Brain City

Just like cities are made up of small and large buildings, so are our brains! Read how one Momentous School teacher got creative with this idea and created Brain City.

By Alissa Windle, Second Grade Teacher | Oct 29, 2014
Brain City

Alissa Windle is a third grade teacher at Momentous School. She shares with us this story of a classroom project called Brain City.
We spend a lot of time talking with our students about their brains. By the time they reach my class in third grade, they have a good grasp on how their brain works and why it is important. But third grade is really also the time when students start to know exactly who the smart kids are and who the, let’s say, struggling kids are in class. Even though we spend a lot of time talking to the students about Mindset, it’s a difficult concept to really apply to themselves. It’s like they’re thinking, “I know that brains can stretch and grow, but I guess not mine, because I’m not smart.”
So I really needed to give my kids an opportunity to apply this lesson to themselves. I got the idea for a Brain City. I told the students that our brains are like a city. Just like cities are made up of small and large buildings, so are our brains. There are some things where our brains might have a skyscraper – maybe it’s art, or spelling, or math – and some areas where the buildings might be a little smaller. All of the buildings in our brain city are under construction. And guess who the architect is? You!
My students caught on quickly. We made it fun for them by letting them design their own city. The areas they thought they were best at, they built the tallest buildings.  I loved seeing what the students thought were their tall and short buildings. (Sometimes I was even surprised by their responses, but I let them build however they felt was true.)


The second part of the project was that each student had to come up with a game to help build one of their smaller buildings. For example, one student thought that their puzzle building was their smallest so to build up this building, she created a giant puzzle of many different pieces. Another student felt that he struggled in math and created a dice game to help him with word problems. I was so amazed by the games they created themselves that I saved them for the kids to share with one another. It has been a great way to see them take control of their own learning.
Then we had a photo shoot where the students posed with a hammer and goggles, to demonstrate that they are the brain architects, and don’t forget – the brains are still under construction!


This was such a fun activity for the students. We have them displayed in the hall outside our room so the students can see them every time we come into class. I think anyone could take this activity and run with it. You could mix it up in different ways – maybe a garden, or using Legos, or sculpting with clay. Get creative! The brain loves novelty, so the more unique ways we can teach these lessons, the more likely it is to sink in.