how does our brain work for elementary

Learn about the brain activities



After we made our play dough brain cell model, and our play dough brain model.

Now it’s time to get into even further details about our brain.

how our brain works

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}


The kids all got out their Anatomy Notebooks (affiliate link) and readied large numbers of markers and pencils ready to color the parts.

brain diagram

Then I drew my amazing brain, which to me looks a bit like a Truffula tree from a Dr. Seuss book.  But that didn’t stop their ability to follow along, especially as I pointed to where each part was on our brain as we talked through it all.

The job of the frontal lobe, check out the blog post for the other parts of the brain


The frontal lobe does a lot of work for us.  It’s involved in our speech and language, it helps process our sense of smell, creates thoughts and ideas, and provides the fine motor skills we need to write, sew, and do all those crafts my kids love.  It also helps process emotions.

This goes a long way to explain why those head injuries are so devastating.  they often happen to the front of our head where so much of our higher brain functions are going on.

Temporal lobe responsibilities, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

The Temporal Lobe is a great support for the Frontal Lobe.  They work together on the sense of smell, and our temporal lobe connects all that sensory information to our memories.  That’s why a smell will remind us of something.

It’s also the area of our brain that recognizes music and other less pleasant noise.  So, I’m guessing Beethoven had a very well-developed Temporal lobe.  I by contrast, do not.

pareital lobe explained, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

Our pareital lobe then finishes up processing most of our sensory information.  It’s also where our sense of touch is processed and our pain center.  All those blows to the back of the head heroes take in movies, they have to do a real number on their senses, and also explains why in the books I read it talks about losing feeling in fingers with a head injury.

Occipital lobe, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

Our final part of the brain is our Occipital lobe (do you capitalize parts of the brain?).  And that little part all the way at the back of our head is responsible for our sense of sight.  We got a very long explanation of why it’s necessary to be so far away in the next chapter on senses, which my currently tired brain is not remembering.

This also goes a long way to explain why Superman lost his sense of sight briefly when he slipped and fell on the ice several years ago.

Cerebral Cortex width, visual brain lesson for kids

Then we learned about our cerebral cortex, which is the gray matter on the outside of our brains.  Prior to reading this, I’d always thought of our cerebral cortex as this huge thing because you keep hearing it referenced in movies and TV shows, but 4 pennies isn’t really that thick is it?

brain reaction time

From there we started learning about our synaptic response time, which is aided by the myelin on our neurons.  The thicker our myelin, the quicker our twitch response.

The kids and I tried measuring how quickly we could grab a ruler as it dropped.  Very quickly we discovered they did not have a good response time, which explains all of the broken dishes I’ve had over the years of kids.  I think in the last 6 months we’ve broken at least 1 dish a month.  It’s never anything deliberate, but it’s always a spectacularly loud sound, and very large spatter area.

test your cerebellum


Our final activity for the brain itself was to test our cerebellum.  Our cerebellum processes all of the information our senses sends it and figures out where that information needs to go.

Trying to touch your nose with your extended fingers with your eyes closed requires a large amount of information processed.  Large amounts, and the kids all did it fairly well, but it was amusing to see them working and concentrating to do it.


Next week I’ll share with you our spinal column activity (hint, it tastes really good), and that will finish off our Nervous System Unit.


14 responses to “Learn about the brain activities”

  1. oh my goodness what fun!!

    1. The kids loved all of the movement in these different things.

  2. This is fantastic!! You really should do the jello brain sometime, though. Your boys would love it. Especially when it came to eating it.

    1. Would you believe I stink at making jello? I really do. I don’t know how I mess it up, but I can. That being said, I should look into that brain jello mold.

  3. Wiki answers says “no” to capitalizing brain parts. I like how studying the brain is giving you insight into your life with children…loss of sight….broken dishes…very funny 🙂

    1. So many injuries. I completely shocked a lady at my church when I said I think I had 10 ER visits, and the even crazier part was they were all in about a 2 year period.

  4. This is a very cool learning unit for kids!

    1. It was so much fun!

  5. You did amazing with anatomy this year. Good luck switching to Earth science next!

    1. Fingers crossed they enjoy it as much. I’ve still got several anatomy posts to throw in once I get all the pictures edited and verify my science. I always have to go back to the textbook to make sure I’m saying the right thing.

  6. This is great stuff, Ticia! I am so going to steal some of your ideas when we (if we ever do) get to that part of the body!

    1. Steal away, I regularly steal from your ideas. I’m already thinking ahead to getting to feudalism and some of your posts.

  7. What a great study! Love seeing those four pennies together – can’t wait to share with the girls 🙂

    1. I know those four pennies just really hit home with me. I’m sure your girls will love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *