Activities from Braininsights' Deborah McNelis


CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK WAS May 1-7, and this article was posted in celebration of that.  Deborah McNelis, founder of Braininsights, granted me permission to reprint this fabulous article in its entirety.  Even though, children's MENTAL HEALTH WEEK has passed, at Kidlutions, we know that a child's mental health is something that needs to be supported and nurtured 365 days a year.  I adore Deborah's Brain Activity Packets, and wrote about them here.

Focus for 2011: BRAININSIGHTS: REAL Brain Development with Fun and Loving Activities

Here is the post, as it appeared on Braininsights:
The following list of activities are from braininsights activity packets. They were carefully chosen and put together as this valuable calendar by Nancy DeWitt, BS, FSP, Preparing Mentor.

Nancy is a wonderful woman I met while working with the community of Rhinelander, WI. This community is working together to create awareness and put in place services to support the optimal development of children's brains. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to these important efforts.

This calendar is something Nancy is hoping you will share with families in the hopes that parents will use these easy and practical ideas to promote mental health for all children.


LOVE YOUR BABY: (May 1-12)

1. While changing my clothes or diapers, take a minute and warmly and gently rub my back, arms and legs. Let me feel your warmth.

3. Notice what I like and respond to me. Try to tune in to the level of activity I seem to need. When I am more active, do a playful activity. When I seem calm, read a story or sing a lullaby to me.

6. Make up a song using my name to sing to me while you feed me.

8. While you are cooking or doing dishes, let me explore safe items you use. For example, a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, a plastic container, measuring spoons, etc

9. Realize how I love when you show excitement for my achievements.

FUN WHILE I’M ONE: (May 13-15)

13. While we are interacting throughout the day, give me kisses and loving hugs.

14. When I am lonely, scared or bored. I will let you know by crying. I need you to comfort me. I don’t know how to handle it on my own.

16. Create a winding down, calming bedtime routine for me. Things like taking a warm bath, reading a story to me and cuddling with me will help soothe me.


17. At a grocery store point to items: or while in a waiting room point to pictures in magazines. Ask me to name them.

18. Turn on the radio, sing a song or play a CD. Tell me to move to the music stops. Have me stop until the music starts again.

19. While dressing me, ask me what piece of clothing to put on next. Example, “Should I put on your jacket or shoes next?”


21. While grocery shopping, have me help you find the items you need. Example: Ask me to pick out the biggest or smallest item on the shelf.

23. Starting with breakfast everyday, develop daily routines for meals, naps, bath and bedtime. It is very important to have order in my life. I learn what to expect through a regular pattern which helps make me calmer.

24. While you are cooking, ask me to close my eyes and guess what you are doing by the sounds I hear. (Breaking eggs, pouring milk, running water, opening the microwave, and so on.


25. Find or save things for me to pretend with. Save food containers to play grocery store; line up chairs for a train or bus; set up combs or brushes, etc for a barber or beauty shop;, books and index cards to play library etc.

26. Make a game of putting laundry away. Give directions to follow. For example: Say, “Put the towels on the middle shelf in

the closet and hop back.” Use words like: under, below, on top and so on to help me learn where things belong.

27. Take me on a “listening walk”. While we are out walking have me listen and talk about all the sounds I hear. Ask, “Do you hear a bird, the wind, a car horn…..?


29. While folding the laundry tell me to try not to laugh as you do silly things. See if you can get me to laugh. Just start laughing. See how long it takes me to join in. It is contagious.

30. While playing catch with me outdoors, change the way we pass the ball. Count to 10 while we pass it. Now have me think of a new way to pass it 10 times. Take turns thinking of new ways to pass the ball.

31. Create a “giving jug”. Provide an empty milk container and a supply of pennies. Every time I do something nice or thoughtful for someone else, I get to add a penny. When the jug is full, help me use the money to donate to a cause we decide we want to support or help.


~ All braininsights activity packets are also available in Spanish!

(Connect with Deborah and Braininsights here.)


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