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

Toys can’t walk on their own ūü§Ē, 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!

img_20170215_101344 img_20170215_111024

For more info on executive function coaching, visit


 RESEARCH NOTES: incorporating mindfulness breathing with kids Рwhen 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!

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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.




RESEARCH NOTES: using quotations

RESEARCH NOTES: using quotations in Essay writing for early writers

In working with a number of students on writing, using quotations effectively can be challenging, Often students “plunk” the quotation directly into their paper without adequately giving context or analyzing the quotations.

quotation sandwich

When inserting s quotation into an essay it should have 3 parts: 1) Context 2)Quotation 3) Analysis

There are three parts to any quotation:
1) CONTEXT: introduce the quote, describing where it’s from and smoothly integrating the quotation into your essay.
2) QUOTATION: add in the quotation itself. Some teachers appreciate that the quotation flows directly from the student writing:

Blueberries are healthy. “A handful of blueberries have a as much vitamin C as 2 cups of Orange Juice” {NY TIMES}.

The body should integrate the quote into their paragraphs:

Blueberries are healthy; in fact, the NY TIMES reports that “a handful of blueberries” had “as much Vitamin C as 2 cups of orange juice” {NY TIMES}.

3) ANALYSIS: link the quotation back to the main topic of the essay.


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next play lab: THE HAT

Play lab: The HAT January 8, 2017play-lab-pic-small-size

Why do we use hats? Hats can be used for many purposes. They can protect our heads. They can be worn for special occasions. They also can be worn for fun. Let’s celebrate the New Year with your unique creations on a hat! Come and create a playful hat and parade it around for all to see! Each participant will be provided with a plain hat. Feel free to bring any items from home that can be added to your hat.

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Below are a few resources that you might look into

“Smart but Scattered”
-breakdown of executive functioning for children as well as some good tips

-great book on parents learn how to frame learning to their children

-great book on teaching children the power of grit/working hard on their challenges

“Delivered from Distraction”
-author is a renowned doctor. His view on ADHD is that it’s like a Ferrari that just needs a different kind of gas

For more information on Executive Functioning Coaching visit:

Play lab: Playfilled Design, December 4, 2016

Design and play go hand in hand.
They call for flexibility, and the process is key. Come and create a one of a kind design. Will you make a spy kit that can be strapped around your waist? Will you design a unique snack carrier that leaves your hands free for climbing the monkey bars? What do you want to design?

FACILITATOR: Priscilla Shen

LOCATION: 808 Union St., Park Slope
TIME: 10am – 12pm
PARENTS: Drop off only
PARTICIPANTS: 5 kids maximum per Play Lab
MORE INFORMATION: about Play Lab and the Institute for Playful Beings []


RESEARCH NOTES: Motivating students by connecting to what is alive in them

For students with attention issues, along with being on the autisitic spectrum, I have found that they often struggle to self-motivate for tasks that their is not an immediate interest in. I find that they respond to objective and tangible goals. When you ask a student with difficulty motivating to “get good grades” there is often a lack of follow-through. The idea of “good grades” is hard for him to motivate towards, because it’s complex and subjective (requiring many components, and depends on the person asked).

What is alive in the student? Motivate him by focusing on his interests and [parents] link this to your goals. The amazing thing about most young learners is their passion for things like trains, video games, comics, music, etc.. One 8th-grader I recently worked with (with ADHD, and a hard time self-motivating towards improving his grades) became excited when we began talking about his ideal HS. He introduced me to a specific HS he had already done research on (on his own!) and described how he would flourish in an environment that offered real world opportunities and more singular project-based work (rather than busy work). Parents can PIVOT this towards their goals of good grades by reviewing with the student what it will take to get into the school. Have him visit HS and even colleges so that he can tangibly experience the excitement of his next journey. This will make the idea of “good grades” more objective for him, giving him tangible experiences why they’re important.

Emotionally, many of these students have a negative outlook on themselves. For example, the above 8th grader says he’s lazy and unmotivated. I found that when I focused on the negative, this student pushed back and I get little done. When I point out positives, link into his interests, and offer objective solutions (such as emailing teachers), he engages.

This will be a process for a student with academic motivation issues:

  1. If he has ADHD: this means that developmentally, certain cognitive skills such as goal-directed persistence will be years behind his peers.
  2. He needs to build rapport with whomever he works with; get to know him and use the student’s deep set of interests to pivot towards greater goals [such as the one’s you as parents or educators aim towards]
  3. Take your time. There’s both a developmental layer to this (his brain is still maturing) and an emotional layer, where his self-esteem is wrapped in his academic work and he lashes out when people (especially parents) ask him to be responsible.
  4. Broaden your HS search. Try more project based HS. In NYC, some of these high-school’s might be: Museum School, School of the Physical City, Urban Academy, to name a few. Visit them, review their admission requirements and get the student excited, making him feel how much this is in his hands.

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