Teaching Kids About Neuroscience and How We Learn

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Neuroscience for kids? Yes!
I decided to begin an interesting journey with my music students. I am lucky to have a 25-keyboard piano lab in my music classroom. The kids love playing songs on the keyboards but hate the initial practice and work it takes to learn a song. Many students wanted to give up when they were presented with a song that they found challenging. I always told them to keep trying and that it takes a while to really learn something and be good at it.

My classroom piano lab

My classroom piano lab

Even though this approach worked with many of my kids, I needed something to show the non-believers that they can get better with practice.

Enter the brain.

I am currently a Master of Science candidate at Nova Southeastern University where I am studying Brain-Based Teaching and Learning. I’ve learned so much about the brain and how we learn and I desperately wanted to bring this back to my kiddies. The challenge was to find a way to present such complex information to 4th and 5th graders.

“Popping Dendrites, Bro!”
I decided to teach my students about neurons and how when we make connections with what we are learning to something we already know, some of our neurons actually connect. I showed my students some slides on my SmartBoard about why it is so important to make these connections. We also spoke about dendrites and how when we learn something new, our neurons will actually grow more dendrites.

My 5th grade students were so interested in this. One of them exclaimed “I’m learning about how I learn and growing more dendrites!”

I stress to my students that learning takes time. We need to give our neurons time to make connections and grow dendrites. This seemed to really make sense to the kids.

I then asked my students to write about what they just learned and then think of something that reminds them about what they learned. The responses were amazing! I couldn’t believe all of the wonderfully complex connections my students were able to come up with! As one student put it, “We’re popping dendrites, Bro!”

Neurons worksheet I made for students
Neurons worksheet I made for students

Neurons worksheet I made for students

I can’t wait to teach my kids more about the brain. I’m interested to see if having them learn about learning will help them in the piano lab as well as in their regular classroom. A teacher can dream! 🙂

You can check out this lesson I created about the brain as well as others in my Growth Mindset Brain Unit:

Growth Mindset Brain Unit Lesson Plans

Do you have any experiences teaching your kiddies about the brain? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

8 thoughts on “Teaching Kids About Neuroscience and How We Learn

  1. Blanca Bishop says:

    This is way cool! I love reading about music and neuroscience. I stumbled across your Facebook page which pointed me to your blog.

  2. Christy Gibson says:

    I am SO excited to find your blog (thanks for pointing me over here from FB ;-)) I’m especially interested in learning more from your blog how you are helping your kiddies make connections about how they learn (dendrites, whole brain, etc). Please keep blogging on this topic. Yay for you pursuing a Masters in this field!! I only know a small amount on Brain Based Learning (crossing the midline, interactive/movement connections, etc) but it’s hard to unearth that info sometimes and how to incorporate it into my K-5 music classes. Thanks for sharing what you’ve tried and what works/doesn’t work!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you found me too. There is so much I want to share about brain-based teaching. I will definitely keep posting. There isn’t much out there about brain-based teaching directly related to the music classroom. There’s a lot about how music helps the brain, but not a lot that translates to teaching music directly. It’s something I’m working on myself and I’ll continue to write about what I find to work in my class. 🙂

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