STEM Activities – Human Body

I often get asked what my favourite thing is to teach; it is without a doubt human biology.  Our girls are now of the age where they are curious about how their bodies work.  They know they eat food and it turns in to poop, but how?  They know they need to breathe, but why?  They know they can hear our heartbeats through our chests, but what does it mean and why does it happen?

We took the opportunity during this lockdown to feed their curiosity, and spent two weeks studying the human body.  Our girls are about to turn three and five, so much of this learning will not be retained, but the seed has been planted.  We spent approximately one hour each school day studying the different organs and systems in the body.  As much as possible, I try to teach the girls through play or physical activities to keep it fun and engaging.

Each of our sessions started off the same way; we referred to books and then watched a short video on Youtube that support the girls’ learning.  We would then create our STEM craft.

Our favourite book to refer to was the Usbourne See Inside Your Body book.  For most sessions, we watched a video by Nemours Kids Health on Youtube.  These videos show the adventures of Chloe and the Nurb as they visit different parts of the body.  They explain how things work in a colourful and clear way.

Here is what we covered and created during our human body topic;

Skeleton

IMG_20200418_000900.jpg

This is a great activity for primary aged children; the older they are, the more detailed their skeleton.  Our girls are almost three and almost five, and absolutely loved this activity.

Here is what you’ll need;

Q tips, glue (we used a glue gun), black card, and scissors.  I also printed off a picture of a skeleton for the girls to refer to.

How to make it;

Before the girls started this activity, I had previously mapped out the skeleton to make sure I had a long enough strip of card (for this, I stuck two pieces of card together).  I then got the girls to map out their skeleton, encouraging them to refer to the printed off skeleton for guidance.  We then discussed how would be best to create the ribs and pelvis.  Once the girls had practiced mapping out their skeleton a couple of times, we then stuck it down using a glue gun.

Rib Cage

202004261972825461172548838.jpg

Because we had discussed the skeleton, and at this point had looked at the heart and lungs; it made sense to look at the rib cage and its function in more detail.  This is another nice and easy activity that is suitable for all primary ages and lower key stage three.

Here is what you’ll need;

White card (A3 or A2), printed out heart and lungs (I pulled ours off Google images), scissors, crayons, ruler, pencil and sellotape.

How to make it;

I folded the card in half; from the centre fold, I sketched out the skull.  Using the ruler, we drew our ribs.  We then cut out our skeleton.  The girls then coloured the heart and lungs with their own unique designs!  Whilst the girls were finishing off their colouring, I stuck the ribs together at the back.  If your children are older, they will be able to do this themselves, but it was a little too fiddly for our girls to do.  Once the rib cage has been secured at the back, stick the heart and lungs inside.  We secured ours using sellotape at the sides.

Hand X-Ray

202004264443342888408177629.jpg

Our girls have fortunately not been in a situation where they have require an x-ray; so we decided to spend a session looking at what x-rays were used for and what they can show us.  After watching some short videos on Youtube aimed at children, explaining what an x-ray is; we created our own x-ray images.

Here is what you’ll need;

Black card, white paint, q tips,scissors, print out of an x-ray (optional), and glue (we used a glue gun).

How to make it;

I painted the girls’ hands with white paint and printed them onto the black card.  We set them aside to dry.  Once dried, we used q tips to represent the different bones.  Handy hint, there are 27 bones in the hand.  To replicate smaller bones, we cut up the q tips before sticking them down.

Lungs

IMG_20200418_000924.jpg

This was one of our favourite activities.  It is a really great way to demonstrate how the lungs inflate and deflate.  By blowing through the straws, you can inflate the lungs; if you suck the air back out, the lungs will deflate.

Here is what you’ll need;

Large empty pop bottle, two paper or silicone straws (we used silicone), 2 balloons (you can add a third if you want to include a diaphragm too), sellotape and a paper cut out of the human torso (optional).

How to make it;

I first attached a balloon to the end of each straw using sellotape; this is admittedly a little fiddly with silicone.  I then fed each straw and balloon through the top of the bottle and secured using sellotape.  I then sketched out the human torso onto pink card and cut out, cutting out a window in the chest area.  Lining up the cut out window with the lungs, I then stuck this down.

Heart

IMG_20200417_145832.jpg

This was another of our favourite activities.  This is great for all ages, from primary school level, through to secondary school. To teach the girls how our heart works, we created a fully pumping heart.  The girls were able to watch the chambers fill and empty; following the route the blood takes.

Here is what you’ll need;

8 glasses, 2 tubs, 4 balloons (we colour coded ours; 2 red, 2 blue to represent the oxygenated and oxygenated blood), fish tank tubing, water, blue food colouring, red food colouring, large sheet/roll of white paper, pens/crayons, and scissors.

How to make it;

After securing the paper to the floor using masking tape, I sketched out our heart and lungs.  Because the girls are so young, I kept this as basic looking as possible.  For older children, you can include more details in the lungs, add in the different heart valves, etc.  I then cut off the bottom of each balloon and loosely stretched them over four of the glasses.  I then pierced holes into the top of each balloon (top red – 3 holes, bottom red – 2 holes, top blue – 2 holes, bottom blue – 3 holes).  Top tip – be very careful to not make the holes too big.  If they are too big, the vacuum seal will be poor, which will hinder the blood flow.  If the balloons have been stretched too tightly whilst piercing the holes, they will potentially pop or rip.  Once the holes have been cut, stretch the balloons so they are nice and tight.  Lay out all cups/tubs as shown above in the picture.  Cut the fish tubing into smaller lengths, ensuring they can reach the bottom of each glass/tub.  Fill the tubs and glasses in the lungs with water that has been dyed using food dye.  We added some into each glass in the heart too.

