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25 Ideas to Keep Floor Time Fresh


Here is a recap of all the wonderful, creative ideas parents submitted in the July 2011 Fresh Floor Time Ideas contest.

Creative parents use their cortex to create original floor time games.

Kathy Akehurst Reed

We set up a domino chain reaction. Nate gets to set up a couple of dominoes during each break and when the creeping is done, he can set off the chain reaction. (It is also a visual for not having connections in the brain at first because the vertical dominoes don’t touch each other, but a highway is built in the end.)


Bridget Smith Witt

Reece and Spencer’s favorite creeping game is “Creeping For Berries.” We set up tiny plates used for wasabi, and instead I place a blueberry, raspberry, grape, etc. on them, as a surprise while creeping. They never know where they may end up, so they need to creep all over the downstairs looking. SOMETIMES there may be a mini-marshmallow, the signal that 30 minutes is up! This game usually gets two sessions of 30 minutes out of them!


Brenda Sharpe

A fun activity we do while creeping is getting the Nerf gun and making a target, and then trying to hit it after two laps. She also loves me to read her fairy tales and then we put new endings on the stories.


Jason Alan Robinson

We love to take Junior to the gym with us to creep. There are a ton of great surfaces for creeping and he loves to be like mommy and daddy and workout, so after he gets tired of creeping, we let him SAFELY use a piece of equipment under our supervision!


Carol Skinner

We used different types of plastic/rubber animals from the dollar store and put them in a bowl. We had the boys close their eyes and pick an animal, then tell us what they thought they had picked.

We are also going to pick Lego mini figures and put them in a bowl or put them together and then take one away and have them figure out which mini figure is missing. This is a take-off of the game we saw Sunday with Littlest Pet Shop. Our creeping/crawling game is iPad for Brain Highways using educational and fun games. We play the apps checkers, Stack the States, math apps, Angry Birds. It’s fun and it helps pass the time:) You could also use apps on your Droid phone or iPhone.


Cindy MacDonald Piggott

Our favorite creeping motivator is to make it a treasure hunt — each hidden clue found leads to today’s idea for our next vacation. A coin attached is the reward to put into our family vacation fund jar. Killing two birds with one stone and it gets sisters involved and excited about it, too!


Carlin Beal

I’ve stopped clocking floor time. I timed a lap and that’s the daily goal. In our case, 100 times around the coffee table. Kids choose how many laps in between activities, and no adding time to make sure 45 minutes is done. Just get your laps in. And, it’s visual: for each lap, a penny goes in the glass, so you see progress LOL! It takes less time to get the same 45 minute floor time, and there is real excitement as more pennies are in the jar.

Wyatt’s creep/crawl activity is singing — he changes the words of songs to fit Brain Highways, and they are never the same. For example, the James Brown song,  “I feel good, like I knew that I would, if I creeped.” Or Ke$ha, “Wake up in the morning crawl, around the floor, I got the Brain Highways.”  Raskall Flatts works: “Life is a Brain Highway, I gotta crawl all night long.” And of course, a lot of Elvis songs will work: “I ain’t nothing but a crawl dog, little bit more creeping . . .” He does sound effects too!

Jordan’s creep/crawl is down the red carpet. From US or other magazines, we get photos of different people wearing the same dress. There are multiple levels of play. Level 1 – what are the differences? See how many you can spot in between laps. Level 2 – look, store it in your mind’s eye, and then answer questions without looking. Everything is fair game – background, hair, jewelry. Level 3 – open discussion, for example, why do you think she got more votes than her? Do you agree?

Creep & Crawl Game: First time, creep to card with picture side & one word. Put it in mind’s eye and think of rhyming words. For every rhyming word you give on a lap back, you get a penny. Then read out loud the rhyming words and do another lap. See how many more you get on the next lap. Go to the next card when you’re ready to give it a whirl. Jordan says this is funnier than it looks in print — trust me!


Cari Mcclemons

Kaitlyn and Nolan like musical I Spy. They have an I Spy puzzle that has cards for what you find. We spread the cards around and they creep. Once the music stops, they flip a card to see what they have to find and creep to the I Spy puzzle and find what is on the cards.

Lynette Staples Helmer

Seth’s favorite activity is listening to a Goosebumps audiobook on his iPod while creeping. I also make him a scrumptious berry protein shake that I move around the floor to help cool him down.


