Brain Games for "Remember Power": A Set of SEL Kernels Practices

Introduce students to “Remember Power”–the ability to keep track of, update, and use information over short periods of time–and then choose a “Remember Power” game to help them develop these skills.

Level: PreK/Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School
Duration: ≤ 15 minutes
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Planning For It

Why Do This?

  • If students practice and build executive function skills, they can organize their thinking and behavior to meet goals in order to engage deeply in learning with each other.

 

When You Might Use This Practice

  • Integrated into daily schedules as a routine or used as-needed throughout the day
  • During a designated SEL block of 10-15 minutes per day for Kernels practice or as time allows
  • During a morning meeting, a middle school advisory period, class transitions, after recess, or at the end of the day

 

Time Required

  • ≤ 15 minutes

 

Materials

 

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Practice keeping track of, updating, and using information over short periods of time

 

Additional Supports

 

SEL Competencies

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills

How To Do It

Reflection Before the Practice

How well do you remember the multiple things you need to do? What strategies and practices help you to develop your working memory (e.g, making a written list, repeating the information out loud)?

Note: Click here to download and print a card version of this practice that can be added to the other Brain Games practices to make an easy-to-use hand-held collection. See the SEL Kernels pack for additional activities.

 

The Big Idea

  • Playing Brain Games helps us to build our “brain powers,” or executive function (EF) skills.
  • Executive function (EF) skills are the mental processes required to focus, plan, and control behavioral responses in order to reach a goal.
  • They’re important because… They help students to listen carefully, follow directions, use self-control, and think flexibly. These basic skills are foundational for academic achievement, interpersonal skills, perseverance, and critical thinking.

 

Three Brain Powers

  • Focus: The ability to sustain attention and ignore distractions when needed.
  • Remember: The ability to keep track of, update, and use information over short periods of time.
  • Stop and Think: The ability to control impulses and to “think before you act.”

 

Instructions

  • Introduce THE BIG IDEA (above) and define “executive function skills” and their importance, as necessary.
  • Explain that the brain has three powers: Focus, Remember, and Stop and Think. Tell students:
    • Today we’re going to talk about Remember Power (see “Three Brain Powers” above for a definition).
  • Share the following information about REMEMBER POWER:
    • WHAT IS WORKING MEMORY?
      • The ability to keep track of, update, and use information over short periods of time.
    • WHY REMEMBER IS IMPORTANT:
      • It helps students to remember directions, follow steps in the correct order, and keep track of multiple things at the same time. It helps students to plan and work towards goals over time. Remember Power also helps students (and adults) to multi-task and keep track of multiple goals, tasks, or items at once.
    • THINGS THAT HELP US REMEMBER:
      • Repeating the information aloud after I hear it.
      • Picturing something in my mind (e.g., imagine the things I need to bring to school, imagine what I need to do when I first get to my classroom in the morning, imagine the steps to accomplish a goal).
      • Making up a song about what I need to remember and singing it many times (aloud or silently in my mind).
      • Drawing a picture or making a list of things I need to do.
  • INTRODUCE THE HAND SIGNAL:
    • Rub your temples (sides of forehead) to let students know when you want them to remember something important.
  • WHEN DO WE USE REMEMBER POWER?
    • When I am getting ready for school and I need to remember a list of things to bring with me.
    • When I take a break from reading, or get interrupted from something, and I want to remember my place (in a song, or recipe).
    • When I need to remember a set of instructions from the teacher, like during clean up or getting ready for the next activity.
  • Play one or more of the following REMEMBER POWER GAMES:

 

Source

This practice is part of the SEL Kernels project developed by the EASEL Lab at Harvard University.

Reflection After the Practice

Do you observe changes in your students’ ability to remember directions or goals over time? Which games are more challenging for students? Which games are easiest for them? Why?

The Research Behind It

Evidence That It Works

Children who are able to effectively manage their thinking, attention, and behavior are also more likely to have better grades and higher standardized test scores.

 

Why Does It Matter?

Children use cognitive regulation skills whenever faced with tasks that require concentration, planning, problem solving, coordination, conscious choices among alternatives, or overriding a strong internal or external desire—all key skills for behavioral and academic success.

These skills enable children to prioritize and sequence behavior (e.g., put their pants on before their shoes), inhibit dominant or familiar responses in favor of a more appropriate one (e.g., raise their hand rather than blurt out the answer), maintain task-relevant information in mind (e.g., remember the teacher’s request to wash hands and then put coats on before going outside), resist distractions, switch between task goals, use information to make decisions, and create abstract rules and handle novel situations.

“To observe attentively is to remember distinctly.”
–Edgar Allan Poe