Planning For It

Why Do This?

  • Remember Power 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.


When You Might Use This Practice

  • Integrated into a daily or weekly schedule as a routine
  • During a designated SEL block of 10-15 minutes per day for Kernels practice or as time allows
  • During a morning meeting, a transition, after recess, or at the end of the day
  • Throughout the school year to create a supportive classroom community


Time Required

  • ≤ 15 minutes



  • None


Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Practice memory and attention


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)?
  • Take a few minutes to read the “Remember Power” practice before introducing the game.

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 and easy-to-use hand-held collection. See the SEL Kernels pack for additional activities.


The Big Idea

  • This game is about remembering what motions accompany each phrase, and doing them correctly and quickly.



  • Introduce Remember Power to students, if necessary.
  • Say the Big Idea (see above).
  • Introduce the game, and review directions with students before getting started. Here is the list of phrases and accompanying motions:
    • “Swab the deck” — Pretend you are sweeping with a broom
    • “Port” — Run to the left
    • “Starboard” — Run to the right
    • “Bow” — Run forward
    • “Stern” — Run backward
    • “Jellyfish” — Lay down on the floor on your back, jiggle your arms and legs
    • “First mate” — Pretend to steer a wheel by holding hands out front
    • “Seasick” — Pretend to get sick to your stomach
    • “Stormy weather” — Rock from side to side standing
    • “Life jacket”* — 2 people link arms back to back
    • “Captain’s ball”* — 2 people link one arm and dance around in a circle
    • “Mealtime”* — 1 person makes a table by getting on their hands and knees, and 2 other people sit across from each other and pretend to scoop food into their mouths
    • “Rowboat”* — 4 people sit in a link with their knees up and pretend to row
    • “Starfish”* — 5 people link arms and form a circle, with each person bending one leg at the knee so their five legs spread out like a starfish
  • As you call out directions, students will be out of the game if they don’t follow them or do them quickly enough.
  • For some directions (*marked with an asterisk), students will have to form a group and work with others. If they don’t form a group, they will also be out of the game.
  • The game is played until two people are left standing.
  • Teachers or students can lead the game.

Must do

  • Must require students to remember specific movements associated with specific phrases.

Can adapt

  • Change the commands and/or the accompanying motions.

After the activity, debrief

  • Was Shipwreck easy or hard to play? Were some directions easier/harder to follow than others (e.g., group tasks)?
  • What skills did you use to play Shipwreck? Did you use any tricks to help you remember your actions? Did you use any strategies to form a group and work together?
  • For more debriefing questions, see Brain Games Practice.

Tips for success

  • For students who may need additional support, start with three directions only. Provide visuals for each direction, if possible.
  • Incorporate academic content into this game by creating different themes from your lessons, such as the different stages of a butterfly (e.g., when you call out “egg,” students have to crouch down into a ball; when you call out “chrysalis,” students have to curve their bodies like a chrysalis.)



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

Reflection After the Practice

  • Do you notice students’ ability to remember improving?

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.

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
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