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Brain Power: Grades 2-3

Procedures/Discussion Questions


  1. Before dividing the class into groups, show the first part of the DVD. If you don’t have a DVD player, read the introductory story at the back of this module. Turn the DVD off at the appropriate time and ask the children what they think they are supposed to make with the Play-Doh. After helping them figure out that they will be making a model of the brain, lead a brainstorming session about what the brain does. You might want to refer to the students’ ideas from the earlier brainstorming session.
  2. After eliciting ideas from the children, turn the DVD back on and have them view examples of what the brain does.
  3. Divide the class into groups. Give each group a box and a set of trading cards. Explain the mission - to build a simple model of the brain and to find out what each part does. Point out that the trading cards have all the information they need to finish the activity.
  4. To build the models of the brain, students should do the following:
Step 1First, make the hemispheres of the cerebral cortex. Take a large clump of Play-Doh. Split it into two parts. Roll each part into an oval.
Step 2These two ovals are the hemispheres of your model brain. Students can make wrinkles on the hemispheres with their fingernails to make the brain look more realistic.
Steps 3 and 4Next, make the limbic system. Using a different color of Play-Doh, make a small piece that is shaped like a bean.
Step 5Lay the bean shape on one of the hemispheres.
Step 6Put the two hemispheres together with the bean inside, like a sandwich. Press them together.
Step 7The limbic system is located deep inside the cerebral cortex.
Step 8Third, make the cerebellum. Using a third color, make a ball about one-third the size of each hemisphere.
Step 9Flatten the ball slightly with your thumb.
Step 10Put the ball on the bottom and underneath the hemispheres. The cerebellum is at the lower back end of the hemispheres.
Step 11Finally, make the brain stem.
Step 12Using the fourth color, make a shape that looks like a small trumpet.
Step 13Stick the trumpet at the bottom of the cerebellum. The brain stem leads into the spinal cord at the back of the brain.
  1. Give the students between 15 and 20 minutes to complete the activity. At the end of that time, each group should have a model of the brain.
  2. On the second day, have each group use the trading cards to label each part of the brain. Ask each group to identify at least one function of each part.
  3. Have each student complete the Log Sheet (PDF, 58KB).

Have the students save their model brains. They will need them for module six.


Discussion Questions

  1. Ask the students if they have any other ideas they want to add to the class list of what the brain does.
  2. Discuss with the students their impressions of this mission. Were they surprised that the brain does so many things? Did they know about the brain before the mission? What other questions do they have about the brain?
  3. Then ask students the following question: How do they think information gets to the brain? Keep a record of their responses. Conclude by telling the class that they will be learning more about how information travels in the next module.

This page was last updated September 2012

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NIDA. (2012, September 1). Brain Power: Grades 2-3. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/brain-power/brain-power-grades-2-3

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