Second graders learned about neurons (brain cells) and that healthy neurons have lots of dendrites. (We looked at pictures of healthy and unhealthy mouse neurons!) They also learned about neurotransmission -- how our brain sends electrical signals through our bodies -- and showed how it works by turning themselves into a string of neurons sending a signal. They colored neurons, which now fill two bulletin boards in the hallways.
Third graders reviewed neurotransmission and learned about the parts of the brain and what they do. They assembled brain puzzles that are hanging all over the school.
Fourth graders learned about the brain's left and right hemispheres, and about what happens in the synapses (the spaces between the neurons) to make neurotransmission possible. They also learned about what happens in the brain when a person becomes addicted -- to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or video games.
Fifth graders reviewed everything they already knew (which is a lot!) and learned about how brains are studied in laboratories. They also learned about the effects on the brain of alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, and stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.
In all grades, kids talked about ways to keep their brains healthy -- by playing, being physically active, solving problems, reading, building, doing puzzles, imagining, and creating. We talked about how too much screentime (TV, videogames, and computer) takes up the time that they could be doing things that are fun AND good for your brain.
We had a fun and entertaining Healthy Brain/Screentime Turnoff kick-off assembly, our best ever so far! Mrs. McCullar's 5th grade class did a skit of a game show contest between the Brain Boosters and the Screen Team. Guess who won! The Screen Team had a very hard time meeting the physical and mental challenges, and the Brain Boosters left them in the dust! Mrs. Thompson's 4th grade class performed an epic poem that they wrote as a class called "Want to Keep Your Brain Healthy?" Mrs. Torrey's 4th grade did a skit based on the book Mouse TV, in which a large family of mice finds out that they have more fun doing the activities that they have seen on TV than they do just watching them. Mrs. Vielleux's class presented ideas for fun ideas to do instead of screentime and presented their bright and beautiful banners about healthy brains, which the whole audience read aloud. The Otter and Clifford the Big Red Dog made a special appearance to remind the kids how important it is to read. The second grade led us in singing "Take Back Your Brain." Since it is an annual tradition, the 3rd through 5th graders knew the song too, and the younger kids quickly learned the chorus. The gym was rocking!
Want to listen to it at home? (The kids love it and it's got a GREAT message! Download it here for free!
Brain-O-Mania was a great success (watch for pictures coming soon) and the kids (and some parents, too) were so excited to see the real brains and participate in brain-healthy activities.
All week the kids have been talking about the things they are doing instead of screentime. There has been conversation about hiking, catching frogs, bike riding, fort building, family board game night, arts and crafts, and much more. The wonderful collection in the lobby of recycled sculptures that kids have made at home grows every day. Kids are earning otters by reading at home in the You Otter Read read-a-thon. Each class is competing to see which one can earn the most otters -- the class that does will win a pizza lunch with the Otter!
Watch for more pictures of the assembly, Brain-O-Mania, and recycled sculptures to come!