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“Promoting Early Brain & Motor Development through Movement”

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1 “Promoting Early Brain & Motor Development through Movement”
January 7, 2012 Terri Lorentz MA Early Childhood Special Education Teacher/Educational Speech Clinician

2 Learner Objectives Participants will review research that supports that to achieve the precision of the mature brain, stimulation in the form of movement and sensory experience during the early years is essential. Participant will review a variety of sensory motor ideas to assist in creating as nurturing early childhood environment.

3 “Rich environments produce rich brains” & an essential agent in this process is movement activity. (Begley, 1997; Nash, 1997) Research supports that positive early experiences forge the foundations for lifelong learning and behavior.

4 New Prospectives Researchers believed that the wiring of the brain was primarily “programmed” by one’s genetic blue print. Researchers now believe the main circuits are prewired, but other pathways contain trillions of “un- programmed” connections. Much like a wiring of a new house before being occupied. Such as breathing, control of heart beat, and reflexes. These connections are dependent on stimulation from the environment and experience in the environment. It is this stimulation that completes the architecture of the brain.

5 Researchers believe that to achieve a mature brain, stimulation in the form of movement and sensory experiences is necessary. (Greenough & Black, 1992; Shatz, 1992) Has occur during the early developing years. Experience strengthens & bonds those synapses, which are the connections between neurons. Connections not made by activity, are weak & pruned away, much like the pruning of dead or weak branches of a tree. If neurons are used, they become integrated into the circuitry of the brain. Due to changes in experience, not even identical twins are wired the same (Chugani, 1998)

6 Implications for Early Educators
Identification of critical periods or “Windows of Opportunity.” Motor control Vision Language Feelings Etc. “Nature opens certain windows for experience to have the greatest effect. Opening at birth and narrowing as a child grows older. If a child misses an opportunity, his or her brain may not develop it circuitry to it’s fullest potential. Does this mean that a child will be impaired? No, except in abnormally deprived conditions. Hypothetically, the windows narrow, not close. Restructuring and learning takes place over adulthood.

7 Windows for Motor Development
Posture & coordination – forge first two years. Fine Motor skills – Open from shortly after birth to about age nine. Gross Motor skills – Open from prenatal to around age five. Vital to laying the “foundation” of brain circuits dedicated to motor control. Child begins considerable experience in the world as he/she “moves” about the environment.

8 Movement experiences should be introduced early in life and during the windows of opportunity.
Motor skills enhance our lives at all ages and a positive attitude about habitual physical activity sets the foundation for a lifetime of good health. This is not to say that such activities should not be stressed beyond the critical period.

9 What can we do Provide children with lots of sensory- motor experiences, especially of the visual motor variety. This includes activities that integrate visual information with fine and gross motor movements. Such activities as kicking, catching, etc.

10 Include a variety of basic gross motor activities that involve postural control, coordination of movements, and locomotion – crawling, creeping, body rolling, and jumping. Moderate & vigorous intensity gross motor activity provide the brain with its chief energy source – GLUCOSE. These activities increase blood flow, which feeds the brain and enhances neuronal connectivity during the critical period.

11 Combine movement and music.
The combination of music and movement presents an excellent learning medium for young children. The jury is still out regarding the relationship between musical experience & specific academic achievement.

12 Physical Activity guidelines for Infants (birth-12 months) (naspe, 2002)
Infants should interact with parents and/or caregivers in daily physical activities that promote exploration of their environment. Infants should be placed in safe settings that facilitate physical activity and do not restrict movement for prolonged periods of time. NASPE – National Association for Sport & Physical Education.

13 Infants’ physical activity should promote the development of movement skills.
Infants should have an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities. Parents and/or caregivers should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate movement skills.

14 Movement activity ideas for infants
Provide colorful and moving mobiles over their cribs. Play games that encourage infants to “come and get” toys within crawling or reaching distance. Provide opportunities to play with large blocks, stacking toys, nesting cups, textured balls, and squeezed toys. That they can reach and grasp or kick with their feet. Be sure none of the items can be swallowed and have sharp points or edges.

15 Physical activity guidelines for toddlers (12-36 months) (naspe, 2002)
Toddlers should have at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity. Toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours per day of daily, unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.

16 Toddlers should develop movement skills that build on more complex movements tasks.
Toddlers should have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities. Parents and/or care givers need to be aware of the importance of physical activity.

17 Movement activity for toddlers
Provide a variety of movement activities that introduce basic gross motor skills such as kicking, catching and bouncing balls of different sizes and shapes. Provide a variety of manipulatives such building blocks, rings, and large puzzles. Encourage them to scribble and draw with crayons and pencils.

