The Brain

The human brain is arguably the most complex, sophisticated creation on Earth.  In class, we are learning about our brains, and also learning how to “manage” them. When we know more about our brains, we can learn better, manage ourselves better, and be calm and controlled in any situation!  (well, that is the goal…)

First, what does our brain look like, and how does it work?

This first video is best for primary aged children:  (warning: the beginning and end are a bit silly!)

This video is made for intermediate aged children:

Warning:  This next video contains graphic images of a real human brain taken from an autopsy.  The purpose of this video is to show how fragile the human brain is.  We have had many conversations about how important it is to protect your head and brain with a helmet.  This video shows why.

Click here to link to this video

Our brains filter out information.  We take in an enormous amount of sensory information through our eyes, ears, nose mouth and skin, but our brains choose what to pay attention to.  This next video shows an example of this:

So…now we know what a brain looks like, and a little bit about how it works.  We have learned that the brain controls your body, but what many people don’t know is that your body can also control your brain.  This next series of videos shows different techniques that we can use to calm ourselves and use our brains to their best capacity.

This video explains Daniel Siegel’s hand model of the brain.  (for adults and older children)

Explaining the Brain to Children and Adolescents from GU Center for Child & Human Dev on Vimeo.


This video takes the ideas of Dr. Siegel and makes it easy for kids to understand.

In class, we have practiced deep breathing, and also talked about other ways to calm your animal brain.  Some ways we talked about are:  colouring, going for a walk, knitting, playing an instrument, and many others.  Remember, before we can think or talk about an upsetting situation, we need to be using our upstairs brain.

This last video shows beautifully how deep breathing calms us.

Body in the Group, Brain in the Group

When we work or play in a group, it is important to remember that our body and our brain need to stay in the group.

What exactly does that mean?  Let’s listen to Tom Chapin..

When working or playing with a group of people, it is important to stay close to them so that they know you are with them.

Keeping your brain in the group means that you are thinking about the other people in the group.

Whole Body Listening at Home and at School

Perhaps Cookie Monster explains Whole Body Listening like nobody else can!

What is Whole Body Listening?  Simply, it is using every part of your body to ensure you are listening the best you can.

In short, this means:

1. your eyes are looking at the speaker

2. your mouth is closed and quiet

3. your body is facing the speaker

4. your hands are quietly in your lap or at your sides

5. your feet are standing still or quietly on the floor

6. your brain is thinking about what the speaker is saying

7. your heart is caring about what the speaker is saying




How Big is Your Problem?

Sometimes, we all overreact to small problems, or we ignore a problem that should be dealt with.  In order that we learn to react in an expected way to a problem, it is important to learn to gauge the size of a problem. When we can figure out how big our problem is,  we can figure out the best way to solve it.

Here is an example of a boy who acted in an unexpected way to his problem:

We all know that phoning 911 is not an expected response when you don’t like your bedtime!

How about this problem?  Are the people reacting in an expected way?



How can you know the expected way to react to a problem?  Let’s start by looking at problems, from the littlest ones to the biggest ones.

The smallest type of problem is called a glitch.  A glitch can be ignored.

This cat is a champion at ignoring this pig!


Next you have a small problem.  You can solve a small problem yourself, or ask friend to help you.


Watch how this brother helps his little sister.


Then, there is a medium sized problem.  You will need help from an adult to solve this problem, often from a parent or teacher.


When you have a big problem, you need to get outside help from a professional. Its important to not ignore a big problem, or to think that you can solve it yourself, because it will only get bigger.

A dentist is a professional who can help you with your big problem.

An emergency is the biggest type of problem.  When you have an emergency, you need to call 911.

This 3 year old girl, Emma, called 911 and saved her mother


Thinking With Your Eyes

If we want to get the whole message, it is important to use our eyes and look at the person who is talking to us.  In the classroom, this is often the teacher, but it might be another student or another adult.

Watch this video.  All of the communication happens without a word being spoken.  What do we understand about this little boy from his body language and gestures? (and what is the dad communicating to the mom at the end?)

If you were looking somewhere else, would you have noticed all that is happening here?

In this commercial, the dad and the mom are communicating without using any words.  (the words are also typed as subtitles on the bottom of the page)

The girls are able to tell exactly what the mom and dad are communicating to one another because they are watching what is going on!


Expected and Unexpected Behaviour

What is expected behaviour?  In short, it is the set of behaviours that are expected in a given situation.  When at a hockey game, it is expected that the audience cheers and yells and screams.  When walking down the hallway at school, it would be unexpected for the students to cheer and yell and scream!

It can be tricky to figure out what the expected behaviour is for a particular situation.  Should I take my shoes off at the door or leave them on?  Do I need to ask to go to the bathroom, or can I quietly slip out?

I have talked to the students about 2 strategies that can help you figure out what the expected behaviour is:  1.  observe other people who seem to know what they are doing  2. ask someone who is in charge.

The opposite of expected behaviour is unexpected behaviour.  It is usually easy to tell if behaviour is unexpected, because it  makes people feel uncomfortable.  Let’s take our example above:  how would you feel if the students were cheering and yelling and screaming as they walked down the hallway at school?

Unexpected behaviour is often the basis for comedy.  Below is a collection of video clips that include some comedy sketches.  These clips were selected because they show unexpected behaviour!

I wonder if you can pick out the unexpected things that Mr. Bean does?


Some Thoughts on Kindness

What would happen if everyone took 10 seconds to give a compliment?  Or 5 minutes to help someone?

For the next week, we will be looking at kindness, and thinking about what it means to be kind.

We are also going to flex our kindness muscles and see how many kind things we can do as a school.

Please look at our kindness tally in the front foyer.




Come and try our Compliment Booth!

Inspired by a Soulpancake video, Ms Deluca’s class made a Compliment Booth.  It will be in the foyer until December 9.  Please stop by and give someone you know a compliment.


Here is the video that inspired our compliment booth!


Have you ever thought that giving someone a compliment could change their life? Please enjoy this award winning film called “Validation”