Brain-Based Learning Strategies

brain based learning strategies
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Facilitator, and Performance consultant

Brain-Based Learning Strategies

In 2013 in June, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas hosted two events for the Metro DC ASTD Chapter in Washington, DC (Tapping the Brain for Learning and Brain-Based Learning Strategies).

The sessions focused on how the brain learns and some of the research that has been done related to applying color, sound, motion, novelty, learner engagement and other strategies to enhance learning environments and potentially increase opportunities for learners to gain, retain, recall and use what they learn.

On the 26th, he provided insights at the chapter’s dinner meeting in a session titled: Tapping the Brain for Learning.  This session explored many ideas, brain-based concepts, and techniques that can be used to enhance virtually any training program or presentation topic.

At the end of the session, and when applying concepts learned, participants were able to:

a.  Facilitate creative training programs and presentations that can help induce behavior change and are FUN.

b.  Identify, make, or obtain inexpensive materials that add spark to training programs and presentations.

c.  Increase interaction with participants.

d.  Review program concepts throughout your sessions in order to get an interim check of learning before the program ends.

e.  Create memorable techniques for adding excitement and sizzle to programs so that participants keep coming back.

Brain-Based Learning Strategies Training – Past Success by Robert W. Lucas

On June 27th, Bob facilitated a one-day workshop titled: Strategies to Make Your Learning Events Sizzle. In this event, participants experienced dozens of creative training techniques based on brain research related to how the brain best learns and retains information. These strategies presented that day were meant to be immediately applied in their own learning events. They covered many training workshop essentials for typing in research to learning.

Bob went on to expand upon some of the ideas addressed in the previous night’s program. Therefore, the additional information through a variety of experiential opportunities in which participants hear about a concept, see it demonstrated and then have an opportunity to try or discuss it. They did also discuss how they might use the strategies to strengthen their own learning events.

At the end of the program, participants were able to:

  • Create training environments that stimulate learning.
  • Incorporate the latest learning brain research into their training design and delivery.
  • Design learning events that result in higher levels of attention and retention.
  • Use techniques and strategies experienced in their own learning events.
  • Add pizzazz and novelty to their learning events.
  • Immediately apply what they learned.

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

By getting your learners up and moving, you increase the blood flow carrying oxygen to their brains and help stimulate the brain neurons while helping make them more alert. That increases their opportunity to learn and retain what they experience through their senses.

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Here are some creative energizer training activities to engage you, learners.

Play a Clever Catch Icebreaker

Clever Catch Ice Breaker Ball
Clever Catch Ball Training activity

-This is an easy and effective movement-based activity that introduces participants and prompts them to give interesting information about themselves at the beginning of a session. For this exercise, you’ll need a Clever Catch Ball–a 24-inch inflatable ball that you can find on the Internet or at school supply stores. The balls are available already printed with questions for an array of topics, but you can also use a writeable one.

-Before the session, use wet-erase markers to write questions or other content-related information all over the ball. For example, to open an orientation, communication, or team-building session, you might write, “What makes you decide that something is important in your life?” or “If you knew that you could not fail, what would you do?”

-At the start of training, ask your learners to form a circle and then toss the ball to someone.

-The person who catches the ball gives his or her name and then answers the question that appears under his or her right thumb.

-After answering, the catcher tosses the ball across the circle to another person.

-Play continues until everyone has caught the ball and answered a question once.

Take a Pop-Up Survey

If you want to do a quick survey to determine your learners’ experience or other characteristics, ask learners to “pop up” (stand and then sit) when you ask something pertinent to them. For example, if you ask, “Who has delivered a training program to others?” anyone who has done so stands up, then sits down.

This type of training activity prompts quick physical movement while it gives you (and the other participants) information about the people in the class.

Make Some Noise

Get Learners Moving with Energizer Training Activities

Give each learner some sort of party-type noisemaker–a whistle, a clapper or clacker, a spinner, a cowbell, or whatever you wish.

When you shout out a term or phrase related to a key session topic, everyone who knows the definition jumps up and sounds their noisemakers.

