How to Build a Model Brain

Updated April 17, 2017

The brain is the organ that allows people to think, learn, speak, move, feel emotions and make memories. Even though the brain is only one organ, it has regions that function together and individually for behaviour, personality and creativity. Making a brain model will help you learn more about the sections and functions of this incredible organ. Here are two ideas: one for making a clay model of the brain and one for a paper mache wearable model.

Print a paper diagram of a side view of the brain. Cut a piece of wax paper to cover the diagram and tape together. Make sure you can see the brain outline through the wax paper. If not, outline with a thin black marker.

Work the clay or salt dough until pliable. Add colour if needed to make six colours of dough. Another option is to use plain dough and paint it when fully dry.

Mold the dough to fit the shapes in the brain diagram. The model can be flat or you can shape the clay to make a realistic dome for half the brain. You can also flip the diagram to make the opposite side of the brain.

Allow clay or salt dough to fully dry. Carefully peel back the wax paper. Paint if needed and label the parts of the brain by writing on the model with a marker or using a label maker. Attach to a base, if desired.

Blow up a round balloon. Make sure it is a little bigger than your head if you plan to wear the finished product.

Prepare the paper mache. There are several formulas to choose from for the glue paste. Mix 3 parts of white glue to 1 part water or use equal parts of flour and water. Another formula is to boil 1 part flour with 5 parts water for 3 minutes, then cool for a smooth paste.

Dip the newspaper strips into the paste and wrap around the top half of the balloon. Allow to dry overnight and continue making thin layers until the model is the desired thickness.

Pop the balloon and trim the edges of the cap with scissors or a craft knife. An adult should supervise if using a craft knife.

Paint the brain cap with a base coat. When dry, use a pencil to trace the sections of the brain on the outside of the brain cap. Paint sections and label with a permanent black marker. Wear your new brain with pride.


Add a little salt to the paper mache paste to keep the finished product from growing mould.


If this is for a class assignment, do not wait until the night before your project is due to start the paper mache model. Allow plenty of time for each step in the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay Model:
  • Wax paper
  • Clay or salt dough
  • Diagram of the brain
  • Paper Mache Model:
  • Newspaper strips
  • Round balloon
  • Paper mache paste
  • Paints
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About the Author

Susan King is a teacher with 27 years experience with all ages, grade levels and ability levels, including teaching in China. She has written a book, "The Road to Rebecca," about adopting from China. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She also has a ThM from Colorado Theological Seminary in Christian Counseling and recently received her PhD.