There is much more to organizing the brain than just creeping and crawling. Yet, these movements are definitely part of the whole process. So it’s good to know that there are endless ways to organize the brain while having a good time.
Here are some creative ideas that Brain Highways parents have shared with us. Enjoy.
Michelle Jackson Cooper
My son invented the “Nathan’s Aim and Fire Creeping Game.” He hangs a Nerf target on our door at the end of his creeping lane and lays a Nerf gun on the floor at the other end of the creeping lane. He creeps to the Nerf gun, and then fires a shot. If he hits the target, he creeps a lap back and forth to the gun again. If he misses the target, he does a few vestibular activities first, and then creeps again. He likes to see how many “hits” he can get in his creeping timeslot.
Roll a set of dice and add the numbers. If it is an even number, you creep. If odd, you crawl. Depending on how challenging you want it to be, use 1 to 4 dice at a time.
Many times we have used a deck of cards to help chose between creep and crawl — black for creep and red for crawl.
A lot of times, it is math homework or online reading quizzes at the end of creep/crawl lanes. Saved a lot of precious time!
For the artist in all of us, our daughter puts a large sheet of paper on the ground and starts a drawing, adding a little to it each time she turns the end. Another favorite is playing hangman with spelling words. For other card game ideas, we’ve done concentration and addition war.
For the young boys (ages 3 to 5), in between creeping sessions, we sword fight using toy light sabers and keep our son’s mind awake by having him spin both directions while “fighting.” Great fun to keep his creeping going, as well as a good proprioception/vestibular exercise
For young ones (ages 3 to 5), we use activity type books (like Highlights magazine) and have our son do parts of an activity after a complete creeping lap. This keeps him engaged.
I hide gold treasure pieces around the house. When they find one, they put it in a little bag tied around their necks so they can keep crawling and find more. And when they venture into another room, I hide more pieces while they’re not looking (leprechauns are supposed to be tricky, right?)
Jennevieve Luther LaHaye
While we creep we like to read stories, play games like bingo, war, Battleship, and listen to music.
Tracy Keller Bremmer
At the end of each creeping “lap,” my daughter gets a penny for payment. She has to do a minimum of 40 laps (each lap is about 50 seconds). At the end of her session, she is able to go shopping at her creeping store, where we have little prizes that range in “price” from 40 to 80 pennies. She gets to count out her money and either buy something or save up for a bigger prize. These past two weeks, we did a “100 Penny Prize” if she did 100 laps in one day, and she won her prize today!
The child creeps as she makes a craft of her choosing, doing one piece at a time. I call it crafty creeping!
One of our favorite things to do is go to an athletic center, rent a racquetball court and do our creeping and crawling. Once we have done/ worked hard there, we play/honor them by a round of dodgeball or some type of game. They love it because it’s different, and they have something to look forward to.
Lisa Moerner Paul
Our newest floor time adventure is……BINGO! The boys are loving it, and the time is racing by. Earning money while wrapping myelin rocks!!!!!!
Claudia Lucia McKinney
We play a version of operator. The kids start at one end of the house and their dad gives them a funny phrase or word. They creep to me at the other end of the house, repeat the word, and then I give them a new funny word or phrase. Then they creep back to dad. Sometimes the words or phrases build upon each other to make a funny story or paragraph.
When I do Brain Highways I ALWAYS listen to music. I’ve downloaded like 20 new songs.
Stephanie Gagnon Walmsley
Philip and I pass the time with creeping and our “Fast Track” competition. The time just flies by…..
Diana Weinfeld Scherer
We do Mad Libs during creeping — Clay has to identify words for the different parts of speech, then enjoys a funny, silly story.
Creeping idea from Joey — “Mystery Toy:” Put a small toy or item into a paper sack and the child gets one clue per creeping/crawling lap that describes what is inside. After three clues and laps, the child gets one guess per lap until he or she gets it.
Creeping idea from Lucas — The child gets to use their finger strength to attach one clothespin per lap onto a checker. After 3 clothespins and laps, the child can spin the checker and see how long it can keep spinning during the subsequent lap(s).
Use play dough and try to create a character of yours. Write a sentence about an animal/person you think is fun or funny!!
Dana Frankel Mauro
Uno and Go Fish have been popular at our house lately! Annelise also made concentration cards with her addition math facts through 20 since she needs to memorize these by the end of the school year. I also bought the little mini peanut butter eggs to hide around the house, and she has to crawl to look for them. We have a little bag around her neck for her egg collection!
