There are some amazing resources available to help children understand the brain and how it works. This is a round-up of some of the best I have found. Some are free, interactive ideas and some are inexpensive resources for purchase. (I do not get paid for promotions. I promote the products I find helpful.) I'm also including some of my favorite videos I have found on YouTube.
by WholeHearted School Counseling
This is at the top of the list because it has so many features. It comes with informative videos, activities, and posters to help children learn about their brain and how it responds to stress. The graphics are engaging and it is a well-rounded source to help educate kids about how their brains work.
by Beth Gordon
This was designed to be a homeschool activity but has great material to use with kids in counseling sessions. It includes free printable worksheets. I am loving the brain mold. They used it with playdough to create the parts of the brain, but the mold was created as a Jello mold. Now that could be interesting! It reminds me of the green Jello from Better Off Dead. LOL!
by Integrated Learning Strategies
This is a helpful infographic for information at a glance. It could also be informative for parents. The website offers cross-body movement exercises and information about how these exercises are helpful to kids.
by Science Sparks
This article shows how to create a brain model from playdough and what each part of the brain does. This could be a hands-on activity to allow kids to learn in a kinetic way.
**Don't miss my post about creative ways to use playdough in therapy. It includes recipes, ways to make kits, playdough mats, and storage ideas.
by Karen Young
This one uses a drawing of a head with Lego figures to show the difference between the "upstairs" brain and the "downstairs" brain. This is worth the time to read. It provides roles for the different characters in the brain and defines their purpose. It normalizes "flipping your lid" and gives context for the reason it happens.
The biochemical reactions in the brain are difficult for most adults to understand. This article makes it practical and translates it into language that children can comprehend and respond to. It provides a mental picture of what is happening so they can recognize what they need to do to calm down when they become frazzled.
by Homeschool Activities
This free printable PDF is awesome! This activity will allow you to work with the child to cut and tape together the brain hat, which in itself can be a therapeutic activity of cooperation, communication, and connection. As you go, you can educate the child on the different parts of the brain and their functions. I give this one an A++. (Extra + because it's free!!)
Here is another infographic for the brain, specifically how anger affects the brain. It could be useful for explaining the brain to older children or parents.
Related Post: Creative Ways to Use Dinosaurs in Play Therapy
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Read Aloud
This one would be good either to purchase the book and read it in session or you could use this video read-aloud. It offers a great description of the brain and how it works.
Dan Siegel's Hand Model of the Brain
Dr. Dan Siegel has presents the hande model of the brain to help children and parents understand how the brain reacts to trigger. They will learn the need to use coping mechanisms to calm down and allow the signal to reach the prefrontal cortex so they can think through a problem and respond appropriately rather than getting stuck in the fight or flight mode or anger outbursts.
Speaking of Dr. Siegel, this image makes my brain happy! Here's the original source link.
I like to include this hand model of the brain printout for parents in all of my coping skill toolboxes. It is the best simple explanation that I have found to help parents and kids understand what it means to "flip your lid" and how to prevent it.
Three Parts of Your Brain by Dr. Russ Harris
The information in this video is similar to what Dr. Siegel explains, but the graphics make it easy to keep kids engaged. The terminology is a little bit different, but the animals can help children remember the information better. Although I personally prefer Dr. Siegel's video, the kids definitely pay more attention to this one.
How Your Brain Works:
This is a well made video with graphics to help kids understand what happens in their brains. If a picture speaks 1,000 words, a video must speak more!
Fight Flight Freeze – A Guide to Anxiety for Kids
This is my go to video for helping children understand the fight, flight, or freeze response. It is created for kids with anxiety, but definitely applies to those with anger as well. I love how it helps kids realize that everyone has the fight, flight, or freeze response. The goal is to learn how to manage it. This is perfect for normalizing feelings. If you work with teens, they also have a video that is designed for an older audience. Be sure to check it out as well.
I have found in my practice that educating kids in a fun, playful way is the key to success. The more they understand their bodies the better equipped they are to manage them. It helps them feel empowered to overcome challenges rather than allowing their bodies rule them. I have noticed a significant improvement in outcomes since I started teaching kids about the fight, flight, or freeze response as well as the hand model of the brain.