PPBF: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

Another PPBF, another winner!
Introducing ... 
Title: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain
Author: JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Sarah Ackerley
Publisher: Little Pickle Press
Date: December 13, 2010
Suitable for: ages preK-third
Themes: How the brain works, mindset, self-control
Brief synopsis: This book explains in concrete, easy-to-understand ways exactly what the brain really does and how it really works.
Opening pages: What does your BRAIN really do? Does it fill the space between your ears? Well yes ... but your brain can do so much more!


Read a review at Engage Their Minds blog {here}.
Download lesson plans from the publisher {here}.
Learn more about the brain from Dr. Medina's Brain Rules {here}.
Use ideas from my Brain Breaks Pinterest page {here}.
Watch the book's trailer on You Tube.

Why I like this book:
Knowledge is power, so why wouldn't we want to know how our brain works and what it needs to stretch and grow and do its best job? I can totally see using this with a mindset lesson or just as a resource for self-exploration and regulation.

A few years back, we had a Conscious Discipline training and I became so intrigued by the brain and how it works. Here's a peek at some of my notes:

How is the brain like a pharmacy?
A brain cell - neurons
*if chemicals in the brain are balanced, neurons are working 
*enrichment changes brain cell structure, brain makes more connections
*stresses at home can cause brain to not function as well - academic or behavior

The brain stem is all about survival.
*brain needs to know it is safe -- developmental need is safety
*Children that are living in their brain stem (needing safety)
                  ~throw fits
                  ~shut down
Survival Skills that you will see when someone is ‘in their brain stem’ in need of the safety:
         Fight - hit, kick, push, physical aggression
         Flight - withdraw, hide, run, scream
         Fool - deceive, lie
         Freeze - they will not be able to respond

What we don’t want to do is react the same way they do!

When they stumble, stand by them, encourage them, have other students in the class encourage them. Children will mirror back to you your mood, your behavior, your look. They need a connection - handshake, knuckle bump. Ask yourself: Is it attention or connection that students want?

If limbic - (child is whiney, complaining) - child needs choices.
If brain stem - child needs assertive command or silence.
Best exercise for the brain is physical exercise - get more blood to the brain. The brain is pattern-seeking and is survival-oriented. - what are the homes of our children like, chaotic or organized?
**Connections on the outside with other people make neural connections on the inside through touch, eye contact and presence.  
Cortico-limbic Connections        
         *Cortex (cortex overrides limbic system) -- reason, logic
         *Limbic System (limbic system overrides brain stem) -- emotion, memory
         *Brain Stem -- survival, fight or flight
Self-control is the process of guiding yourself from the lower centers of your brains to the higher centers of the brains so that you may learn. Discipline is the process of guiding children from the lower centers of their brain to the higher centers of their brains.

What do I do when a child is in their brain stem?
         1. give the child an opportunity to cool off
         2. support the child with the de-stressing strategies
         3. model stepping back and taking time to breathe
         4. do not attempt to teach

When they move to the cortex, Teach!
~A child will learn best after the crisis is over and there has been time for the stress chemicals to drain out of their system
~Practice desired skill first. Sometimes it will take a lot of practice.
~Consequences may be imposed later if the child does not learn the skill through practice.

Are you intrigued yet? Check out this book and prepare to be AmAzEd by Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. Then head over to Susanna's blog for more PPBF picks.


  1. Fantastic choice! This sounds thoroughly interesting and entertaining . . . and I was in the mood for some NF. Thanks.

    1. I'm glad I could pique your interest in a new NF title, Joanne! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I just ordered this book to use with our metacognition unit starting soon! Glad to hear a review on it from another counselor's perspective!

    1. Hey Jenn - I predict that your students will love it. Even fourth and fifth could find something of interest, I'll bet.

  3. I've pinned both the picture book and Conscious Discipline. Both look like great resources. Thank you Barbara.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Thanks for coming by and for the pins, Tammy. I think your students would LOVE this book!

  4. I really love this book. I want it. I am into brain plasticity and this book explains what parts of the brain deal with behavior in such an easy way. All teachers and parents should read this book. It would help them understand what is going on with a child.Older kids would find this book fascinating too.

    1. I agree, Pat, that we could all benefit from what is going on chemically with us and our brain functions. And you're spot on about older kids finding it intriguing as well. Thanks for your reflections.

  5. Fascinating reading! I am on the hunt for this book now!

    1. You won't be sorry Wendy. It's a keeper!

  6. Great title and I love the ethos behind and books published by Little Pickle Press!

    1. Yes, Joanna, I'd have to say that the few Little Pickle Press books I know about are all top-notch. I appreciate you stopping by today.

  7. My almost eight-year-old has been watching the show, BRAIN GAMES. It's so much fun to learn about how the brain works. Cool book for younger readers.

    1. The brain is fascinating stuff, that's for sure! Thank you for coming by; I'll have to check out that show.

  8. What a fascinating topic for kids . . .especially when it is well done!

  9. Sometimes I do "tai chi for the brain" demos at our school... some teachers found that kids who did tai chi before math class remembered what they learned. Movement helps memory & stimulates new neural pathways.

    1. I once heard neural pathways described like the grooves in a record ... remember 33s and 45s? Sooooo interesting and amazing! "Tai chi for the brain" sounds cool.

  10. Great choice, Barbara! This book sounds really interesting! Love the title :) Thanks so much for adding it to our list!

    1. It totally belongs on our list ... one of my top NF books ever! Thank you as always, Susanna, for hosting PPBF and maintaining that phenomenal list.

  11. I love that Conscious Discipline is founded on brain research....it helps to make sense of a child's behavior when you know what part of the brain they are functioning from. I also love Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. I got my copy from a Scholastic Book Club order for $3 and it's worth every penny!

    1. WoW ... you found it for $3? Thanks for telling us and for stopping by. Hope all's well in Montana, Tanya!

  12. This sounds pretty interesting indeed!

  13. Looking for a copy of this one. Thanks!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

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