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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.

 

 

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?

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.

 

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 Move #3

April 4th, 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. (One I can do!)

Ask your teens: are these moves in? Or are they now “so last year”?

 

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!

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.

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

Educational Technology Spotlight: Charitii Crossword Game

October 15th, 2012

Play a crossword-like multiple choice word game at http://www.charitii.com/ and donate money to charity for each question you answer correctly.  You get to choose the charity for your donations – see the list here.

**This builds the Commitment to Learning Assets**

Educational Technology Spotlight: Kids Off the Couch

October 1st, 2012

This whimsical website connects media (movies/books) with super cool educational adventures.  For example, they watch Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, then go visit a chocolate store to sample/judge chocolate flavors.  After watching Bug’s Life, they went to visit an insect zoo.  After watching Field of Dreams, attend a baseball game.  Read/watch Chronicles of Narnia, then plant a tree together.  Prepare to be wowed by their ideas that you could implement as field trips, or simple give families ideas to further explore what you are learning in your classroom/center.

They have paired together some very fun activities with classic and new films and books.  My media savvy husband is going to love these ideas!

Wouldn’t this be a super cool way to celebrate a great week of learning?  Fantastical Fridays could be afternoons of learning and adventure all over town.  How fun!