Years ago I went to a CAMT conference and saw these little growing brains. Since then, I've had one in my classroom. On the first day of school, I tell the kids that the brain is so small because it hasn't been doing anything over the summer. It hasn't read, solved math problems, it's just been having fun and hanging out...
I put the brain in a clear container and add water to it. I tell them that the water is all the learning we do in first grade. Anytime we are working hard, our brain gets bigger. They are fascinated with that brain in a jar- it's kind of gross-I guess that's why they like it!
Over Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, I take the brain out of the water and we talk about how it has gotten smaller over the break. My hope is that they will remember this analogy over the summer break and remember to read! I also use the brain as a reference during the year, "Make sure you're busy so your brain doesn't shrink..." They look over at that brain-in-a-jar and get back to work!
The brain will grow pretty big- it has always grown to touch the sides of this container:
I’ll post some pictures as our brain gets bigger this fall! Click here to get a growing brain from Amazon.