Brain-based Learning Strategies

Brain-based learning strategies are about teaching in the way the brain learns. Continue reading for Tips, Facts, & Strategies about how to incorporate Brain Based Strategies into your next therapy session and watch videos demonstrating our 4 favorite techniques.

We have used these strategies in therapy and have seen that they work to improve children’s engagement in the activities (therefore improving their focus and ability to learn), retention of story elements, ability to learn new vocabulary, and just enjoy therapy more!

Goals at the Beginning of a Session Video

Syllable Slap

Instruct one child to put her palms up and another child to lightly slap the other child’s palms, 1 time per syllable, while both practice saying the target word.

Reenact a Story

Have the children reenact the story, acting out the different characters and action words from the story (e.g. heaved, pulled, find).

Story Grammar Jump

Print off the visuals for the different story elements. Lay them out on the floor (like a hopscotch board) OR draw the story grammar elements on butcher paper as a group. Have each child jump from 1 story grammar element to the next and explain each one.


Music is a core component of brain-based learning due to direct access to the auditory cortex and inclusion of movement. Play calming or upbeat music (depending on your children) and do one of the following activities:

  • Move to a different corner of the room
  • Pass a ball
  • Play musical chairs

When the music stops, have the child in a certain corner/ with the ball/left standing, do the desired task. Some ideas include:

  • Explain 1 story grammar element to the group
  • Describe a story event
  • Describe the size or color of an animal from the story
  • Answer a wh- question
  • Produce 10-20 productions of an articulation target
  • Etc. Use your creativity!


Hand a child one picture and have them jump across the room to add the picture to the activity being completed. Continue until the activity is complete. This strategy is great for:

  • Puzzle
  • Sequencing
  • Color matching

Gross motor movements

Any kinesthetic movement increases the positive effects of brain-based learning.  Have children jump, clap, give high fives or any other fun gross motor movement to correspond with the number of animals, number of syllables in a word, number of words in a sentence, or produce an articulation target.

Big/Small body movements

When describing the animals, sing and have the children extend or retract their arms to indicate the size of the animal (Ex. “The (animal) is smaller than the (other animal).”).

Story songs:

Story Grammar “Rap”: Use a chant/song for each story grammar element to help your child remember each element’s meaning.

Sing a Story Song

Sing the story song along with sequencing cards for visual support. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the children are signing the song independently.

Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning: The new science of teaching and training. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Scaddan, M.A. (2009). 40 engaging brain-based tools for the classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Bladyes Madigan, J. (2009). Action Based Learning: Building Better Brains through Movement. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
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