Lesson Plan Title : Emergency Central Nervous System

Age Range: Grade 6 through Grade 8 (Middle School)

Overview and Purpose: In this lesson, students will get up out of their chairs and demonstrate how the central nervous system works in an emergency.

Class Chairs

Objective: The student will be able to explain how the central nervous system works normally and during an emergency.


The central nervous system (CNS) is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. This is the system that processes all the information across the entire human body. The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies is composed of billions nerve cells. The central nervous coordinates everything we do from involuntary things such as breathing to voluntary things such as talking.

We can also begin to introduce the peripheral nervous system, at this point. This is the part that actually carries the messages to their intended destination.


Visual map of the human central nervous system.

We would encourage you to have sturdy chairs.

Large chart paper and markers.


Assign students to be different parts of the central nervous system. Have students mimic these movements and signals by assigning them to act as these portions of the nervous system. Clear a large area and have each student stand in the correct place for their part.

Parts needed:

Brain - top of the classroom

Nerves - runners from the fingers and toes to the spinal column



Spinal cord - runner from the nerves to the head

Running Brain

Explain how the central nervous system works. Then simplify it so the students can demonstrate it: normally the nerve sends the information to the spinal cord, the spinal cord receives the information and sends it to the brain, the brain makes a decision and gives the information to the spinal cord, the spinal cord sends the information back to the nerves.

However, in an emergency, the nerves send the information to the spinal cord. It recognizes the danger and makes an instant decision. The nerves carry out that decision while the spinal cord sends the information to the brain. The brain then assesses the situation and agrees with the decision or makes a new one.

Give the students different scenarios to act out. Have the spinal cord person decide if he needs to make a decision or not. Scenarios could include: touching a hot pan, stepping on a tack on the carpet, and something brushing against your leg in the dark.

Wrap Up:

For homework, have students write a story about their day as a spinal cord. Encourage them to talk about the decisions they had to make and if those decisions were right or wrong.

A good follow-up activity for the next day is to provide students with a central nervous system worksheet and ask them to draw an event that your class acted out the previous day. This will be a great reminder and allow you to go to the next level with them on this topic.