18 Physical activity guidelines for preschoolers (3- 5 years) (naspe, 2002)
Preschoolers should have at least 60 minutes a day of structured physical activity. Preschoolers should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of daily unstructured physical activity and not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a times except when sleeping.

19 Preschoolers should develop competence in movement skills that build on the more complex movement skills. Preschoolers should have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards. Parents and/or care givers need to be aware of the importance of physical activity.

20 Movement activity ideas for preschoolers
Provide a wide variety of movement experiences that require coordinating body movements with visual information such as ball rolling, throwing and catching balls, and striking or kicking. Introduce activities that elevate the heart rate such as dancing, biking, jump rope, swimming, and brisk walking.

21 Provide experiences with outdoor play equipment to stimulate movement exploration and creative play.
Provide opportunities to draw, play musical instruments, and complete puzzles to further develop fine-motor development.

22 Early childhood programs are finding that movement is a very effective learning medium for young children. Movement activities stimulate problem- solving abilities, critical thinking, and reinforce a variety of academic concepts.

23 Additional resources “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School” by John Medina. “Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five” by John Medina.

“Play & Learn: A preschool curriculum for children of all abilities” by Mary j. Sullivan Coleman OTR, MA & Laura J. Krueger PT, MA

25 What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains?
Brain rules: 12 Principles for surviving and Thriving at work, home, and school Questions asked: How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multitasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains? Multitasking – our brain can really o focus on one thing at a time. This alone is the best argument for not talking on your cell phone while driving. We don’t sleep to give our brain a rest-studies show our neurons firing furiously away while the rest of the body is catching a few z’s.

26 Each chapter describes a “Brain Rule” what scientists know for sure about how our brains work and then offers ideas for our daily lives. Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. John Medina also has videos with his fascinating stories and sense of humor that he breathes into brain science.

27 You will discover: Exercise improves cognition.
Every brain is wired differently. We are designed never to stop learning and exploring. Memories are volatile and susceptible to corruption. Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn . Vision trumps all of the other senses. Stress changes the way we learn. While our brain loses cells as we age it compensates so that we continue to be ableto learn well into our golden years.

28 Brain rules for baby: how to raise a smart and happy child from zero to five
Through fascinating and funny stories, John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, unravels how a child’s brain develops and offers practical tips for any parent.

29 what you will learn: Where nature ends and nurture begins.
Why you don’t need to buy “brain boosting” baby toys. Why men should do more household chores. What to say to your child when emotions run hot. The effect of TV on children under 2.

30 Why praising “effort” is better than praising “intelligence.”
Why the best predictor of academic performance is not IQ; it’s self-control.

31 Brain Gym international
Founded in 1987 under the name of Educational Kinesiology Foundation and changed to Brain Gym International in Used in over 87 countries and translated in 40 languages. Based on the principle that moving with intention leads to optimal learning.

32 26 brain gym movements Developed by educator and reading specialist Paul E. Dennison and his wife and colleague, Gail E. Dennison. Basis of their work is the interdependence of movement, cognition and applied learning. The 26’ movements provide practical tips and tools for immediate implementation and explore the relationship between intentional moving and learning.

33 Dramatic improvements have been made in the following skill areas:
Effectiveness of these simple activities have been reported over the past 20 years. Dramatic improvements have been made in the following skill areas: Concentration Memory Academics: reading, writing, math, test taking

34 Physical coordination
Relationships Self –responsibility Organization skills Attitude

35 Multiple studies have been done to support the effectiveness:
Effects on Academic Progress, Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Eye Movement and Vision, Spelling, Attention, Locomotion, & Fine Motor Control, Arousal, Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity, and Problem Behaviors.

36 The 32nd symposium – intervention for persons with special needs
Thursday, March 1 – Saturday, March 3, at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott Hotel in Bloomington. Introduction to Brain Gym – 8 hour Session 8:30 – 6:00

37 play & learn: a curriculum for children of all abilities (ablenet)
Curriculum, published in 1999 is revised and simplified. Based on the belief that all children learn through movement and meaningful play and facilitating friendships at the preschool level is of utmost value and importance. Talk about how I became interested and utilized the curriculum in our preschool.

38 Evidence-based practice drive the “Play and Learn” components:
Transdisciplinary – “Holistic Model.” Routines – Embeds activities in child’s day. Universal Design – Activities are meaningful and relevant to young children and presented with a range of options. Based on research that emphasizes the holistic model –child, environment, functional tasks are integrated, family, staff members work as a team. Routines – in home, school, community Options allow for assistive technology, helps motivate children with severe cognitive and physical disabilities. The technology is embedded in the classroom and easily accessible.

