“PROMOTING EARLY BRAIN &
MOTOR
DEVELOPMENT THROUGH
MOVEMENT”
January 7, 2012
Terri Lorentz
MA Early Childhood Special Education
Teacher/Educational Speech Clinician
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.
 “Rich
environments produce rich
brains” & an essential agent in this
process is movement activity. (Begley,
1997; Nash, 1997)
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 “unprogrammed” connections.
 Researchers
believe that to achieve a
mature brain, stimulation in the
form of movement and sensory
experiences is necessary. (Greenough &
Black, 1992; Shatz, 1992)
IMPLICATIONS FOR EARLY EDUCATORS
 Identification
of critical periods or
“Windows of Opportunity.”
 Motor
control
 Vision
 Language
 Feelings
 Etc.
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.
 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.
WHAT CAN WE DO
 Provide
children with lots of sensorymotor experiences, especially of the visual
motor variety. This includes activities
that integrate visual information with fine
and gross motor movements.
 Include
a variety of basic gross motor
activities that involve postural control,
coordination of movements, and
locomotion – crawling, creeping, body
rolling, and jumping.
 Combine
 The
movement and music.
combination of music and movement
presents an excellent learning medium for
young children.
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.
 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.
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.
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.
 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.
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.
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.
 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.
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.
 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.
 Early
childhood programs are finding that
movement is a very effective learning
medium for young children.
 Movement
activities stimulate problemsolving abilities, critical thinking, and
reinforce a variety of academic concepts.
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.

“BRAIN GYM INTERNATIONAL”
 “Play
& Learn: A preschool
curriculum for children of all
abilities” by Mary j. Sullivan Coleman OTR,
MA & Laura J. Krueger PT, MA
BRAIN RULES: 12 PRINCIPLES FOR
SURVIVING AND THRIVING AT WORK, HOME,
AND SCHOOL
 Questions
 How
asked:
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?
 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.
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.
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.
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.
 Why
praising “effort” is better than
praising “intelligence.”
 Why
the best predictor of academic
performance is not IQ; it’s self-control.
BRAIN GYM INTERNATIONAL
 Founded
in 1987 under the name of
Educational Kinesiology Foundation and
changed to Brain Gym International in
2000.
 Used
in over 87 countries and translated
in 40 languages.
 Based
on the principle that moving with
intention leads to optimal learning.
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.
 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
 Physical
coordination
 Relationships
 Self –responsibility
 Organization skills
 Attitude
 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.
THE 32ND SYMPOSIUM – INTERVENTION
FOR PERSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
 Thursday,
March 1 – Saturday, March 3,
2012 at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott
Hotel in Bloomington.
 Introduction
to Brain Gym – 8 hour
Session 8:30 – 6:00
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.
 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.

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!
KEY ELEMENTS IN A LEARNING
ENVIRONMENT
 Movement
and Music
 Structure and Repetition
 Motivation
 Social Interactions
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.
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.
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.
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.
SENSORY SYSTEMS
 We
all learn through our senses:
 Smell
 Sight
 Taste
 Hearing
 Tactile
 Vestibular
 Proprioception
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.
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.
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.
 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.
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.
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 AREAS
 Let’s
Paint and Create
 Let’s
Move
 Let’s
Read and Write
 Let’s
Play
LET’S PAINT AND CREATE
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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
LET’S MOVE
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.
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.
 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.
 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.
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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
LET’S PLAY
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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
•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.
 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.
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