A Flexible Brain

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.

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7 Comments

  1. Jenna

    Hi there! I’d love to use this photo and link back to your website on a current post I’m writing. Would that be ok?! I couldn’t find your email on the site anywhere. Thanks, Jenna speechroomnews@gmail.com

    • Yes, you can do that.

  2. Shira Reiss

    So, after you make this jello mold, how do you use it at school? Did you try a picture of the brain and just attach the papers to the different areas? Do you make the jello mold ecause these autistic kids are so visual? Also, before I spend my own money on a social skills program for 2 of my students at work who are autistic, which program do you suggest?
    PS. I believe I am connected to your blog through facebook.

    • I suppose you could use a picture of a brain and attach the papers to it but I don’t think you would get the same interest level. I did it more for the motor aspect of taking the papers out carefully with tweezers and really thinking about how their brains worked. It was really successful with my students who were higher functioning Aspergers who didn’t hesitate to tell me when things were boring and then check their brains out from an activity.
      I was surprised it actually made it through groups in two different schools. I slipped it back in the mold and the refrigerator when I wasn’t using it. I presented it to some of my students with learning disabilities as well as autism. I felt it was money well spent even though it was out of my pocket too. Evaporated milk and jello don’t cost that much. I was fortunate to borrow a brain mold so I didn’t have that expense. It is reusable though. You may be able to pick up one cheaply in the after Halloween sales.
      I really like the Michelle Winner materials. If you have a chance to go to one of her conferences you will find you have a different out look on how to teach social skills. Her information covers a wide range of skill levels across ages and can be used in a lot of different settings. You can see how people are using it by searching through pinterest.

      • I forgot to say the most important part of the jello brain lesson. It emphasizes being flexible. The whole point of a flexible brain is to bend and adapt to the situation and people around you and not to be rigid. A paper brain doesn’t illustrate flexible as well. I have found that a lot of my students do not know what being flexible means.

  3. Sharon

    I’m doing this tomorrow! although- we invited the principals to come help us eat our flexible brain. We are wrapping up our SuperFlex unit, we did “Social Detective” and then Rock Brain and Glass Man. I might buy “Destroyer of Fun” for one specific student–I have purchased the books with my own money, one at a time, and I feel it is worth it as I will be able to use it for years to come, and the boys (grades 3-6) that I work with have really started internalizing the concepts and vocabulary used in the program. They are using the words and strategies in the classroom when I am not there, and even at home! I am making the Jello as a language activity on Wednesday, and we’re going to have a party on Thursday, (except, probably the sensory-challenged among us won’t REALLY eat the jiggly wiggly brain…)

    • I have to say that we have not ever actually ate the recipe on here. After sticking the papers in and probing with tweezers for the activity it doesn’t look as appetizing. Eating a brain should be something they all remember and a good test for flexibility. This is my 3rd year using the books and I feel it is working also.

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