Drawing: WordWebs and MindMaps….to the LEFT or to the RIGHT?

Lesson 1


In this lesson students will develop a simple understanding of the brain’s two hemispheres and their separate yet connected functions. They will understand that if they are to improve their drawing skills they should learn to “get into their right minds”.

They will try several experiments intended to help them understand the separate functions of the left and right hemisphere of the brain and the importance this has in enhancing their drawing ability. They will organize information in two very different ways, each one compatible to the side of the brain used. They will a use the left side of the brain to write a WORDWEB and the right side to create visual symbols and draw MINDMAP.

Go to Lesson 2


One – two class periods


Students should read the handout: Artists are …IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS!


Teaching materials/resources

  • Student handouts of: Artists are …IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS!
  • Diagram or model of the brain
  • Samples of a WORDWEB and a MINDMAP (and or white board and markers to demonstrate examples Student materials/resources
  • Two large sheets of paper
  • Black Sharpie® fine point, extra fine point or ultra fine point markers—black and colors
    Mr. Sketch® scented fine point markers
  • Col-erase® erasable colored pencils
  • Expo2® dry erase markers and Scents dry erase whiteboard markers


  1. Brain hemisphere
  2. Idea generation
  3. WordWeb
  4. MindMap
  5. Mind’s eye
  6. Visual Imagery


  1. Practice making a WORDWEB and a MINDMAP on the white board.
  2. Gather materials, make student handouts
  3. Arrange classroom with uncluttered drawing space for each student


Group Discussion:

  1. Ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the room. Ask the student if they consider themselves to be “normally pretty smart…or at least of AVERAGE intelligence?…. and USUALLY fairly coordinated? Can you at least wiggle your fingers when I ask?! Well then, I’m going to see if that is true!”
  2. Have the student stretch her arms down in front criss-crossing them at the wrists. Clasp both hands and bring them up to her chest so that the thumbs are facing towards the rest of the class and the clasped fingers towards the ceiling.
  3. Explain that you are going to ask the student to wiggle the finger that you point to.
  4. Point to one finger at a time being careful NOT to touch the finger as you point. In most cases, the student will NOT be able isolate and move the correct finger and a different finger will wiggle!
  5. Call on another student…repeat the experiment.
  6. Ask why this seems so difficult when wiggling fingers is normally so easy? Explain the criss-crossing of the arms has criss-crossed the visual signals to the brain… and that they are going to learn a little about the brain in order to understand how they can improve their drawing!
  7. Read student handout Artists are…IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS!
  8. Explain that during this lesson they will try use just one side of their brain at a time.
  9. Have the students turn to the person next to them and one at a time, they will describe their bedroom to their partner. After a minute, have the partner do the same. What side of the brain was in use as they used words?
  10. Now have all students close their eyes…. and turn OFF all sound. They should NOT answer your questions out loud Tell them that they are going to use their mind’s eye to take a trip inside their head:

    “Imagine that you are standing at the door to your bedroom. Take a look inside before you enter. Does it look the way you left it this morning? Look at the floor….clean and tidy or a mine field of clothes and dirty dishes? Now turn your head to look at your bed. Is it made? Notice the colors of the bedspread and sheets….can you even see them?! Now let your eyes go to the walls. What is on them? Wallpaper? A favorite color of paint? In Sync or NFL sports heroes? Now, if you dare….go to your closet. Is it picture perfect or about to be condemned!? Walk to the mirror. Look at yourself….smile…. stick your tongue out… wave at yourself….and open your eyes!”

  11. Ask if they were able to “see” their room? If so, they were “in their RIGHT mind”! The side where the brain processes and stores images. The exercise that they have just completed with their eyes closed is called Visual Imagery.

Demonstration/Technique: WordWeb

Select a topic familiar to students (i.e. animals, hobbies…). and write it in the center of the whiteboard drawing a circle around it. Brainstorm with the class, all possible related sub-topics. Write them around the center word and connect them to the center with a line. Continue to go into the sub-topics by adding further sub-sub-topics and connecting them with lines.

Sample: Guided Practice

Students now choose a different topic and create their own using one large sheet of paper and a black pen. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible increasing the appearance to that of a fine spider web.

Set the WordWeb aside and erase the whiteboard.

Food Group

Demonstration/Technique: MindMap
Using the same topic as the WordWeb use bold, creative lettering and write it in the center of the whiteboard drawing a circle around it. Use Expo2® colored or Scents dry erase markers Add the sub-topics as before, but this time use representative images. Draw it vivid and colorful. Don’t worry about accuracy… creativity is more important! Connect the pictures to the center with a lines as before. Continue to go into the sub-topics.

Sample: Guided Practice

Students now draw their own using one large sheet of paper and Sharpie® or Mr. Sketch® Scented markers.


Review the concepts of the lesson and consider the following:

  • Did you create two distinctly different versions based on the same topic?
  • Which of the drawings came from the right side of their brain? The left?
  • Was one easier? Faster? Why?
  • In what way do they serve different purposes?
  • Are the expressive qualities of one better?
  • What problems did you encounter?

National Visual Art Standards

  • Content Standard 3: Identifying, analyzing and selecting subject matter, ideas for personal/cultural expression.
  • Achievement Standard C: Use subjects, themes and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values and esthetics which communicate intended meanings in artworks.

Supporting Resources

The Brain – Our Nervous System; Seymour Simon. Morrow Junior Books; New York

Web Site:
Brainconnection.com – Neuroscience news, on-line courses, basic information and images. http://www.brainconnection.com

Source: A Life Time of Color