OPEN PLAY: Play Lab June 4, 2017

Next and last Play Lab this Spring! 

June 4, 2017. 


Come and join us for an open session of play and art making. We will have our usual supply of recycled materials, but please bring in your own to use and share. Everyone can explore their own ideas during this session or collaborate with a fellow Play Labber and make something extraordinary!

LOCATION: 808 Union Street, Park Slope

TIME: 10 a.m. to Noon

FACILITATOR: Priscilla Shen



PARENTS: Drop off only

Participants: 4 kids maximum per Play Lab

Young learners can have difficulty tracking notes and taking them effectively during class lectures and in HW. Often times teachers assume the children know how to take notes. Here are some pointers:

  • Go over a note taking system with the child. For example, they might use an outlining format or they can use a Cornell System. Often teachers will have a way they’d prefer a child to take notes.
  • Preview the week’s lessons with the child. Ask the teacher to make the lesson topics available before the week begins. Then make sure the child has a big picture sense of what will happen. In this way, they can take more directed notes.
  • Teach the child to use acronyms/symbols to quicken notetaking: with = w/   about = abt   Any name can be abbreviated…etc.
  • Children often think they have to write mini essays when they take notes. Instead describe to them that the notes are only for their eyes and that the notes purpose is to recall ideas. The notes can look anyway they’d like as long as they are effective in helping recall.
  • Make sure the child can read their notes. Many times children stop using their notes for review or for writing papers because they have note developed an effective system yet or their handwriting is so messy they cannot read their own notes.
  • Sometimes students with special learning needs can use effective electronic organizers/apps to help. They can use diction software, they can use an iPad or laptop. Apps such as Evernote, Onenote, Google Keep, etc. are all excellent options for digital note-taking.



Please visit our services site for more information on executive functionign ADHD coaching:

RESEARCH NOTES: becoming an avid reader

In reading books, I’m curious about how early readers  mentally interact with the story details. For some learners reading is not fun and for many of these readers I find a common theme in that they don’t  see what’s happening in the story in their minds, visualizing what they read as if it’s a movie or as if their character sinside the story. This is often a skill that avid readers describe they do automatically. One practice might be to read to the child and ask him to put his feet in the character’s shoes — ie.  ask them questions such as: what would you do? what will happen next? how does X feel?

Kai Kleinbard is an executive functioning coach and Alexander Technique teacher in NYC: — for services supporting young learners in school


RESEARCH NOTES: linking Tai Chi Push hands and EF [executive functioning]


I was recently reading “Taichichuan Ching” by Chang San-Feng. He was describing how a practitioner studies the artof tai chi. One of his lines resonated with me: “By making a small mistake, you may go wrong by a thousand miles.” I often find in my tai chi practice, how one small mistake, such as angling my foot in a certain way, can disrupt my whole physical equilibrium. I might try for days to change other areas of my body as I do the form, however, without bringing the foot into the correct angle, I am stuck.

In working with children with executive functioning challenges, small mistakes can create major headaches. For example, a student might do incredible work writing an essay, however, she may forget to include her bibliography at the end. The teacher might then deduct 15 points, bringing her score from an A to a C. Small things can equate to big results. On the other hand, a student might write a mediocre paper, however, she makes sure to include all the requirements. She may get a better grade than the student that wrote the stunning paper. As an EF coach, my job is to help kids identify the little [but sometimes big] things that make major differences in their performance.


Kai [executive functioning and Alexander Technique coaching]

RESEARCH NOTES: staying focused even with the internet

One major challenge for the people I work with on executive functioning issues is the constant pull of the internet, especially social media: instagram, Facebook. Sometimes games and the random Google search that spirals out of control [until the next thing you know you’re looking up “what dog could live in outerspace” … OK.. well maybe that was just me…but…]

Here are some tips to help people stay on task:

  • Make access to the internet less easy. For example, do your work away from your devices if possible. Put the device on airplane mode
  • Put the apps that cause the most distractions in specific folders.  Label the folder “distractions” or “social media”
  • Use music without words to keep a reminder that it’s work time
  • Use the pomodoro technique: set a timer for 10-25 minutes, work straight through this time, then break for 5 min and again use the timer.
  • Use a focus app such as FOREST. The forest grows as long as you don’t exit the app and go onto another more distracting app.
  • Reward yourself after X amount of time working. For example, put out a ring of candies, for each 10 minute focus time grab a candy [maybe use grapes instead for the sake of your teeth:) ]

There are many more ways to stay focused.  Try different experiments and see what works for you — sometimes it might be about the environment – how about a cafe vs. library vs. dining table…. you’re your own experiment. What works for you will change each day and over time. Keep finding what works then teach others.