39 Families more invested in the assessment and Learning:
Strength-Based – Focuses on what is or has been successful for the child. Families more invested in the assessment and Learning: What does not work? What does work? What might work in their situation? Family Focused! Typically, the child or family functioning is described in terms of diagnoses or deficits. Families are brought in to assist in the decision making and analyzing what has worked, what does not work, and what might work in their situation.

40 Key elements in a learning environment
Movement and Music Structure and Repetition Motivation Social Interactions

41 Movement and music Movement plays a significant role in alerting the nervous system and keeping it at an optimal level for learning. Children learn about their world through movement. Music is motivating for young children and is an important channel for learning. The combination facilitates growth in social/emotional, sensorimotor, receptive and expressive language, and cognitive skills. Our culture is filled with more and more sedentary activities with television, video and computer games.

42 Structure and repetition
Promotes calmness and internal organization within each child. Provides predictability with clear expectations for optimal learning. Provides structure with strong visual supports. Provides skill transference through repetition of tasks with variation. Variation keeps the task interesting, motivating, and allows for problem-solving opportunities. Embedding learning opportunities into regular routines, such as taking off a jacket, children learn important functional skills develop self-esteem,

43 motivation We know children stay motivated when they are having fun and playing with friends. Research shows that play activities using gross and fine motor skills promote all areas of learning.


45 Social interactions Any activity can be set up as an opportunity for social interaction between children. Children giggling and playing together with highly motivating activities enhance social/emotional growth. What child wouldn’t be drawn to a robot with markers or a “Paint n Swirl” project? Commercial games provide excellent opportunities to promote social interactions.

46 We all learn through our senses:
Sensory systems We all learn through our senses: Smell Sight Taste Hearing Tactile Vestibular Proprioception

47 Tactile (Touch) Lets a child know if his elbow hurts when he falls.
Helps a child feel and recognize an object in his jacket pocket before he pulls it out and sees it.

48 Vestibular (movement)
Responds to changes in head position and body movement in space. Coordinates the child’s eyes, head, and body, and both sides of the body. Activities such as riding a trike or climbing a jungle gym.

49 Proprioception (body position)
Provides child with a sense of his/her body as information is exchanged between the brain and muscles and joints. Provides child with information of how each body part is moving which assists in performing preschool tasks. Example – knowing how wide to open your arms to catch a ball or being able to touch your toes with eyes closed.

50 The tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive senses keep the brain alert and help organize all the senses naturally. Children having difficulties organizing sensory information may avoid or be frightened by activities such as the playground. This impacts other areas of learning. They may be overly sensitive to movement, touch, sights, and sounds or not sensitive enough to the same sensory input. Some children show poor balance in movement activities or having difficulty coordinating their movements to learn such tasks as riding a trike. We refer this children as having sensory processing difficulties.

51 Visual supports Organize us. Gives us structure. Help us learn.
Helps us understand expectations. Easily to interpret. Helps us focus on the important information. Maintains our attention. Have you ever been in a foreign airport, not able to speak the language and so grateful for the visual signs to navigate through the space the words have no meaning? Our “to do” lists, calendars, etc. Daily schedules and personal schedules. Sequence pictures for an art project or game. Simple sequence pictures in the dramatic play area.

52 Early learning standards
Social and Emotional Development. Approaches to Learning. Language and Literacy Development. Creativity and the Arts. Cognitive Development. Physical and Motor Development. Play and Learn is based on the Minnesota Standards of Learning. All the activities are centered around each domain.

53 Play areas Let’s Paint and Create Let’s Move Let’s Read and Write
Let’s Play

54 Let’s paint and create

55 Let’s paint and create Cooperative Art Projects – “Art in Process”
Creating art cooperatively on a vertical surface encourages fine motor skills such as tearing paper, cutting simple pictures, crumpling tissue paper, using glue sticks, markers, small crayons, paint daubers and a variety of painting tools. Art projects are set up that children work together over several days. This promotes social and emotional skill development since the natural set-up requires problem-solving and working together. Covering one wall of room with a large piece of mural paper for children to create and learn together.

56 Utilizing Mary Benbow’s research on hand and wrist development which supports the use of vertical surfaces. Promotion of good wrist position to develop stability. Supports the thumb to be in good position to develop dexterity. Promotion of good wrist extension at vertical surfaces facilitates balanced use of the small muscles in the hand.

