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The Three Planes
(Coronal, Sagittal, Transverse)

by Greg Crowther


There are three anatomical planes in which tissues may be sliced and/or images taken. This jingle, originally written for Biology 241 at South Seattle College, helps us remember which plane is which.


If you cut your nose off, that's coronal;
If you cut your feet off, that's transverse.
If you cut your ear off, that is sagittal....
Now tell me which cut in which plane is the worst!

Other Files

MP3 (demo)

sheet music (with melody play-back)

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Examples of kinesthetic movements for this song, as suggested by Dr. Lekelia (Kiki) Jenkins, are as follows. First, students could make cutting motions that align with the relevant planes. Second, students could add gestures to help them remember the respective words for each plane. Coronal: after the cutting gesture, pretend to guzzle a Corona beer bottle so that it hits the tip of your nose. Transverse: after the cutting gesture, take marching steps (a play on transit, traverse, etc.). Sagittal: after the cutting gesture, sag or slump to one side.

Study Questions

(1) What is another name for the coronal plane?

(2) What is another name for the horizontal plane?

(3) If an MRI slice includes a cross-section of all ten toes, what kind of a slice is that?

(4) What is a parasagittal plane?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)