My boys are loving making paper airplanes. I bought them a book, and they are allowed to do one or two folds at the end of each lane. We now have several bags full of paper airplanes. At the end of the week, they test fly them and only keep their favorites (and we reuse the paper from the ones they don’t want to keep).
Stephanie Knight Scarato
My kids came up with “trick or treat” eggs. Fill plastic eggs with various treats and tricks. Treat eggs could have coins, pieces of candy, etc. Trick eggs could have you stand up and do 10 jumping jacks, an empty wrapper or a quick chore. Put all the eggs in a basket and open one for each lap you creep. One egg could have a grand prize in it, like $5 or a movie ticket.
I also use regular white paper and draw a shape on it. It might be a large or small triangle, a circle, long rectangle, squiggly lines, etc. My kids look at the shape and creep. While they creep, they think about what to add on to the shape to make a picture. They draw for about 10 seconds and then creep again. They keep adding on to the shape as much as they want. When finished with that picture, they get another shape.
We do our version of scratch and wins or hidden messages. I draw circles on white paper, use a white crayon to write something inside the circle — letters that spell words, monetary values, shapes for a match game etc. Then when you color in the circle after each lap with a felt pen (darker colors work best), the picture is revealed. Both boys love this and there are endless games you can come up with.
What is Taking Care of Business?
It’s a cortex way of getting everyone’s needs met. When using this approach, we:
So, how well do you “take care of business?”
To find out, encourage your kids and other family members to take the quiz. Read each situation listed in the quiz and the possible ways to respond. Choose the answer that is most similar to what you’d likely do if you were in that circumstance.
When you’re finished, read the answers and explanations to learn which do and do not reflect taking care of business and why.
To note: This quiz includes problems that both kids and adults often face. So, if a situation seems more applicable for a child or vice-versa, just modify it. For example, a child who does not want to take out the trash can be easily changed to be an adult who does not want to do a particular assignment at work.
Last, it’s important to remember: Taking care of business doesn’t mean that we automatically get the outcome we desire. But, hands-down, it’s still the most likely way we’ll move forward.
Situation 1: You’ve heard that someone is spreading gossip about you that is not true.
a) You bad-mouth that person, as well.
b) You do nothing, and try to avoid that person as much as possible.
c) You call that person out in front of others, demanding an apology.
d) You approach the person and say that you’re thinking she may have some misinformation and would like to clarify (and then do that).
Situation 2: You’re informed of a new rule when you take your father to his health clinic. Starting today, all patients must show a photo ID. However, your father did not bring any ID with him.
a) You reschedule another appointment (and ensure your father brings his ID).
b) You firmly point out that this rule is new, and you were not informed of it previously—so it should not apply today.
c) You acknowledge that you don’t want the person checking patients in to get in trouble by sidestepping the rule, but you’re frustrated since you’ve driven a long way and your father needs this appointment. So, you ask if there are other ways to verify that’s him (e.g. confirm his address, phone number, social security number) that’s already in the computer and . . . with a twinkle in your eye, use your hands to frame his face and say, “And this could be the photo ID.”
d) You tell the person checking patients in (who knows your father) that it’s silly to ask him for an ID since he already greeted him by name.
Situation 3: You’re sitting on the sidelines during the tournament, and it doesn’t appear that you’re ever going to get to play.
a) You sit stoically, but then break down (i.e. become upset) once you’re alone with your parents.
b) You act as though you don’t care while everyone else is being subbed in the game (don’t even watch all of the game).
c) You get up and demand that the coach gives you a chance to play, pointing out that you paid your money to be in this tournament, too.
d) You are fully engaged from the sidelines, watching what players on the field do that may have earned them time on the field. After the game is over, you ask the coach to give you three specifics to work on that may result in more playing time for you.
Situation 4: Someone has just criticized you in front of others.
a) You defend yourself.
b) You say something that is critical of that person.
c) You say nothing.
d) You respond by shining the spotlight back on that person and saying, “What were you hoping I’d do with that information?”
Situation 5: You don’t like the chore of taking out the trash, but that’s the job you’ve been assigned.
a) You whine whenever you have to do this.
b) You approach your parents and say: I know that we all need to pitch in to help around the house, but you may not know . . .I really don’t like taking out the trash. Is there another chore I could do instead of that one?
c) You do a terrible job (e.g. spill trash), hoping that your parents will think they need to assign this chore to someone else.
d) You do it, but you scowl to make it clear that you don’t like this job.
