'How to Train your Dragon’ is all about controlling our emotions, understanding where they come from in the brain and what we can do about it. It provides an accessible introduction to the brain for younger learners, and depicts the amygdala (the brain’s emotional centre) as a dragon that we need to tame!
We have found this incredibly useful across a range of year groups - EYFS/KS1/KS2. While it can seem intimidating to introduce neuroscience to young children, when it’s pitched correctly it can have enormous impact. A genuine quote from a 5 year old in my class last year: “I went on a rollercoaster at the weekend with my dad and I was feeling really scared, but then I remembered that I just had to give my prefrontal cortex some time to think and I felt much better!”
The presentation covers several topics and as such can be spread over several lessons and built upon, or taught in one. It includes:
*An introduction to the brain and 3 key players within it, depicted as characters to engage young learners. Meet PC Prefrontal Cortex, Hippocampus the memory saver, and Amygdala the dragon!
*An understanding of why it’s so important to keep our brains and bodies healthy – eating healthily, exercising and getting enough sleep – as well as a reminder to wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, to protect our brains.
*Interactive slides for discussion, e.g. How do you feel when… you’re playing with your friends/you hear a big bang at night/you’re riding a rollercoaster etc., and an understanding that all these emotions come from the amygdala (your dragon!)
*Some ideas of how to calm down, consistent with a mindfulness approach (deep breathing, counting to 10 etc.) A discussion of why it’s so important to talk about our feelings.
The key message is that if we show ‘Amygdala the dragon’ how to calm down and wait before acting out, we will give PC Prefrontal Cortex and Hippocampus enough time to come to the rescue, and help us to feel better.
I hope you find it as beneficial as we have!