Kai Kleinbard
executive functioning coach and Alexander Technique teacher
director of bodyLITERATE and Institute for Playful Beings



pic-play-lab-may-7NEXT PLAY LAB!!!
May 7, 2017

Toys can’t walk on their own 🤔, so it is hard to get them to places where we can play. Come to the next Play Lab to make a traveling toy for the park, for a restaurant, or for a friend’s house. You may want to make an art set, a parking garage/city in a box, a kitchen set, or your own creation. We will be using traditional art supplies and recycled materials. Feel free to bring your own materials as well.

LOCATION: 808 Union Street, Park Slope
TIME: 10 a.m. to Noon
FACILITATOR: Priscilla Shen
PARENTS: Drop off only
Participants: 4 kids maximum per Play Lab

RESEARCH NOTES: using a back pillow to support upright sitting for children.

Encourage children to track their attention by being aware of how their sitting.

  • Have him sit more at the edge of chair.
  • Make sure his feet are on the ground.
  • Put a firm pillow behind him to help him sit upright.

We often tell children focus — but the question is how: Observe how the body supports focus!

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For more info on executive function coaching, visit


 RESEARCH NOTES: incorporating mindfulness breathing with kids – when to do it?
mindfulness process:
  • lie down or sit with feet on ground
  • put hands on belly
  • breath into your belly
  • feel your belly rise and fall
  • count 5 breaths or set a timer for 1 min

It’s a good question about how to incorporate mindfulness practices into a daily routine. One rule of thumb, is to practice doing it during moments of calm [eventually, you can weave it into stressful situations, but the child will be better able to learn it when they’re relaxed].

I would incorporate it whenever you can into your own life [in front of the child, so he sees when/how you do it].  You might comment to him, “I’m going to take a few breadths, to relax myself…” This might be great when you find yourself over-reacting – you might then explain to him you realize you’re very heated, and you’re going to take a moment to breath to calm down.  Then when you’re calm, he’ll experience how you’ve shifted, because you took that moment to pause.

Finding a time to belly breath with him is great [morning or night]. I know it’s hard during busy days for consistency; you can only do your best, it might now always happen! I would also find intermittent times to weave it in. You might even bargain with it…meaning, “Hey Lennie, you can play the video game, but first let’s do 5 breadths together…”

I also like to empower the children to take ownership by asking them to teach others the technique.  So you might ask your child to teach the belly breathing to grandpa, his aunt, etc.


Kai Kleinbard
executive functioning coach and Alexander Technique teacher
director of bodyLITERATE and Institute for Playful Beings

RESEARCH NOTES: Graphic Novels for kids
some great graphic novel ideas from my friend Rebecca!
As for graphic novels, let me tell you which ones are a big hit at my school.
Smile and Sisters are a huge hit and even though the protagonists are female, the boys at my school are drawn to them too –
The Amulet series is also very popular at my school but it’s a very different type of graphic novel than Tintin. It’s a dark story that starts with a father dying and a family being forced to move to an old haunted house –
I hope that helps!

for more information on EF coaching visit:

RESEARCH NOTES: helping kids sense time, write with more details and work with word problems

Some students run into ruts, because they don’t understand what the question is asking. Have them write an answer system that translates the question directly into an answer sentence.

For example:
How many total hats does the lady have? Would be translated into “The lady has ____ total hats.”

It will be helpful for the student to translate the question into his own words–he can practice this out loud when working with a parent.


On sensing time, I’d recommend getting an analog watch for the student to wear. Then, I’d use a larger analog watch near where he does HW, and wherever you need him to be aware of time [by the TV, in his room, etc.]. The reason for an analog watch [with minute, hour, second hands] is that it gives young people a volumetric sense of time — it shows time as a changing length. There are also special clocks for ADHD kids that push this idea: Timers to help kids sense -

Student that have difficulty editing their writing will have an easier time when it’s on the computer. I highly recommend encouraging him to write on a computer/tablet when possible. Or, after he hand-writes something, type it up for him on a computer, and then have Hayden edit it. He’s more open to editing his writing digitally, because it can be easy moved around.