Situation 6: Various co-workers never clean up their dishes or trash after eating in the staff lounge.
a) You complain about those who don’t clean up to those who do.
b) You send an email to all your co-workers saying, “Due to budget cuts, we’ve had to lay off the maid for the staff lounge.”
c) You send an email to everyone saying, “Due to budget cuts, we’ve had to lay off the maid for the staff lounge;) So, how about we agree to a day where each of us is in charge of making sure all dishes are washed and all trash is cleared from the tables? If you’re willing to do so, please email me which day(s) would work best for you to assume that role. Thanks.”
d) Pick up after those who leave their dishes and trash—and do not say a word.
Situation 1: You’ve heard that someone is spreading gossip about you that is not true.
This response does not judge the person or assume she was trying to “hurt” you by telling others false information. It also gives you a chance to clarify, without putting the other person on the defensive.
Responses “a” and “c” will only likely escalate the situation. Even if in response “c” you note what information was false, that part of the message won’t be heard since the approach is accusatory and focused on making the other person admit she was wrong.
Note that response “b” is only a possible solution if gossip truly does not bother you or whatever is being spread will not cause future problems (as a result of others hearing and acting on the misinformation) or if you can actually avoid that person. Those are a lot of variables, which is why this response may not actually take care of business.
Situation 2: You’re informed of a new rule when you take your father to his health clinic: Starting today, all patients must show a photo ID. However, your father did not bring any ID with him.
This response acknowledges that the person who works at the clinic needs to do his job as directed while also giving him an opportunity to meet your need (i.e. have your father keep his appointment).
Response “a” meets the need of the person checking patients in, but it does not meet your father’s need to keep his appointment that day. Responses “b” and “d” do not acknowledge that the person who works at the clinic is trying to follow the new rules and will likely put that person on the defensive.
Situation 3: You’re sitting on the sidelines during the tournament, and it doesn’t appear that you’re ever going to get to play.
This response allows the coach to know what you’re needing and wanting while shining the spotlight on him to give you specific ways to improve.
Responses “a,” “b,” and “c” do nothing to move you forward (i.e. get more playing time). In fact, response “c” is just likely to put the coach on the defensive.
Situation 4: Someone has just criticized you in front of others.
This response sidesteps a need to defend yourself, while asking the person who made the comment to clarify his intent behind sharing the comment. By doing the latter, the focus is immediately placed on the person who made the comment, rather than on you.
Responses “a” and “b” will only escalate the situation. If you say nothing (response “c”), you may still antagonize the person if he thinks you’re ignoring him (and he will then likely criticize you more).
Situation 5: You don’t like the chore of taking out the trash, but that’s the job you’ve been assigned to do.
This response acknowledges that all family members need to contribute and help around the house, while opening the door to explore whether there’s any flexibility in who does what job.
Response “a,” c,” and “d” do not take care of business because there is no acknowledgment as to why you might be asked to do this chore. Moreover, if continual whining or scowling or passive aggressive behavior (i.e. doing a terrible job) ultimately gets you out of doing the chore, you have not only missed an opportunity to take care of business, but your brain now also incorrectly registers that such unproductive behavior may be helpful.
Situation 6: Various coworkers never clean up their dishes or trash after eating in the staff lounge.
This response begins by using humor. Yet, unlike “b,” this answer also specifically notes what isn’t being cleaned in the lounge and offers a solution/doable to improve the situation. This response additionally asks, rather than tells, co-workers to take responsibility. Last, it gives yet another doable by spelling out exactly how coworkers can respond if they agree to be in charge of clean-up for a day.
In contrast, response “a” (like “b”) does nothing to improve the situation.
Yes, response “d” ensures that the staff lounge is clean. But, over time, you may start to feel as though you’re the only one being responsible and, therefore, start to judge or resent those who continue to leave their mess, as well as those who do nothing to remedy the situation.
From the time my girls were little, they learned to do something we coined “taking care of business.” That meant they figured out how to get their needs met—while staying calm and addressing the needs of others involved in the situation.
Both my girls are now in their mid-twenties, and they’re making their mark in the world. But over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the phone where one of my daughters started the conversation by saying, “I took care of business today”—and then proudly proceeded to share how she approached a current problem with that mindset.
Last night I received one of those calls from my youngest daughter. She is the owner of the Brain Highways Center in Denver, and it turns out that the gas station right by her place was chosen by talk show host Ellen Degeneres to be part of a free gas give-away promotion. But it was top-secret until the name of the gas station was announced to the public.