Don Trujillo

An original activity that Nate came up with is, he spins and while he’s spinning, I bounce a raquet ball to him. He has to stop, track the ball, and try to catch it. And I will vary the location of the bounced ball. He likes this one a lot!

Nate likes me to read to him while he’s creeping. We’ve read several books about baseball already. About every 4 or 5 minutes, he’ll take a short break and we will do something vestibular or proprioceptive during the break. For example, pulling at silly putty, standing on the balance board, or digging into raw pinto beans to find a ring. Sometimes we will incorporate eye tracking exercises, or math problems. Dice are good for random simple math problems. Either add the sum of the dice or multiply the numbers that come up.


Stephanie Wiese

Madison’s idea: Creep outside doing a crazy 8, while your parents shoot a water gun at you.


Karrie Ochoa

Creative ideas: Before beginning, get eye contact and thank your child for their participation. Spice it up with — music, block towers to knock down, balloons, bubbles, stamps, stickers, friends, obstacle courses, change of scenery or route, story telling, wall charts, short poems, hidden, unexpected treats, a secret surprise when all done, a special privilege, massage, and a place to jot down improvements along the way.


Kathy Holding

Simple creeping game: All you need is some dice and something to keep score with. Roll the dice (you can use one or two) and add up your points. You get to roll as many times as you want, to get a higher number, but if you get a “one,” you lose all your points for that turn. Depending on time, you can play up to 100 or turn by turn. Of course it’s always funner when the parent doesn’t win and has to take a lap!


Mindy Chiou

As the days get hotter, reward your child with squirt guns or spray bottles of water. On a hot day we “spritz” Sam regularly as he creeps, and he loves it!

Put your creeping lane outside for a change of pace. I duct taped two 6×8 pieces of vinyl from Home Depot together to make a 16-foot creeping lane. I put it at the top of my driveway so it’s fairly level (not like I have shown it in the photo–finally wised up about this!), and shaded by the garage in the afternoon.

P.S. Disclaimer: I made this sign myself without permission from BH. We are in a very well-traveled part of the neighborhood and I thought it would be a good way to share what we are doing.

Hire teenagers to help with floor time. I have a fleet of them since Sam doesn’t do the floor work on his own. They are creative and fun, and it is a great way to build self-esteem in the teens, too.


Rebecca Woodland Christensen

Bubble Pop! Evie’s original creeping idea: Mom blows bubbles and she creeps/crawls to them. If she gets there in time, she gets to catch and pop the ones that are left! This has helped us immensly with stalling on the floor! : )


Heather Olson

Cook, Creep, Crawl – The kids love to bake or cook with me, so they take laps around the kitchen in between adding ingredients or following directions for making something. For example: measure the flour, take a lap. Pour flour in the bowl, take a lap. Crack an egg…you get the picture :) Hope some of you find this activity as enjoyable as we do.


When Kids Say I Hate You


Do we inadvertently teach our kids
to use hurtful words?

If those three words are part of our child’s arsenal, we want to end that sooner than later. And we can. Here’s how.

1. We don’t take the words personally.

Since it’s been said we lose 50 IQ points when we’re angry, I acknowledge it’s challenging not to take such words to heart—especially when we recall how many diapers we’ve changed, cuts we’ve bandaged, stories we’ve read—and more.  But the minute we go there, we’re on the defensive. The minute we’re on the defensive (for anything), we’re no longer on sure footing.

2.  We defuse any distorted power those words may have in our home.

To do so, we now respond in a way that’s completely different than before. The idea is to react as though the phrase triggers something positive in us. For example, after hearing our child say, “I hate you!” we can smile and respond, “I’m so in the mood for hearing four-letter words that start with /h/ today. Let’s see . . .  what else is there besides hate? There’s hood, hand, hold . . .”

3.  We challenge all family members to eradicate the word “hate” from daily conversations.

We sit down with the entire family and explain that there’s already too much hate in the world.  We also express this concern: Every time we spew hate, we create a brain map that says this is an okay response whenever we don’t like something.

Then we own up if we’ve ever used hate in reference to something, saying we’ve now decided to end doing so.

Next, we establish a kitty. Family members (including the adults) agree to put a set amount of money (e.g. $1.00) or a chore card (e.g. good for doing someone else’s chore in the house) into the kitty every time they say the word hate. (We can also include other negative words, such stupid and shut-up, as part of this challenge). The family member with the least infractions for the week . . . wins the kitty.  If there is nothing in the kitty (i.e. the goal), the whole family celebrates in a way that is appealing to all.

