The Brain: Protection
© Maureen Rigdon.
- Length: Variable
Students learn that the brain is fragile and that it is enclosed by the skull, which protects the brain and forms the shape of the head.
This activity is from K-1: The Senses Teacher's Guide. While designed for students in grades K-1, it may be used with students in Pre-K and grade 2.
The brain is 80% water, and it is fragile. It is enclosed within the skull dome, or cranium, a bony shell that protects the brain and forms the shape of the head.
Animal brains fit snugly inside their skulls, which have a size and shape to afford maximum protection. Animal brains are further protected by a cushion of fluid and a covering of three thin, tough membranes, called the meninges.
Still, our brains are vulnerable to injury. For safety, helmets should be worn when skateboarding, riding a bicycle or playing contact sports, such as hockey, baseball or football. Seat belts should be worn at all times when riding in a motor vehicle, to protect the brain from injury during a collision.
Objectives and Standards
What protects the brain? Why does the brain need to be protected?
The skull protects the brain.
Materials and Setup
Teacher Materials (See Setup)
120-cm sheet of butcher paper or poster board to make a classroom human body diagram
Copy of the student pages
Optional: Brain and Skull model
Materials per Student
Pair of scissors
Copy of the three student pages (make sufficient numbers of handouts, based on the size of your class)
Before class, create a life-sized outline of a child on butcher paper (use a student model or draw the outline free-hand). Be sure the head is turned to the right to match the illustration on “Brain Diagram 2.” This will serve as a classroom human body diagram.
Display the diagram on a wall or bulletin board in the classroom. You will add information to it throughout the unit, as students learn more about the brain and senses.
This activity is teacher-directed and is best presented as whole-class instruction.
Procedure and Extensions
One or two sessions of 30 minutes
Ask students, What protects the brain? Discuss their answers. Then, have students place their hands on their heads and ask, What do you feel? Tell students that the hard surface is the skull, which is made of several bones.
Distribute a copy of “Brain Diagram 2” to each student. Instruct students to cut out the brain and glue it into their notebooks.
Distribute a copy of “Skull Diagram” to each student. Have students cut out the skull and arrange it over the brain in their notebooks.
Ask, Does the skull fit over the brain? After students have discovered the correct orientation for the skull, have them tape down the top of the skull over the brain. Discuss ways in which we protect our brains and skulls in everyday life. Examples include using helmets while riding bicycles and wearing seat belts while riding in a motor vehicle.
If available, display a brain/skull model. Show students how the brain sits inside the skull. Ask, How is the model like a real brain and skull? How is it different? Give students time to make their own observations.
Ask students, What comes next, over the skull? Give each student a copy of the “Head” page and ask the class where it might belong. Students will discover that it fits right over the skull. Next, have each student color the face to match his/her own features, as much as possible. Have them tape it into place.
Have students examine their final layer, the face and external features. Lead a class discussion of what they know about each sensory organ. Ask, What do your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin tell you about the world?
Refer to the life-sized student outline created earlier. Show students a copy of “Brain Diagram 2,” and ask where on the outline it should be located. Cut out the brain and tape it appropriately inside the head on the drawing.
Explain that students will learn more about how each sensory organ communicates with the brain to help us understand what is happening around us.
Chudler, Eric. “Neuroscience Coloring Book.” Neuroscience For Kids. Washington University, Web. 13 Feb. 2015. https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/experi.html
Guillain, Charlotte. Our Brains (Our Bodies). (2006) Heinemann Educational Books.
Funded by the following grant(s)
National Institutes of Health: Blueprint for Neuroscience Education, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Science Education Partnership Award program, Office of the Director, Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs.
The Learning Brain: Interactive Inquiry for Teachers and Students
Grant Number: RD25DA033006