So there was pandemonium as soon as the people of Centennial (a suburb of Denver) heard the news. Lines and lines of cars backed up with people waiting for their turn at the pump. Multiple police officers had to even arrive on the scene, just to keep the mayhem to a minimum.
But not everyone wanted free gas. Some of those cars had parents and their kids, who were on their way to Brain Highways. Yet, they were now stuck in a line of backed up cars with no hopes of making their class on time.
Kiley (my daughter) knew those families would be upset if they missed class. She also knew that many of them came from as far as 60 miles away, so it would be extra frustrating to have driven all that way for nothing.
That’s when she decided . . . to take care of business.
First, she walked over to the gas station to get clarification as to what was going on and why the other businesses hadn’t been notified. (The promotion literally shut down every business in that shopping center.)
She quickly learned it was an Ellen Degeneres promotion and that keeping everything confidential—down to the last minute—was part of the deal.
With that information, Kiley graciously acknowledged how the owner of the gas station certainly wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize the promotion by breaking the rules. But, as the owner of Brain Highways Denver, she knew her families were going to be upset and frustrated if they missed class. So how could they move forward?
Here’s what “taking care of business” brought about:
1) The police officers agreed to give V.I.P. treatment to the Brain Highways families by holding off oncoming traffic and re-routing the Brain Highways families into the shopping center.
2) Brain Highways staff quickly got on the phone and called the rest of the families who were scheduled to come to classes that day so they now had the heads-up to tell the police officers, “We’re on our way to Brain Highways.”
3) The gas station owner gave Kiley $400.00 worth of gas cards, which she, in turn, gave to her families and staff to help compensate for any inconvenience they may have endured while trying to get to the Brain Highways Center.
4) The owner of the gas station came over to the Brain Highways Center that evening to personally apologize, again, for the inconvenience.
To Kiley’s knowledge, none of the other businesses in her same shopping center did anything—other than complain and get upset over the situation. My guess is . . . they’re still angry today about yesterday’s lost revenues.
But here’s the good news for those business owners and everyone else. Anyone can learn to “take care of business”—at any age. It merely begins with this mindset: If we stay in our cortex and approach situations with a problem-solving perspective, it’s possible to meet everyone’s needs.
Now doesn’t that sound like a world we’d all like to live in?
Here’s an idea for an invention that might revolutionize teaching.
I’m picturing a small machine that is hooked up to each student’s cortex—the thinking, logical part of the brain. As students access their cortex during lessons, teachers would now see different sections of those kids’ forehead light up as they process, ponder, and reflect on the information being presented.
However, if students are stuck in the primitive parts of their brain, teachers would now just see black, empty screens on those kids’ forehead.
So how would this nifty invention make a difference? Well, what if teachers, for example, note that 75% of their students have a black, empty screen? Yikes.
I’m thinking that’s going to make it a lot harder to continue with the lesson as planned. I’m also thinking there’d be more understanding and incentive to implement teaching techniques that address the probability that some (or many) students in a classroom have underdeveloped lower centers of the brain.
But, in truth, we don’t really need that invention. We already know there are kids in the classroom without complete lower brain development—those who have to juggle between paying attention to the lesson and finding ways to compensate for missing automatic brain functions.
We already know that when such underdevelopment is present, it doesn’t take much to trigger a “primitive brain response”—and once kids are in that state, no learning at all is going to happen (i.e. we’re back to the black, empty screen).
So why not forge ahead with various actions to ensure learning is accessible to everyone? Here are some simple ways to do just that.
1. Toss the idea that kids have to “sit up and be still” in order to pay attention.
When the vestibular system is not functioning properly, movement wakes up the brain. So when such kids rock or wiggle in their chair, this actually helps—not hinders—their ability to focus. Similarly, when kids have retained primitive reflexes, they’ll slouch or sit in chairs in odd positions but that, too, actually make it easier for them to pay attention.
2. Provide opportunities for kids to get up and move within lessons.
We all need to move to stay focused. The irony is . . . the classroom teacher is often the one who moves the most in the classroom.
3. Ask questions instead of issuing directives.
Kids with underdeveloped lower centers of the brain may not process directives the same way others hear it. In such case, a directive may become distorted and trigger a response that often seems disproportionate to what was actually said.
For example, a simple statement, such as, “Thomas, put away your book,” may be heard as: “THOMAS! PUT AWAY YOUR BOOK!” In such case, Thomas now responds as though someone had just threatened and yelled at him.