4. We ponder what might improve our overall relationship with our child.

What’s the true emotion behind an “I hate you” statement? Is our child regularly feeling unacknowledged or dismissed? Is our child feeling that he’s often judged or denied something he finds to be justified? In other words, what has previously gone down that our child is now wanting to “hurt” us with such words?  We can’t gloss over this piece of reflection if we really want this to end.

5.  We teach and role-play alternate cortex ways to respond (to move forward).

We share this with our kids: When we use the word hate, it’s actually like wearing a neon sign on our forehead that says, “I want something to change.”  But that’s not even possible if we go straight to the knee-jerk reaction of hating (whatever). So, role-play how to express what we’re actually feeling and needing in a situation. For example, we might say: “I’m feeling really discouraged because I think I cleaned everything as you asked, but you’re still saying I can’t go play with my friends.”

When considering all of the above, we have the opportunity to turn a “hateful” comment into something very positive.

Why Schools Fail

What would it take to ensure
joyful learning in the classroom?

Bill Gates, along with other well-known philanthropists, has now contributed billions of dollars to improve education.

What kind of change has all that money created? Well, Newsweek recently gave the overall results a disheartening B-minus to C-minus grade.

So I guess money wasn’t the simple answer.

But what if, before ever donating a dime, all those philanthropists had first answered this straight-forward question: How can we make learning joyful?
Yep, when we answer that question, we may be surprised at how much everything else falls into place. Here is how I believe we can make learning enjoyable.

1) We rewrite standards.
I’ve yet to read a state standard that includes the word joy as part of any criterion. Somewhere along the way, we decided that it’s only, for example, important to learn how to read—but it’s irrelevant whether we ever enjoy reading. But I don’t think you can separate the two.

So I want to see the words “with joy” tacked onto whatever skills are spelled out in existing standards. Think we’d see a change in classrooms if such qualifying words were part of how we measure success?

2) We present lessons that trigger a positive physiological response in the brain.
When we provide opportunities to move, engage multiple senses, and interact with peers while learning, the brain is able to process information efficiently and stay alert. It may even release dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to pleasure and motivation.

In contrast, if the brain becomes frustrated or feels “threatened” (e.g. “I can’t do this”), it immediately shuts down, going to the survival part of the brain. With repeated failure, the child then additionally creates a general brain map that says: I can’t learn. I’m not smart.

3) We present curriculum that parallels natural brain development.
For example, since there’s a growth spurt of dendrites in the right hemisphere during ages 4-6, we should be engaging these kids in activities that include lots of movement, music, creative thinking, fantasy and other activities reflective of the right side of the brain. We actually used to do that with our youngsters.

But without any research to back up the change, we switched to a left-brain focus (e.g. reading, writing) that begins as early as kids start school. Any surprise that so many children are now struggling?

4) We encourage and honor thinking over finding the “right” answer.
Not sure how getting it “right” ever came to rule in the classroom. But it’s a completely different learning environment when kids feel as though their ideas and reflections and questions are valued more than getting the correct answer.

Decades ago there was a “just say no” campaign against drugs. Well, how about parents “just say no” to stressful learning. Starting today, let’s make learning without joy . . . unacceptable, unpopular, offensive.

I’m lucky. I think learning is one of the most blissful experiences. That’s why it makes me sad that so many kids have no idea what I’m taking about.

Preparing for Standardized Tests (In a Fun Way)


It’s possible to make standardized testing a positive, fun experience.

As the date for standardized tests looms on the horizon, the classroom environment sometimes changes. Information is suddenly fired at students at rocket speed because . . .well, just maybe, something will sink in at the last minute, and a few more students will get a few more right answers on the test.

And who can blame teachers for doing so? With so much weight placed on standardized test scores these days, such frenzy is almost expected.

Yet, ironically, the more pressure students feel in regards to standardized tests, the more likely they won’t perform well. There are two primary reasons for this. Some kids shut down under pressure, while others try too hard.  However, with the latter, we get stuck in our left hemisphere, thereby increasing the chances of taking the test without the benefit of an integrated brain.

