Be Brain Smart

Be Brain Smart lesson plan

Does animal brain size match body size? Affect intelligence? Sculpt the brains of three vertebrates to compare and contrast their structure and size.

  • 1.

    Students research how the brain controls movement and thought. The brain is always working, whether a person is asleep or awake!

  • 2.

    Have students find facts about the brains of humans and two other vertebrates. Students will find that all brains have two hemispheres, distinct structures, and are attached to a spinal cord. Among the differences they may find are that size and cortical folding varies among species.

  • 3.

    Students discuss with their classmates if they think brain size is linked to animal size or intelligence. Have them make a chart of the similarities and differences they discovered using Crayola® Multicultural Markers.

  • 4.

    Students mix white Model Magic with color from Washable Multicultural Markers and sculpt three different vertebrate brains.

  • 5.

    Sculpt all three brains to scale and to show details. Air-dry them at least 24 hours.

  • 6.

    Add more color to highlight the folds in the brain models.

  • 7.

    Label each brain with details such as the name of the animal, typical brain size/weight and adult animal weight, and the relative intelligence of each creature.


  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • SCI: Ask questions about the natural an dhuman-built worlds.
  • SCI: Construct explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.
  • VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.
  • VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.


  • Students can diagram a cut-away of the human brain, label each part, and explain what the function of that part of the brain.
  • What is a stroke, or brain attack? Students can investigate this medical event and what causes it. Using knowledge of the human brain, students discuss the signs of stroke and determine what parts of the brain have been affected as revealed by a stroke victim's sudden disabilities.
  • Physical therapists assist stroke victims during their rehabilitation period. What is a physical therapist? What types of education do you need to qualify as a physical therapist? What colleges or universities offer this degree?
  • Invite a local physical therapist to speak with the class about rehabilitation from strokes. Students prepare questions prior to the expert's visit and summarize their new learning in a well-written paragraph.
  • Invite a stroke victim to speak with the class. This may need to be done via Skype. Students prepare questions prior to the victim's electronic visit and summarize their learning in a well-written paragraph.