brain, boost the relationships.

 

for this next one, it takes about 30 seconds in to get to it.  :-)

Boost Your Brain: The Dancing Goes On

April 25th, 2016

Movement is an important brain booster.  And dancing is a great way to bring in oxygen, get the blood and heart pumping, reduce stress, build friendships and have a good time.

For this week’s dance moves, these three steps are easy (supposedly) beginner moves that anyone can do – even those of us with two left feet!  Poll your teens – do these moves still make the cool list? Or do they help them get away with “looking” cool?

 

Boost Your Brain: Dance Moves 5-6

April 18th, 2016

Movement is an important brain booster.  And dancing is a great way to bring in oxygen, get the blood and heart pumping, reduce stress, build friendships and have a good time.

For this week’s dance moves, in our little series, we bring you two related to equipment. Can you combine them into one dance seamlessly?

Boost Your Brain: Dance Move #4

April 11th, 2016

For this week’s dance move that we learned from youth we know, we bring you the Running Man.

Ask your teens? Is this still hot? Or has it gone cold?  What IS the latest, greatest move?

 

Boost Your Brain: Dance #2

March 28th, 2016

Movement is an important brain booster.  And dancing is a great way to bring in oxygen, get the blood and heart pumping, reduce stress, build friendships and have a good time.

As Ann and I led a series for workshops, we tested various dance games.  We quickly learned that not all dance moves are universal . . . or equal.   As always, we love learning from youth . . .

Here’s this week’s moves that we learned.  Ask your teens: are these moves in? Or are they now “so last year”?

 

 

Boost Your Brain With Dance

March 21st, 2016

Movement is an important brain booster.  It brings in oxygen, gets the blood and heart pumping, reduces stress and quite simply, it can be . . . just good ole’ wholesome fun.

When Ann and I lead workshops for camp, we often try out new games.  And our latest round of new games included dance moves.  In one game, instead of us telling them the moves to do for the game, we asked them for the dance moves.  And that’s where our education began . . . In the next few weeks, we’ll share the moves we learned and that made us “cool” with future teens and young adults.

It’s all in the moves. My personal favorite I learned while teaching Y-CAP summer camp staff (Vanderbilt football players primarily).  The guys taught me how to do the Whip.  Which came in quite handy a few months later when I was leading a training in New York and got the group’s attention by – yep, you guessed it – doing the Whip.

Cool dance move #1.  Enjoy!

Tiny Teach: Recipe #4

November 23rd, 2015

Our game Tiny Teach from Great Group Games has worked so well for us that we created a different version for younger children. It’s called Little Professors, Little Einsteins (Great Group Games for Kids).  It follows the same principle of sharing and teaching but adds prompts to help younger youth think more concretely about what they know how to do from given categories such as games, sports, or . . . the kitchen.

And speaking of kitchens, here is this week’s recipe shared by a participant who played Tiny Teach with us in one of our workshops.  A quick recipe you can use to bring to the Thanksgiving potluck!

2 Minute Fudge

Mix Reese’s pieces with vanilla icing. Nuke for 1 minute.  Stir. Nuke every 10 seconds until completely melted. Spread in pan and put in fridge to set.

 

Summer Days 11

October 13th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

I read the other day in an article on play that dogs play their whole lives and never forget play in their routine. It’s simply part of who they are and what they do. My personal experience proves this to be true especially with my Summer Girl, my border collie/lab, who came into my husband’s and my life as one of our two canine kids.

In Summer Days 3, as we talked about delighting in the now, we mentioned that Summer often created her own form of “play”:  stalking the edge of the forest to look for stray crickets to chase as we walked, or hunting for bunnies and nosing frogs in water holes. In addition to these acts, Summer has been known to play with her food (bringing it from the bowl into the living room, dropping food on the carpet to get one kernel at a time). She has been known to dive into her bed and attack it; play with chew toys or rawhides (of course!); or play with Lacey and us. We have chased each other in circles around the house. But our favorite game involved guard duty.  We could literally look outside, WHISPER the signal “Lacey, Summer – squirrel” or sometimes simply “squirrel” and the two dogs would tear off to go outside and chase the offending squirrel or squirrels out of the backyard (usually across the top of the fence around the yard to a particular tree).

