Sane in the Membrane: Brain Empowering Activities

Grade Levels
6th - 8th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
90 pages
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Note: Some of my products have some “out there” ideas. Make sure to look at the preview before purchasing. Everyone's classroom is unique and while these lessons work within my classroom, that may not be the case in another’s room.

Research has demonstrated that the human brain does much better in the long term if it is exposed to activities such as brain teasers and logic puzzles.  In fact, research has shown some of the benefits regarding such activities:
•    Boosts brain activity
•    Provides emotional satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
•    Enhances memory and processing speed
•    Helps slow the decline and reduce the risk for dementia
•    Improves concentration

The human brain is no different than any other muscle in the human body. If an individual wants developed bicep muscles, they need to do arm curls with weights (i.e. an arm workout). Henceforth, if one wants to develop and maintain a healthy brain, it too must be allowed to exercise, which is the foundation of this guide.

Most of these activities are from the phenomenal video game, The Witness, by Jonathon Blow. He was gracious enough to email me and give me his permission to pursue this project. Another facet that works so well with this guide is that it "quietly" nudges a student's thinking process towards the STEM fields. In particular, with these activities, students must analyze, reason, solve, and interpret solutions to the puzzles they encounter.

The process I follow in my classroom for these activities is as follows:
After completing the brain warm up activities, I follow the provided routine:

→Complete one puzzle or analysis activity (page) per day. Since I utilize these as mini-lessons, it equates to about 10 minutes daily.
→Have the students complete the provided puzzle with a pen, pencil, or highlighter. MAKE SURE THEY TIME HOW LONG IT TAKES THEM!
→Show the students the solution in the embedded video clips (on my YouTube channel). As some of the videos show multiple puzzles, look to the correlating frame you’re on (top right) to see what time marker you can slide to, to view a particular solution.
→Have the students fill in whether they were correct or not.
→Finally, fill in the explanation/evidence prompt in the middle of the page.
→After completing an entire area (i.e. The Swamp), the students should fill in their “My Data” page.

★ See this used in my classroom below:!Witness-My-Students-Get-Smarter/cneux/5714fc6d0cf2b05e61f4132d

Included in the guide:
3 Terms of Use
4 Core Standards
5 About
6 Suggestions for Teaching
7 - 9 Warm Up 1 - Total Recall
10 - 13 Warm Up 2 - Map Mania
14 - 17 Warm Up 3 - Have “F”un
18 - 28 Entry Level Puzzles and Analysis
29 - 37 Orchard Area Puzzles and Analysis
38 - 46 Glass Factory Puzzles and Analysis
47 - 52 Symmetry Island Puzzles and Analysis
53 - 61 First Laser Puzzles and Analysis
62 - 67 Grass Maze Puzzles and Analysis
68 - 74 Tree Temple Puzzles and Analysis
75 - 87 The Swamp Puzzles and Analysis
88 Follow Up Analytical Question Responses
89 Culminating Data
90 References

So, have fun and get ready for some head scratching!

Note: The goal is not necessarily to get all the puzzles correct . . . you won’t. Regardless, the students are exercising their brains, and thereby reaping the benefits.

♦ For similar listings or items which work well with this one, please see below.

Link-Carried Off to Rapture - Analyzing Video Game Narrative

Link-Analytic Writing with Video Games

Link-Imaginative Writing Bell Ringers - 50 W.W.I.P Activities

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Total Pages
90 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
1 month
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


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