Book Review and Giveaway – Brain Child

Besides writing education articles for like this one titled Preschool Activities 101, TV-free ways to keep kids busy while you work, Ms. Starr Weems de Graffenried is a “teacher, artist and educational activity designer. She holds a M.Ed. from Auburn University and is CELTA certified through Cambridge. Starr is the author of Teach Your Child Spanish Through Play and Brain Child.”

She has graciously sent me two of her Brain Child books to give away on my blog.


From her introduction:

Children of this generation have access to more information than ever before and yet are required to think less than ever before. As a teacher, I have spent many perplexed hours trying to figure out why most of my students don’t really seem to know how to think. When presented with an open-ended or creative task, they become paralyzed. If the assignment requires students to apply knowledge from a text, they freeze. They can not make the cognitive jump from memorizing facts to applying the knowledge.

Ms. Weems de Graffenried believes this lack of problem-solving skills is derived from the fact that since we have a steady stream of information available to us via the internet (which does have it’s uses), the main problem arises because children don’t have to formulate theories and test them out. Some children have innate skills in this area, while others must cultivate this through practice. Critical thinking skills can be developed and cultivated.

She admits a sad truth among education today:

Today’s educator is under tremendous to cover a lot of specific material in a very short period of time, which often results in pumping students full of trivia instead of teaching them to think. Many excellent teachers are equipped and ready with mind-building activities that they would love to unleash on this generation, but are simply not granted the time, resources and support to make it happen.

Ms. Weem’s book contains over 75 project based activities that boost creativity, foster critical thinking and explore new interests over many subject areas and skill sets. At the end of each activity, the subject areas and skills sets addressed are listed. At the end of the book is a helpful planner to plan your activities.

There is a variety of activities ranging from simple activities like making a kazoo and a maraca out of recycleables, making a homemade ant farm, learning some words in Spanish, French and German, making a weather barometer or more complex activities like making culture capsules with an international pen-pal or completing a service-learning project (like helping the elderly, helping animals, or preserving the environment). The book provides a listing of pen-pal organizations and a sampling of some charities that might interest you and your child in the appendices.

Now… For the giveaway…

I’m making this super simple. There’s not much to it.

1) Please leave me a comment on this post and your name will be added to the drawing.

2) I will hold a drawing on Friday afteroon and announce them soon afterward.

Good Luck!

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20 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway – Brain Child

  1. Jedda says:

    What a great book. I’ve been reading a lot about this problem lately and would love a look at this book! Thanks for generously offering it!

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Jedda – that’s great. And…if no one else replies, you are almost sure to get it. I hope that changes, because I have two to give away for sure.

  3. Jenn3514 says:

    Looks like a great book! I absolutely agree with her viewpoints posted here!

  4. Tanyia says:

    I think this is awesome. This is a definite problem our kids are facing. Nice to have some jumping off ideas for us.

  5. Sara B says:

    It looks like a great book! It sounds like it has a great variety of ideas. My daughter loves stuff like this.

  6. growinginpeace says:

    Whew! I was getting worried nobody wanted to get this book for free!

    I think I’ll make the drawing Friday afternoon instead of Friday morning to allow others to get a chance to participate.

  7. Karisa says:

    Thanks for putting this up over at GCM. That looks like a fabulous book, full of lots of fun, creative ideas. 🙂

  8. the princess kitty says:

    Looks like a fun book! I’d love to do some of those activities with my daughter!

    I agree with the author that children are being taught more about memorizing and fact quoting than thinking skills. Since we are homeschooling, teaching thinking skills to my daughter is something I have pondered lately, as it seems she wants a microwave answer to everything, and resists my attempts to get her to think of her own answers to her never-ending questions.

    Being someone who attended public school and has thought outside the box from an early age, I dare to say that a big reason children are not being taught to think in public school is that that’s the way the world planners are designing it. 😉


  9. Ashley says:

    Sounds like a really good book & I hope I get the chance to check it out!

  10. First of all, thank you for the link to that article! Great stuff!

    I would absolutely love a copy of this book. It looks extremely helpful!

  11. Mai says:

    I agree that this is a legitimate problem. My mother-in-law says my four-year-old has more critical thinking skills than some of her fourth-graders. For various private reasons, my daughter is going to start public kindergarten in a few weeks. 😦 I would really like to help supplement that education, and it sounds like this book would be fabulous for that!

  12. Tara says:

    This sounds like a great book! I would love to try to win a copy 🙂

  13. mama king says:

    I think this would be a wonderful resource. I love anything that helps cultivate creativity!

  14. This sounds like a great book, and something I’d love to read. Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. Mika says:

    I was reading the first quote out to my engineer husband and he sat there nodding the whole way through. (In agreement, not sleep!)

    Sounds really interesting!

  16. growinginpeace says:

    Mai – I consider myself partners with the schools. I let them cover some things I don’t (like time and calendars and simple things about money and such), then do the really cool stuff with them at home like science projects or playing games with math to reinforce what the learn in school.

  17. growinginpeace says:

    By the way. I can’t wait to find out who wins!

  18. It looks like a great book and I also enjoyed her articles!

  19. Maggie says:

    It’s 12:54am…does that still count as Friday? **innocent look** LOL!

  20. growinginpeace says:

    Sorry, maybe I’ll have another one contest later. I have one last book I’m keeping for myself for a while.


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