Did you notice I said, whisper?  How in-tuned to the idea of play is that? A mere whisper could bring it out of her!

Obvious to anyone who owns or owned a dog is his or her inborn ability to play and thus we have:

Lesson #11: Play. Always Play.  IMG_3973

We had to name it, even if it’s an obvious lesson because it’s still a valuable lesson. There are high connections between play and gratitude. When we play, we are less stressed, more present, more alive and more in the moment. Those playful moments bring about gratitude as a natural response. And yet we often neglect to play as we get older in order to work. (And if you want ideas on how to play, check out our books, Great Group Games, Great Group Games for Kids and Great Group Games on the Go.)

IMG_2245How do you like to play? How do you define it? What does it look like for you? Reading a book? Watching a movie? Playing board games or cards? Being silly with a friend? Taking a moment to run backwards in your workout? Having the windows down and the wind whipping your face? Today as you go about your normal routine, don’t forget to take a moment to play – whatever that looks like for you. You know what play is. It makes you smile, lightens your heart and makes you feel free and young. Put it on your list of “must do” today: go play.

You can read all the gratitude lessons we’ve learned from our four-legged Gratitude Guru and learn for yourself how to: show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when doing what you love; delight in the now; always show appreciation to others; work and contribute; presume friendship; just be; sleep and eat regularly; offer presence; be patient; and play.

What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind

July 15th, 2014

Greetings from Barbara at The Corner on Character. During my thirty years spent teaching and counseling (all grades preK through 12th) in public education, I have been encouraged time and time again by colleagues and friends to write a book. Since I’d been sharing my ideas for character integration online since 2000, my pat answer was always that I’d posted enough content for a book online, for free. But still, character educators seemed enthusiastic about and eager for a book. Then, one day in early October 2103, I got an email from a cyberspace collaborator in Florida with the word PROMISE in the subject line. Here’s what it said:

Can you promise me one day when you consolidate all of your amazing posts into your future best-selling book that I can get a signed copy? Your posts belong on a bookshelf as well as your blog, especially in libraries everywhere. Dream big, God has incredible plans for you. Love you sweet friend, Tamara

I received the gift of encouragement, from Tamara, that day and shortly afterward, I met Marian from Nelson Publishing and Marketing at the Character Education Partnership National Forum on Character Education where she saw me speak. Before I knew it, I was sending a signed book contract off to Michigan.

contract

Using this guiding question as a focus – What do workshop participants typically leave my sessions having enjoyed and wanting more of? –  the answer, character-infusion stories and strategies, became the basis for What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. It’s a quick guide to character development, aimed at educators and caregivers who have a hand in helping our future leaders crusade for good. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES to layout the eleven chapters, I’ve infused inspirational interactions with innovative ideas to help develop eleven of the virtues that we can nurture in our caped crusaders as we empower them to soar.

WUYCcover

Here now, an excerpt from Chapter 3 – P is for Perseverance:

So, how do we get our superheroes to stay the course? They have to have permission to fail. They need to know that not only is failure okay but that, according to author Paul Tough, it might be the key to success. In his research, Tough found that grit, resilience, and perseverance were key ingredients in the success stories of their test subjects.10 Kids who don’t give up when they encounter obstacles in their way, who don’t quit when they hit a pothole in the road, and who don’t abandon ship when the winds shift and steering their vessel seems all but impossible are the kids who find the greatest success through their school years and beyond. As we coach these learners, we must encourage them to take risks and to be okay with messing up. They need to know that mistakes are opportunities for reflection, improvement, and growth. We must help them strive to do THEIR best, not be THE best. We have to change the mindset that the silver medal is somehow losing. Silver isn’t losing. It’s coming in second. That’s all. When did silver get so tarnished? Is it possible that we’re raising kids to quit when they think they can’t attain the coveted gold at the end of the rainbow?

