Lesson Plan: Animals Have Brains
Curriculum Alignment
NAEYC Accreditation Criteria for Curriculum Standards

2C.03 Children are provided varied opportunities and materials that support fine-motor development.

2G.07 Children are provided varied opportunities and materials that encourage them to discuss scientific concepts in everyday conversation.

2G.08 Children are provided varied opportunities and materials that help them learn and use scientific terminology and vocabulary associated with the content areas.

Head Start Indicators

Scientific Knowledge

  • Expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe and discuss the natural world, materials, living things and natural processes.
  • Expands knowledge of and respect for their body and the environment.

Language Development - Listening and Understanding


  • Shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.
  • Understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.
Learning Objective

Animals have a brain.


In this activity, students will learn about the brains of some animals. They will create cut-out animal shapes and decorate them. After doing this activity, students will be able to explain that animals have a brain and describe some animal brains.

What You Will Need:

  • Animal shapes (available in To Print section, below), printed onto card stock or on regular paper and then glued onto card stock or construction paper
  • Card stock or construction paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • Scissors (teachers may cut prior to project, or have kids cut out animal shapes)
  • Scraps such as ribbon, fabric, buttons, foam shapes, and pom poms (optional) for students to glue onto animal shapes


If possible, have students play the Brain Train game in Every Body Has a Brain before doing this activity.

To begin the lesson, talk about animals and their brains. Tell students: Most animals have a brain, but there are a few that don’t. Today, we are going to learn about some animal brains. Then we are going to cut out animals and decorate them.

Tell students you will continue to gather facts about animal brains and about some animals that don’t have brains. The latter include:

  • Jellyfish
  • Sponge
  • Starfish
  • Tapeworm

Most animals DO have a brain. Here are some facts about animal brains. Discuss these facts with students. Tell students that your class will collect more information about animals and brains by playing Every Body Has a Brain, and by doing other research.

Facts to share:

  • Frog: Frogs have brains, even when they are tiny tadpoles.
  • Monkey: A monkey has a brain that is smaller than a human brain.
  • Elephant: An elephant’s brain weighs about 13 pounds– the largest brain of any animal that lives on land.
  • Blue whale: A blue whale has a bigger brain than any other animal. The blue whale is the world’s largest mammal.
  • Spider: A spider has a small brain, but it can use its brain to learn new things.
  • Octopus: An octopus has a brain and it is one of the smartest creatures in the sea.
  • Lobster: A lobster has a brain, but its brain is only the size of a grasshopper’s.
  • Bear: A bear’s brain is all about smell — even more than a dog’s.
  • Duck: A duck sleeps with one eye open. Half of its brain sleeps while the other half is awake.

Provide art centers with a project where students can cut out and decorate the animals.

If possible, extend this learning by planning a field trip to a zoo or aquarium where students can observe the animals they have been learning about!

Further Exploration:

Learn more about the Brainstem, and about animal brains, by exploring the following stories, songs, and games.

  • Work Work Work in the Brainstem
  • Here Comes the Brain Train
  • Brainstem Breathing
  • Brain Train
  • Reptile Roundup
Web Resources

The following site includes American Sign Language (ASL) signs for animals. Sign Language provides more opportunity to communicate and share ideas.