57 Facilitates the development of arm and shoulder muscles.
Promotes good arching of the hand which allows child to skillfully manipulate a variety of toys and objects. Facilitates the development of arm and shoulder muscles. This explains why easels (table and floor) are an important part of the preschool environments.

58 Box Art – facilitates cooperative play on a vertical surface.
Example – September – Paint and create a bus together; take pictures of children converting a big cardboard box into a bus. All children working together , painting, creating, riding, and singing. Fine motor, language, color recognition, and social skills are enhanced through play. First Paint box orange, subsequent days, cut out wheels, make head lights, create steering wheels with tubes, and sing “The Wheels On the Bus.” Go for a ride. Collect tokens from the riders – use assistive technology “Step by Step, which says “one red token, please.”

59 Let’s move

60 Let’s move Movement at school takes on a great importance for our children’s personal health and physical fitness. Gyms and Play Grounds – Great places to work on self concept and self esteem. Functional environments for climbing, jumping, sliding, running, riding trikes, using scooter boards and ramps, obstacle courses. Children have become more sedentary with all the technology in their lives. Make riding trikes more meaningful – set up gas pumps, road signs, and mailboxes along roads with colored tape.

61 Obstacle courses Use large wedges, steps, slides, foam rings, barrels, climbers, hopping balls, trampolines, tunnels, and balance beams. Fine Motor activities such as puzzles, pegs, and manipulatives can be incorporated into the course. Change on a monthly basis.

62 Cooperative sensorimotor activities
Promote upper body strengthening, motor planning, and using both sides of the body in coordinated manner. Examples; ElastaBlast, parachutes, bungy cords, knit tube tunnels.

63 Music is an important tool to use with children.
Music can be calming or alerting. Music can teach different rhythms, tempos and concepts – fast/slow, et. Music is processed in another part of the brain. Good way to energize and end an activity.

64 Let’s read and write Literacy is such an important part of every preschool classroom. Many books available that provide meaningful vocabulary, simple story text with lots of repetition and clear, helpful uncluttered illustrations on every subject possible. Take pictures of “Box Art” and sequence into a class book. Laminate and put in reading corner.

65 Example activities in classroom:
Writing goes hand in hand with reading. Example activities in classroom: Large and small dry erase boards – using grip erasers or small pom poms to erase. Magnetic boards – use theme related magnets; play matching games by drawing vertical, horizontal, diagonal strokes; place magnets around drawn shapes. Example – Big pumpkin and place magnetics on line drawing.

66 Attach chalk boards to easels and work on stroking.
Mats that you can use to create designs with water or multiple mixtures inside. Writing Centers with paper, envelopes, markers, stamps, stickers, colored chalk, and other fun office supplies. Children learn the power of writing by making birthday cards, creating a grocery list, drawing pictures for using a variety of are mediums.

67 Assistive Technology or Battery Operated toys can also be used.
Example; Battery operated robot with markers taped to it can make writing and drawing accessible to all children. Use stencil and paper, the switch accessed robot can draw and create.

68 Let’s play Share story about the styrofoam peanuts.

69 Let’s play Includes sensory table activities, manipulatives, and games. Sensory Table Low ones allows children to kneel Use variety of medium – water, sand, shaving cream, corn, rice, pumpkins, pine cones, gourds, acorns, and on and on. Any size table will work.

70 Gardening is another favorite sensory activity
Gardening is another favorite sensory activity. Winter wheat grass grows green and lush quickly. Purple bean seeds have great color as they grow. Unscrewing/screwing spray bottles and filling with water helps with the development of using two hands. Put a big plastic garbage bag in table first, then dirt and seeds. Use spray bottles filled with water to water the seeds. After grown, add scissors for the students to cut the grass.

71 Manipulatives are an important part of every classroom for developing fine motor and early visual perceptual skills Examples; Bead stringing, lacing, peg boards, pegs hidden in play dough, puzzles, clothes pin activities, nesting toys.

72 Games are an important component of the classroom play area.
Popular toy companies make some very good games that require in hand manipulation skills. Keep an eye out! Examples; Sandwich Cookie Game – match shapes with two halves or name the color on the bottom of a little yellow duck. Games come & go. Used to be mostly board games and moved a marker.

73 The Four Areas: Let’s Paint and Create, Let’s Move, Let’s Read and Write, Let’s Play Make up the framework the structure of the “Play and Learn” learning environment.

74 This framework has been used for more than 15 years.
It is fun, motivating, and engaging. It addresses the important early childhood domains of language and literacy, creativity and the arts, cognitive development, and physical and motor development, and social and emotional development. We use it in our preschool classrooms and love it.


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