When my daughter started in the marching band, she had high hopes for them at the State Marching Contest. They were marching a clean and elegant show with strong music, and they ended up fourth in the State of Texas out of 250 bands their size. Two years and lots of growth and improvement later, their band came out of the preliminary competition number one. But there were still finals with new judges and a clean slate. The students marched their hearts out, and they came in second. They were devastated. Crushed to have gotten so close to gold and yet so far. Second place out of so many bands is good, no doubt, but they set their standards high. They worked hard, and there was a lot of disappointment.

But here’s what superheroes know: winning is a state of mind. There were thousands of students who didn’t even get a trip to the state competition because they didn’t advance out of their district or their area, so just getting to state made them winners. The way that the 271 members, musicians and guard members, together created magic with their music made them winners. Leaving it all on the field, heart and soul, made them winners. It shouldn’t matter, if they worked hard, persevered, and gave it their best, and earned second or fifth or tenth.

 *******

Thank you for your interest in my new release; author-signed copies of the book are available for purchase at The Corner On Character.  For superhero activity ideas, visit my Pinterest page and to come along on our What’s Under Your Cape? book study that starts July 12, check out the book’s Facebook page

See schedule below and check out the first chapter review at http://curlsandasmile.blogspot.com/2014/07/whats-under-your-cape-book-study-and.html

 

 

Candy Bar Taste Test

January 20th, 2014

Here’s a fun icebreaker that I learned from my friend Elizabeth. It would be great to do with your colleagues or your students:

It’s a candy bar test. You take 10 paper plates and number them 1-10. Then you use a fork to squish a different miniature candy bar on each plate. Give each person a piece of paper & a pen. After they # their papers 1-10, they either pass the plates around or walk beside each plate. Without knowing the candy bar options, they quietly try to guess which candy bar is on each plate. They can’t taste the candy mush, but they can look and smell. Reveal the answers and see who gets them all correct. It’s very fun!!

Sneak Peek into the "Great Group Games

September 1st, 2013

Get a free sneak peek into our “Great Group Games” book. This is a really cool website that lets you preview books. Click here to see 21 pages of our book.

Back to School – Games Style #3

August 16th, 2013

Here’s another excerpt from our book, Great Group Games: 175 Boredom Busting Zero Prep Team Builders for all Ages.

Hidden Hands

Time: 15 – 25 minutes

Supplies: one comic strip panel (make a copy of the strip for each group of 3-4 participants), one envelope for each group

Description:

This activity is good to give participants practice in communicating with other team members and in making group decisions. You will need a comic strip (duplicated so each work group has a copy), and one envelope for each subgroup. To prepare, photocopy enough copies of the comic strip to provide one for each work group. Cut each strip into separate panels and place the panels in an envelope.

Instruct the participants to form work groups of three to four members each. Distribute one envelope containing a set of comic strip panels to each team.

Direct the members of each team to open the envelope, place the panels of the comic strip face down without examining them, and shuffle them around the table. While the panels are on the table face down, hidden from view, members of each team take turns drawing a panel (without showing it to others), going around until all panels have been chosen. Team members are allowed to describe their own panels as fully as possible, but they are not allowed to look at the panels of the other participants or to show their panels to others.
When the team members have agreed on which panel is first in the cartoon (based on the participants’ descriptions of the panels), they place it face down on the table. After they have placed all the panels face down in the order they have determined, they then turn them over to see if they have sequenced the comic in the proper order.

Going Deeper:

§ What communication process was used to describe the panels?
§ What are the strengths and challenges of your communication style?
§ How did the team decide what panels went where?
§ Did you readily share your opinions, were you hesitant to share, or were you perhaps a bit too wordy in your sharing?
§ How might this activity challenge your group to more effectively work together in the future?

Assets: social competencies, commitment to learning, boundaries and expectations