On the other hand, if we forgo directives and ask questions, we avoid this possibility altogether. Here, the teacher would say, “Thomas, did you think we wanted your book on top of your desk or inside?”
In short, questions are always processed in the cortex (where we want students to be at all times).
4. Reduce visual stimuli on the walls, ceilings, desks, and around the white board.
Some kids with an underdeveloped midbrain also have what’s called a visual figure-ground problem. Here, the brain has difficulty relegating information to the “background” and keeping what’s important in the foreground. So all those extras (that we thought were providing a stimulating room environment) are just sensory overload for many kids.
5. Keep directions short. Model both what you do and do not want to happen.
Kids with an underdeveloped midbrain don’t often process speech at the same speed as the rest of us. So, when teachers fire off multi-step directions, these kids are still processing the first part while teachers are now explaining the next step. We also increase the probability of kids comprehending directions if we take a few seconds to model what we don’t want to happen. Such contrast helps to make the desired action crystal clear.
6. Pass out materials only after the directions have been given.
When the midbrain is underdeveloped, it’s often like we have a magnetic draw to touch whatever is in front of us. So, by waiting to pass out materials, we automatically ensure that such kids are not playing with materials when directions are given.
7. Refrain from requiring kids to make eye contact.
If kids’ don’t have good peripheral vision (which is often the case with underdeveloped lower centers of the brain), they’re not going to be able to sustain good eye contact, whereas kids with poor eye teaming may actually see multiple images if forced to look directly at the person talking.
In short, kids with limited peripheral vision and poor eye teaming will be able to pay better attention to what the person is saying if they’re not required to make eye contact.
8. Honor the act of thinking, rather than getting the “right” answer.
If teachers deem an answer “wrong” in front of the whole class, kids with underdeveloped lower centers of the brain are likely to shut down or respond negatively (i.e. we see the black, empty screen when we’re in the survival part of the brain). That’s because such kids are “wired” to go into fight-or-flight behavior as soon as they feel threatened or fearful or uncomfortable.
So what can teachers do instead? Well, they can thank the student for giving the question “a whirl,” as well as acknowledge the thinking that went into the response.
Just eight simple tips . . . yet they can radically change many kids’ learning experience. What would it take to make these changes in every classroom?
A mother recently shared that another child was mimicking her daughter’s speech. She admitted that her daughter’s speech is sometimes hard to understand, but nonetheless, she was upset by this.
I certainly understand a knee-jerk reaction of wanting to shield and protect our kids from such negative interactions. But since we cannot control what others say and do, I actually find such situations to be . . . unexpected gifts.
How can that be? Well, it gives us a chance (as parents) to teach our kids how to respond when others aren’t acting in ways we perceive to be kind or understanding. In truth, we all continue to experience such unpleasantness throughout our lives. So why not help our kids build effective brain maps right now—when they are young—so that such negativity doesn’t throw them off balance, now or later.
For example, we can teach our kids not to cringe or withdraw or even judge the person who wasn’t responding as we’d like.
We do this by role-playing what our child might say to shift the spotlight back on that person who initiates the negativity.
For example, in this case, our child might say: “I was wondering why you’re imitating how I speak.”
With that single comment, we empower our child how to quickly redirect the focus back to the other person, as well as teach her to ask others to clarify their intent. Wouldn’t that be a helpful brain map to have throughout life?
Or, our child could ask: “How were you hoping I’d respond when you imitate how I speak?”
Again, this comment puts the spotlight back on that person—so that he’s the one on center-stage and is now the person who has to come up with a response.
Of course, it’s unlikely the child will say something as direct as, “Well, I was hoping you’d cry because I’m mean.” But even if the child says that, then this immediately erases any doubt the comment was really about him—and not our child.
But more likely, the response will be something along the lines of, “Uh, I don’t know” or “I just thought it was funny.”
So we teach our child to follow up (regardless of what the person says) with only this short sentence: “Thanks for sharing that.”
Nothing more needs to be said because our child has already accomplished the original goal: She has nicely shifted that she, not the other child, has been in control of this interaction.
Or, our child can even just say from the get-go: “Thanks for giving me feedback that it’s sometimes hard to understand my speech. Good to know that I’m working hard at building highways in my brain so that it will be easier to understand me.”
It’s irrelevant whether or not the other child processes that message. When our child says this truth aloud, it reminds her why her speech may seem unintelligible to others—and that it won’t be that way forever.
So, while it sounds odd, kids making fun of other kids can actually be a wonderful gift—if we choose to view it that way. In fact, all challenges are really just opportunities (in disguise) to learn.