Slide from my Brain Mini-Unit Lesson Plans

Teaching Kids About Neuroscience and How We Learn

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!

A Little About Me and Brain-Based Teaching

Hi! I am so excited that you’ve come to visit my blog! I am a K-5 general music and chorus teacher in central New Jersey.  I enjoy instilling in my kiddies a love and appreciation for music and the arts.

Recently, I embarked on a journey to earn my Master’s degree in Brain-based Teaching and Learning through Nova Southeastern University’s BrainSMART program.  It is truly an amazing program that mixes cognitive neuroscience with educational research.  I can’t even begin to explain how much I have learned in the two classes that I have taken so far.  I have been applying certain aspects of what I have learned in my regular classroom before summer break and now in my Preschool Piano class I teach during the summer.  My little 4-year-olds are eating it up!! To see preschoolers discuss terms such as inferences, using cues, and making connections with such ease is a dream come true for any educator.  In future posts I will be discussing some really cool activities and lessons I did with my preschool kiddies that involves Brain-based teaching.  Can’t wait to share it with you!

Cristina