Category Archives: Executive Function

Game for Working Memory Skills – Suitcase Send Off


Suitcase Send off cover picSuitcase Send-Off game iinstructions

Happy Summer everyone!  I created a game that you can use to help students/clients work on improving their working memory skills.   The game will require a small amount of cutting/laminating on your part to put it together, and you will need to get 4 large size Altoid tins.

Players work on retaining and recalling information of up to 4 parts while using both visual and verbal prompts for recall.  The goal of the game is to pack 4 suitcases with an outfit for each season of the year.  Players need to remember which items have already been placed in each suitcase as the game progresses.   The game is best suited for 2-4 players between the ages of 6-12. Instructions and photos of the game set-up are included in the PDF file below.



Download the materials FREE here:  Suitcase Send Off Working Memory Game

Enjoy!  Jill

Student Log to get baseline of time management needs after school


After school time log

Quick post as a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the Time Management powerpoint for kids….   Here is a log that I have used with students to get an idea of how they are currently managing their time after school….  It’s nothing fancy that you couldn’t quickly create yourself….but why make more work for yourself?

Get it here:  Weekly After School Time Log

– Jill 🙂

Time Management PowerPoint for Kids


Time Management PPt slides screenshot

Hello all – I wanted to share a short PowerPoint I put together to introduce kids to the concept of “Time Management”.   You might use this as an introduction to a unit about executive function skills, perhaps in a study skills class, or even in a life skills class for middle/early high school age kids.  There are 10 slides in PowerPoint.   Slides 1-5 are the presentation slides defining time management at school and home, and slides 6-10 are meant to be printed off in a full-page format, stapled together and presented to the students as a tool to take “notes” on as you go through the initial slides.

Download the tool here:  Time Management ppt for Kids

Enjoy! – Jill

Distracter Blasters!


As I mentioned in my previous post, many of my 4th and 5th grade students have been learning about managing their Attention and Focus skills.  In this post, I am sharing a resource I created to help students learn about ways to manage these distractions – I call them “DISTRACTER BLASTERS!”  In order to create even more excitment about these tools, we used one of those fun, stomp-air-rocket toys, where you stomp on a pedal and a rocket shoots out.  I borrowed one from my friendly OT, and used one that looks like this:

stomp rocket

I created some pictures of various ideas for “Inside the Brain” Distracter Blasters, and “Outside the Brain” Distracto\er Blasters.  I spread the pictures out on the floor. As each child chose a picture, they described how the tool could be used to improve their attention, and what “kind” of Distracter type it would work for.  Then, they got to count down 5 to 1 and proclaim “Distracter Blaster!!!”  as they stomped on the air rocket (hoping to not injure a ceiling tile in my classroom).

Here are the Distracter Blasters:

Distractor Blasters pic

Here is a link to the document:    Distractor Blasters

Have a great time Blasting Off with your students!  Watch the next post for a Self-Monitoring sheet for kids to determine if using a particular Distracter Blaster works for them.

Best wishes… Jill

Teaching Kids about Distractions


Lately I have worked quite a bit with my elementary students to teach them about how to improve their Attention & Focus skills.    I have focused on my 4th and 5th grade students – and this has been quite the under-taking!

Like all skills, I wanted to help my students understand what distracters were – then progress toward having them identify what kinds of distracters may be more prevalent for them individually.   I taught them about outside the brain distracters” – environmental influences on their learning,  and “inside the brain distracters” – cognitive or emotional influences on attention to learning.

We have done several activities surrounding this topic.  Here, I am posting a document with 3 parts:  1)  Definition of the Types of Distracters, 2) a self-reflection sheet for kids to identify which specific elements may influence their ability to attend, and 3)  some game cards to discriminate between “inside the brain” and “outside the brain” distracters.  The link is at the end of this blog post.

First, we explored the definitions of these two distracter types, with page 1 of the linked attachment.  We talked about examples from each category, and brainstormed our own examples.