But we can easily change all of the above by making standardized testing a positive experience for everyone.  Here’s how:

1.  We present a different perspective of standardized tests.

We tell kids that standardized tests are a wonderful “deal” for them. After all, they don’t pay a dime for the costs to produce or score the tests, yet they get free feedback that assesses what they currently know. That’s it.

2. We hype the upcoming testing as if it were the Superbowl, and kids participate in similar activities.

For example, kids can do a daily countdown, such as, “Eight more days to Supertesting! Bring it on!”  Kids can also become cheerleaders, creating original cheers related to testing, and they can “produce” entertaining commercials that are then presented on test days.

3. Kids practice movements that wake up the brain, keep it alert, and integrate both hemispheres.

Such movements can include jumping, spinning, running, rocking, arm wrestling, push-ups, and cross-overs. Kids then do these movements right before the test.  They also practice movements such as neck rolls, nodding the head, and doodling Lazy 8s (an infinity sign) since these keep the brain awake while seated.  The act of chewing gum additionally helps the brain retain focus, which explains why many educators suddenly give permission to chew gum during standardized testing.

4. We provide good “brain” food and drink prior to starting the test.

Crunchy foods, such as pretzels, are considered alerting.  Foods high in protein (versus those with a high sugar content) are good for preventing blood sugar levels from rising and dropping suddenly.  And, of course, water is always the best drink for the brain.

So why not pass these ideas along to our kids’ teachers?  Even if they’re not receptive, as parents we can still do a modified version of all of the above at home.  And by doing so, we model how something that may have been perceived negatively can transform into something fun and positive.

When Labels Hurt Kids


When we view kids as champions,
they act like one.

Mia is autistic.  Jon is bipolar.  Tyler is ADD.  Carley is manipulative. Tom is lazy. Jenny is shy.

If we look at how we often describe kids, it seems we may think they’ve become the diagnosis or description that follows the word “is.”

Interestingly, we don’t do this for every diagnosis. For example, I’ve never heard anyone say, “She is cancer.” Or, “She is canceristic.”

But that’s because there is a huge difference between “she is cancer” and “she has cancer.” The latter does not define the condition as being the whole person. Moreover, it implies a temporary condition that comes with hope for improvement.

When we slap an adjective after the word “is,” we also seem to infer a static view of the child. It’s as though we’re saying whatever the child “is” (as defined by the adjective) is as inherent as skin color.  Yet, there are no “genes” for the adjectives often used to describe kids.

So then why do we often frame them this way?  Maybe, it’s a quick, subconscious way to tell others to back off—that nothing they’re going to say or do is ever going to change how the child (or we) respond, since we view the child’s behavior as already etched in stone. Yet, how can that kind of thinking be ultimately helpful?

For example, if we think our child runs out into the street because he is impulsive or because he is autistic—does that then reduce his probability of being hit by a car? No, in other words, the drivers in the passing cars have no idea which child “is” what.  So we can’t be resigned to certain behaviors—if we want every child to be safe.

After decades of working with kids who’ve been given all kinds of diagnoses and who’ve been thought of as a string of not-so-attractive adjectives, I’ve learned a simple truth: Kids become how we view them.

So if we believe their behavior is unmanageable, they’ll give us out of control.  If we believe they are rude, they’ll give us sass. If we believe they are helpless, they’ll give us resigned.

I’ve also learned that kids usually feel judged whenever we view them negatively. When they feel judged, they get defensive. When they get defensive, they get combative. And so, is it any surprise that negative behavior escalates when negative perceptions prevail?

But then, what do we do if our child, for example, rolls his eyes at us when we ask him to do something?  While definitely a leap from framing our child as rude, we could respond with the following:

”Tony, I’m worried your brain is registering eye rolling as an okay and helpful response. Yet, I can’t think of a single place in the world where anyone applauds eye rolling or where doing that then improves the current situation. So what might be a different way to communicate that you don’t like what you’re hearing or being asked to do?”

With that response, we’ve shifted our perspective from thinking Tony is rude to viewing him as someone who has not yet learned a constructive way to express his dislike, and we’re moving forward with that mindset.

And guess what? Kids start to adopt positive behaviors when we shift our view of them in kind. For example, at the Brain Highways Center we believe every child is a champion. That’s the only word we use after “is”—and that’s the behavior they show us.

So here’s a challenge: Put $10 in a “perception” kitty every time this week you think of or describe your child with a diagnosis or adjective after the word “is” (unless that word is champion).  You may be amazed at the changes if that kitty stays empty.

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