Priming is a method in which exposure to one stimulus affects the response to a subsequent stimulus. Simply stating, it’s training your mind beforehand to experience a certain circumstance and improve its response the next time. The techniques which prime the brain helps you to tap into your mind’s basic abilities like focus, logic, creativity, storing and recalling information.
These techniques also help our mind process information faster and shorten the time of memory retrieval. Hence, this technique of priming the brain for learning can be effectively implemented to help students of a younger age.
The two strategies that are used to prime the brain are: brain breaks and focused attention. While brain breaks develop a state of relaxed attentiveness, focused attention makes students focus on the stimulus.
Thus, in this process, the executive functions like emotional regulation and memory retention improve. The following activities are easy and enjoyable and work with elementary as well as older students.
BRAIN BREAKS TECHNIQUE: PRIME THE BRAIN BY TAKING SHORT ENJOYABLE BREAKS
Peeling a tangerine:
To start with the activity, give every student a ripe tangerine or any other similar fruit. Next, ask them to guess what they might be doing within the hours to come. Give every student a chance to open up their curiosity doors and get intrigued. To make the activity more interesting, you can prompt them by asking ‘How does this tangerine resemble our brain?’
To proceed further in this activity, ask them to close their eyes-or hold the tangerine behind their back-then ask them to peel it off. Notice their actions closely.
- Are they able to peel it off?
- Is it easy for them?
- Is it harder than they expected?
- How quickly can they peel it off?
As they finish peeling and start eating the fruit, ask them about the sensation, feelings or experiences they are going through. This will make them mindful of daily activities like eating they indulge in.
Prime the brain by mirror drawings:
This activity requires a pair of students. Both of them must have a pen or pencil, drawing paper and must sit facing each other. Next, one student (leader) must draw on a subject/topic as per the classroom assignment. The other student (follower) guesses and tries to copy his(leader) drawing on a sheet of paper.
The follower should always be intriguing himself about what the drawing is supposed to show. After the pair completes the activity, have them switch their roles i.e. leader now becomes the follower. All this while, the follower must be able to mimic the steps of the leader and try to intercept what the drawing is about.
Pouring water using cups:
Provide each student with two cups and a source of water. Now instruct them to fill only one of them with water given. Next, tell them to pour the water from one cup to another back and forth. After doing it repeatedly, they will find a rhythm in pouring. After repeating this activity a few times, tell them to close their eyes and start pouring again.
Notice their attention level when they are pouring with their eyes closed. Observe if they can carefully and gently pour the water from one cup to the other with minimum to no spilling. At last, evaluate each student’s cup and see which student is able to retain the maximum amount of water in his/her cup at the end of the activity.
FOCUSED ATTENTION TECHNIQUES: PRIME THE BRAIN BY BLENDING CREATIVITY
Mindful breathing helps us rejuvenate our body’s energy and provide our minds with a sense of calmness. Practicing mindful breathing where students pay attention to their state of body and mind while breathing, is an effective way to prime the brain for calmness. All it requires is a minute or two to become peaceful.
Start with guiding students to inhale deeply as much as they can. While doing this, they should lift their arms over their heads and hold the breath for four seconds. When they exhale, they can gradually lower their hands to their normal position. It is worth noting that the movement of arms should be in harmony with the breathing pattern.
After doing this exercise for a couple of minutes, students can sit back and observe their surroundings. They can also feel how they experience now, their thoughts, body state, etc. Chances are after a quick session of mindful breathing they will feel more relaxed and calm.
Tracing the hand:
Give each student a color marker and a white paper. Then instruct them to trace their non-dominant hand without lifting it. They should do it as many times as they can while focusing on their breath. It is worth remembering here that the process should continue until they feel more relaxed.
Imagine swimming in the clouds:
When students perform an activity that involves their mind to be creative, they enjoy it more. This activity is based on this idea of blending creativity with real-life experience. For this, instruct students to lie on their tummy while moving their arms and legs. They should continue this step up to the breath count of five.
On the sixth breath, they should gradually pace down their arms to rest while still kicking their legs. Now, on the seventh breath, they should stop kicking as well and should lay completely still and at rest. At this point, they should imagine that the water is pulling them down or the clouds are attracting them upwards.
Tell them to imagine and feel the weightlessness like they are flying to their favorite place. They can imagine the colors they see, the fragrance they smell and the sounds they are hearing. All this while they should be aware of their breathing too.
A tree that stays strong:
This activity helps prime the brain for learning balancing and stability. It requires students to place both their feet on the ground and standstill. Next, they should gradually lift one of the legs while still keeping the other on the floor.
While doing this, they should also raise both of their hands above their hands as if the hands are the branches of a tree. They can swiftly move their hands in the air just like the branches dances in the sky.
Further, they can switch legs and repeat the same process. Next, tell them to imagine being a tree amidst a thunderstorm. Tell them that the tree stays on its place even when the branches are drifting because of the trunk (body). Even if they are unrelaxed a bit yet they are still standing strong.
Focusing on balance:
Instruct the students to form a circle and stand still on their legs. They should observe their breathing patterns and feel the contact between the underlying ground and their feet. Next, allow them to slowly raise one of their legs and keeping it off the ground while maintaining balance. Now tell them to be calm and relaxed.
They should lift their feet higher from the ground with each breath. Let them be aware of how their body synchronizes with the breath. Also, tell them to notice how high they can raise their legs without losing the stability of the body.
Give each student a piece of chewing gum and let them place it in their mouths. Instruct them not to chew it at all, rather just allow it to be in the mouth. Next, tell them to notice how the gum feels in their mouth, its taste, and its flavor. In the end, ask them to notice how they felt when they didn’t chew the gum.