Distractor types

Then, I enlisted the help of a much-loved game in my classroom, “What’s in Ned’s Head.”  If you are not familiar with this game – there are countless uses!  Here is a link to the game on Amazon: 

We used this game to discriminate between the distracter types.  Here is how my Ned’s head looked as we explored our Distracter Types:

Neds Head

On the file attached below, you will see that on the 3rd page, you cut out the Distracter examples, and if the example is an “inside the brain” distracter, the kids shove that little paper right into Ned’s nostril or ear!  If it is an “outside the brain” example, we taped it right to the outside of his head.  This was a ton of fun for the kids!

Example slips

Finally, we used the 2nd page of the attachment for each student to think about what specifically distracts them at school.  I also asked each child to take this sheet home and ask their parent(s) and siblings in their home what are some “inside” and “outside” distracters that impact them at work, school, etc.

Distractor Self Application

So-  here is a link to the full PDF document:  Distractor Types

In an upcoming post, I will share some ideas to teach kids about “Distracter Blasters!”  Best wishes…. Jill

New Workshop for 2012-2013: Executive Function Skills!


Hey all – I have been researching, reading, writing, and working on my newest workshop.  Here it is:

NEW!  Facing the Frontal Lobe:  Strategies to Support Executive Function Skills in Students with Planning, Organization, Emotional Control, Working Memory and Attention Needs.  (6.5 hours)

Executive function skills have come to the forefront in the world of education.  Recent research suggests a strong correlation between students’ executive functioning their academic success.  It also has been noted that deficits in executive functioning results in difficulty with organization, time management and task completion, problem solving, on-task behaviors and social interactions.

Participants in the workshop will explore the impact of Executive Functioning on student learning and social interaction.  The workshop is designed for all educators as attention is given to those skills needed by kindergarten through middle school students to be successful in a general and special education classroom.  Participants will learn about the five domains of cognitive skills and will be given resource ideas and strategies that are designed to support strong cognitive skills in students.  The strategies presented focus on skills that promote effective organization and time management, task completion, independent work, student goal setting and accountability.  Additionally, the intervention ideas also provide a foundation to assist student self-monitoring, impulse control and emotional management.    Jill is widely known for her energetic presentation style and for providing teaching ideas that are user-friendly and immediately applicable in the classroom.

If interested in checking my calendar for a workshop for your group, check out the tab on this site called, Jill’s Presentations. 

Teaching Kids about Change – Using the 5 Point Scale


Good evening everyone!  I wanted to share a couple of more resources I have used when teaching kids about Handling Change!.  You may have seen a recent post with a PowerPoint lesson for kids I shared called, “A Kid’s Guide to Understanding and Handling Change.”  In these new resources, I use the fabulous 5 Point Scale (Kari Dunn-Buron & Mitzi Curtis –  

The 5 Point Scale is  a wonderful tool I incorporated to this topic to help kids understand what “SIZE” of a change they might be facing.  This tool helps kids “quantify” and compartmentalize what might constitute a small change versus a bigger, life-altering change.  Remember, many kids with social/emotional challenges have difficulty seeing the “grays”, and the exceptions to the rule.  They are “all-or-none” folks.  These kids perceive situations and feelings as exaggerated and “huge or intense” much of the time.  Many times they need a concrete, visual tool that breaks down information in a way that they can process. 

There are two documents here:

1) A worksheet to help kids think about what “Expected” Changes they encounter, versus “Unexpected Changes”.

Click here:  Change Worksheet 

2)  A two-page document using the 5 Point Scale.  The first page has a graph of the 5 Point Scale and some operational definitions of each SIZE of change, with some examples.   There is a section for kids to record some of their own personal examples for each size.  The second page is a page with just the definitions.  Now, keep in mind that I have kind of systematically tried to “define” each type of change.  Of course, these definitions are not written in stone, nor are they the Gospel.  But, I wanted to provide something concrete for my students to wrap their heads around.

Click here:  Change 5 Pt Scale

When CHANGES occur in your classroom, or even for book characters, read aloud characters, etc – stop and take a moment to review the 5  Point Scale provided here and ask your students, “What size change is this?”  “Was this an expected or unexpected change?”, “Do you think this change is welcome or unwelcome?”.  Using this visual and asking these questions during langauge arts work and read aloud time can help to transfer some of the social/emotional learning points into other aspects of the child’s school day.

Enjoy!  – Jill