This month, I've been reviewing the human body with the kids, and I plan to write about our anatomy and physiology activities here. My postings may not correspond well to the real time in which we actually completed the lesson. With the busyness of life, I write when I am able, which means I may not write about an activity until weeks after the activity has been completed. This post will cover what I did with the kids for our first A&P lesson - created a body map and learned a bit about the skeletal system.
We started our "unit" on the human body by first drawing "body maps" which we can fill in with cut-outs of the various body organs and parts as we learn about them. Our body maps consist of life-sized outlines of the kids' bodies, made by having them lay on long sheets of butcher paper and tracing around their bodies with a marker. [Our butcher roll cutter is one of my favorite supplies for activities with the kids. We mounted it to the top of a long, well-used folding table to which we also attached adjustable table legs (similar to these) to accommodate growing kids.]
To reinforce body appreciation, each time we have a lesson, I plan to ask the kids to tell me something they like about their body, and I will write it at the bottom of their body maps.
- We looked at this printout of a skeleton, named the main bones, and attempted to palpate (examine by touch) the bones in our own bodies. We also named the main joints (hip, knee, elbow, wrist, ankle, shoulder, etc.), moved our joints and talked about how the joints differed (e.g. our elbow and knee joint allows us to bend part of our arms and legs up and down, but our shoulder and hip joints let us move our arms and legs in circles - these are examples of hinge joints versus ball and socket joints).
- Using brass brads, we put together this skeleton that I printed out. The kids liked that the skeleton was eating ice cream - we could choose an arm that was holding an ice cream cone or one that was holding a pint of ice cream. Then we moved our skeletons' limbs and would see if we could mimic the same movement with our own bodies. We also had a little dance party with our paper skeletons.
- We did a quick experiment to show how the tubular shape of our bones helps to make them strong. We taped a piece of paper into a tube shape lengthwise and another into a square shape lengthwise. We then placed thin books on them one at a time, recording which shape collapsed first. The tube held up more weight. (This is overly simplistic, but sufficient for very young kids.)
- Why do we have skeletons? Skeletons provide support and protection.
- Humans have endoskeletons (hard bony structures inside our bodies) whereas some other animals, such as beetles and crabs, have exoskeletons (hard structures on the outside of their bodies). The kids gave examples of animals that have endoskeletons and exoskeletons. (My younger son refers to the endoskeleton as the "indoor skeleton.") We also talked about how some animals, such as octopuses, don't have a skeleton at all but rather have soft bodies, which allows them to squeeze their bodies flat and through holes, etc. We acted out these different animals, which made the activity more fun, added a motor skill component, and provided an outlet for physical movement needs since my kids don't like to sit still for very long.
- Our bones are made of minerals (primarily calcium) and protein called collagen.
- There are things that we can do to keep our bones healthy: eat healthy foods, exercise, and wear protective gear (knee pads/elbow pads/helmets) during certain activities.
Vocabulary Words: Skeletal system, skeleton, joint
Additional activities (which we didn't do this time, but I'd like to do sometime in the future):