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Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

Last updated Sunday, April 2, 2023

Author: JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Sarah Ackerley
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 0982993803
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2023

Synopsis: Did you know you can stretch and grow your own brain? Or that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain learns? Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It teaches all the ways that the brain can develop with exercise, just like the rest of our bodies.

Educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak offers a fun and engaging introduction to the anatomy and functions of the brain that will empower each young reader to S-T-R-E-T-C-H and grow their fantastic, elastic brain!

Note to readers:
•  There are a lot of scientific words, and you should practice the pronunciation in advance, but don’t get too hung up on learning those. Focus on what the brain does.
•  There is a little owl and/or mouse on every page commenting on the book. The kids like to find things like that, and their side dialog can lighten up the material.
•  Read the final pages for yourself in advance and use the info for discussion. You don’t need to read those to the kids.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Explain that elastic brain means stretching, but that doesn’t mean it gets physically bigger or changes shape. It can be changed, improved, made stronger.
•  Your brain makes you unique. Think about what you like, what you’re good at, what you believe. That’s in your brain, making you, you.
•  How do people get better at something? They learn new skills and practice.
•  Let’s learn how to help your brain work really well and get stronger.


•  Elastic: stretchable, like a rubber band (or like your imagination)
•  Organ: a part of the body that has a specific job, like the brain, heart or stomach (shown in the illustration)
•  Cerebrum: the part that helps you think and speak
•  Cerebellum: the part that help you use your muscles
•  Prefrontal cortex: the part that helps you make decisions
•  Hippocampus: the part that helps you remember things
•  Amygdala: that part that controls emotions
•  Emotions: feelings like happy, angry, scared
•  Neurons: send the messages from the brain to your body
•  Decade: ten years (the “magic decade” is the first 10 years of your life)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is something you’re really good at? How did you get better? Is there something else you want to learn to do? How could you get better?
•  Who knows how to play a sport? Who can play a musical instrument?
•  Why is it ok, and even good, to make mistakes?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a self-portrait surrounded by pictures of what makes you unique.
•  Divide a paper in half. On one side, list/draw things you can do. On the other, list/draw things you want to learn.
•  Earth Day is April 22nd. Make a flyer or a poster. See ideas and suggestions on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/april-2023-the-wonders-of-science-technology/earth-day-posterscards/

Special activities:
•  Go around the group and ask one question that each child can answer. What’s your favorite food, favorite color, a sport they like, etc. Everyone is different.
•  Think of some things you can’t do YET but want to try. How can you learn to do that? It could be something like a sport, singing, drawing, or something small like hopping on one foot or whistling.
•  Encourage the students to ask their family to visit the California Science Center in Exposition Park. It’s free! And the metro stops right there. They can learn about all kinds of science – their body, space, animals, technology... https://californiasciencecenter.org

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!