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K-1: The Senses

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, Michael Vu, MS, Delinda Mock, BA, Christopher Burnett, BA, and Nancy Moreno, PhD.

The Brainstem

Procedure (cont.)

Point to the brainstem on the diagram. Make sure students understand that the brainstem is located at the back of the brain, below the cerebellum, and that it is connected to the spinal cord. Have students touch the backs of their necks to feel the spinal column (bony spine that protects the spinal cord). 

Explain that the brainstem is in charge of our automatic functions. Ask, What do you think “automatic functions” means? Give student examples of body functions, things we don’t normally have to think about, such as breathing, swallowing, beating of the heart, digestion, blinking, and our sense of feeling awake or sleepy. Have students locate the brainstem on their brain diagrams and color it yellow.

Direct students to examine the remaining pictures. Ask them to consider how the actions depicted relate to the part of the brain in charge of automatic functions (breathing, sneezing and coughing). Discuss students’ ideas. Then have them color the band on each remaining image yellow, and glue or tape these pictures in place near the yellow brain stem. 

If available, bring out the brain model for students to examine. Lead a discussion of what students know and have learned about the brain. 

To review, have each student describe a brain function and, if appropriate, the part of the brain responsible. 

Note: See slide 10 for the answer key.

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