Laterality Lesson Plan

Laterality Lesson PlanLaterality Ladder

Background: Handedness and lateralization of functions within the brain is often a difficult concept to teach young students. This is a fun and collaborative hands-on activity that will illustrate these difficult concepts. Before the activity give a brief introduction on Left vs. Right Brain Functions. Cover the motor cortex, Broca?s language area, and also the corpus collosum.


1)    Brain Shaped Lateralization cards. Each set includes 3 cards:

a)    Left Brain Language Area
b)    Right Brain Motor Cortex
c)    Left Brain Motor Cortex

2) Small plastic bags with marshmallows and a bunch of toothpicks (or if that?s too messy you can use blocks or paper cups for the tower building).

3) Paper towels, and hand wipes or hand sanitizer (if using marshmallows).


1) Ask students: Everyone raise your right hand. What part of your brain is allowing you to do that? Now for your left?

2) Discuss Left vs. Right Brain functions including the Motor Cortex and language (Broca?s Area).

3) Discuss the corpus collosum and communication between the Left and Right Sides of the brain.

4) Split students into groups with 3 in each group.

5) Give each group a set of Brain cards, and a bag of toothpicks and marshmallows. Make sure no group begins the activity until told they can start.

6) Make sure each student understands their brain card:

a.    Left Brain Language (Broca?s) Area: This card allows only for speech. The student with this card can talk, but not use their hands to help build the tower.
b.    Right Brain Motor Cortex: This card allows for the use of the left hand only.
c.    Left Brain Motor Cortex: This card allows for the use of the right hand only.

7) ** Remember if students cannot talk to each other unless they have a Language Brain Card! **

8) Start the timer for 3 minutes. Students can begin building their marshmallow towers.

9) See which groups built the tallest tower ?

10) OPTIONAL ADD ON: As students are building their towers have each student in each group stop what they are doing at different times. For example, for 15 seconds, Broca?s language area is impaired. You can no longer speak. You are impaired and can no longer contribute to your team. Then do this for 15 seconds for the other cards as well.

11) Discuss:

a.    What happened when language was impaired; when motor was impaired? 
b.    Discuss how multiple parts of the brain are necessary to complete a given task.

Take home points

1) The left and right sides of your brain have different functions.

2) The LEFT motor cortex controls movement of your RIGHT side of your body. The RIGHT motor cortex controls movement of the LEFT side of the body.

3) For most people, language is localized in the left hemisphere, called Broca?s Area.

4) Corpus Collosum Damage: Discuss split brain patients.