You pick one of them to offer the definition or explain the concept, and everyone else
sits down. Give a small prize or candy for a correct answer.

Repeat the process until all terms have been defined.

Play Verbal Volleyball

To add sound, laughter, movement, and fun to any session, have learners review key concepts through a game of verbal volleyball.

To play it, have learners form pairs and line up facing one another.

When you shout, “Go!” pairs take turns shouting key ideas, concepts, or terms that they’ve learned in the session.

One person in a pair shouts an idea; then her or his partner does the same—or, if nothing comes immediately to mind, shouts “Pass!”

Partners continue this way until neither one can think of another concept.

Learning does not have to be boring. By adding elements such as a bit of novelty, fun, easy magic tricks, movement, and sound, you can enhance the learning environment while engaging learner brains and potentially increasing the opportunity for comprehension and application.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

Bob Lucas
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Training and Performance Consultant and Brain-Based Learning Facilitator

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

A three-part video that shares a presentation titled Tapping the Brain for Learning by internationally-known author and learning and performance consultant, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, has been added to YouTube.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

In it, Bob addresses topics covered in many of his books on how brain research related to learning can be applied in any adult classroom or training environment energize learners to enhance learning outcomes. To view these three video segments, click this link: Robert (Bob) W. Lucas on YouTube.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog

Grouping Learners Using Props

Grouping Learners Using Props

There are many reasons for creatively finding ways to group your participants in a learning environment. Many of them relate to the concepts of brain-based learning which emphasizes factors such as novelty, fun, and movement to stimulate brain neurons in order to enhance learning.

To make your life easier and save time when trying to come up with creative ways to effectively organize participants into small groups, try using small toys or props. Simply decide some item related to your session theme and gather an equal number of various colors or types of the toy or prop to use in identifying team members.

Grouping Learners Using Props by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

To use any type of item for identifying group members, count the total number of people in the room, divide equally based on the number of groups you desire for an activity or discussion, and then select an equal number of different colored or shaped toys or props. Randomly place one item at each learner’s seat location before they arrive. When ready to group them, just announce where they should gather for a group based on the type or color item they were given. For example, if you were doing a train-the-trainer program focused on brain-based learning, you might use a small colored rubber brain-shaped pencil erasers. People with yellow brains would go to one corner, blue, another, and so on.

Here are some suggestions that may help get you started.

  • Different denominations of play currency or coins are effective for a bank teller or cashier training;
  • Brain erasers of different colors can be used in train-the-trainer or creativity sessions;
  • Various colored smile faced items can be used for customer service programs or virtually any other topic. For example, stuffed animals, hacky sacks, or foam balls;
  • Colored fish exemplify successful programs/projects when things are “swimming along”;
  • Foam stress toys in shapes related to your session topic (e.g. cell phone for telephone skills training or smile face balls for customer service training);
  • Assorted zoo animals can add fun to virtually any subject or when discussing stress or a high energy topic when things are hectic (e.g. It’s a zoo around here);
  • Assorted insects or bugs help in activities when discussing pet peeves or things that “bug” participants either in customer interactions, or the workplace;
  • Colored spinning tops made of plastic can emphasize high sales or improvement levels (on top of the world);
  • Back scratchers made of wood or plastic can be related to ways of “reaching or attaining a goal”;
  • Sheriff’s/Law enforcement badges can be tied into concepts of taking charge, authority or ownership of an issue;
  • Rubber ducks made of rubber or plastic might be used to remind people that sometimes things are not always what they are “quacked up” to be (when discussing problems or how things can go wrong in a specific situation);
  • Handheld novelty shaped pencil sharpeners can stress the need to point out the need to ask direct questions or “get to the point” when doing customer service or interpersonal communication program;
  • Footballs, baseballs, sponge balls, or similar small items may help emphasize teamwork or “getting on the ball.”

These simple, yet fun approaches to group formation can get people laughing and be a novel way to save time rather than the traditional “count off” method that many trainers and educators often use.