If the heart has been set up correctly, the water should flow between the tubes when the balloon lids are pushed down.  It may take a few pushes before the water starts to flow through.  If the blood is not flowing it is like to be one of the following reasons; the tubes cannot reach the liquid; the vacuum seal is poor, due to the holes being too large; the water level is too low; you need water in the heart glasses; or more force needs to be applied to the balloon when pushing down.

Digestive System

202004268268167229319219578.jpg

Our youngest loved this activity, mostly because it involved talking about poo! This was a nice visual way for the girls to see the approximate placement of their organs.  Because they are so young, I sketched out the designs for them.  If your children are older, they could sketch out their own designs.

Here is what you’ll need;

Plain t shirts, chopping board or piece of card, pencil and sharpie pens.

How to make it;

Using a pencil, I sketched out the digestive system on some plain t-shirts.  I then placed a chopping board between the layers of the t-shirt to catch any pen that bled through.  Using sharpie pens, we marked over the pencil lines, sectioning off each organ.  For our youngest, we labelled each organ; for our eldest, we left them blank so she could tell us what they were.

Organ Placement

IMG_20200426_131145.jpg

This was the last activity we did related to the internal organs.  I wanted to test how much the girls’ could remember from all of our previous activities.  If I am perfectly honest, I didn’t expect them to remember too much, but they really surprised me!  I want the girls to learn to be resourceful, and seek out help from books if they are ever unsure about something.  I put out a number of our reference books for the girls to refer to if/when needed.  They worked together to put all of the organs in the right place.  They did this a number of times quite happily.  This is again a great activity for all ages; from primary through to secondary.

Here is what you’ll need;

Large roll of white paper, masking tape, pencil, thick black pen, printed out organs (these can be found on Google).

How to make it;

I stuck a large sheet of white paper onto the floor.  We then drew around our eldest in pencil.  Once we had drawn around her, we went over the pencil lines with a thick black pen.  I then laid out the cut out organs around the paper for them to place in the correct location.

The Five Senses

IMG_20200423_141750.jpg

This is an activity I did with our eldest only.  Our youngest is not yet three, so the concept of the different senses is a little complex for her to fully grasp.  Each flower contained a sense centre; each of the petals had different images printed on them.  Our eldest then  matched the petals to the correct senses.  For example; a dustbin would match to smell.  A drum would match to the ear (hearing).

Here is what you’ll need;

5 Printed flower stems, 5 round yellow centres (eyes, ears, nose, hand and mouth images), as many petals as you’d like with images printed on them, corresponding with a sense.

How to make it;

Once you have created or sourced your flowers, there isn’t too much to do.  Our eldest discussed and then constructed the flowers on the playroom floor.

How Our Hand Moves

IMG_20200426_130838.jpg

This was another firm favourite activity; mostly because the girls chased each other around with the movable hands, and attempted to pick each other’s noses with them! This is again great for primary and lower secondary ages.  Using paper straws and string, you are able to replicate the movements of the hand.

Here is what you’ll need;

Card, string, paper straws, pencil, scissors and glue (we used a glue gun).

How to make it;

Using the pencil, I drew around my hand and the girls’ hands.  We then cut out each of the hands.  I then pre-folded the card where each joint in the fingers sit, and then once across the palm, following the natural horizontal line on the upper palm.  We then cut the paper straws into small lengths, replicating the placement of the bones in the fingers. And then longer lengths for the palm of the hand (following the lines of the tendons).  We then placed the straws on the hand, mapping out their placements.  Ensure there is adequate space between each straw to allow the fingers and hand too bend.  If the straws are too close, the movements will be restricted.  Once we were happy with the placement, we stuck them down using a glue gun.  We then fed the string from the top of the finger, through the straws; securing the string at the top of the finger using a glue gun.

Eyes

IMG_20200427_134216.jpg

This was a novel activity for the girls to do.  I had contemplated a number of different activities, but I wanted something low prep, low mess and easy to do with them.

Here is what you’ll need;

Plain white paper (square shaped), colours, thick black pen/felt tip.

How to make it;

Tutorials for origami eyes can be easily found on Youtube.

Ears

IMG_20200428_134849.jpg

Trying to grasp the concept of sound waves can be difficult for young children, because they are invisible to the eye.  I wanted to show the girls through a very easy experiment the effect of sound waves.  Using a balloon, some rice and my phone, I was able to show how sound waves cause the ear drum to vibrate.

Here is what you’ll need;

A glass, balloon, a few grains of rice and a phone with a good speakers/or a speaker.

How to make it;

Cut the base of the balloon off and stretch the balloon over the glass.  Place a few grains of rice on the top of the balloon.  Select a song with a strong base; we used TLC’s No Scrubs.  Hover the speaker directly over the balloon and play the song (the louder the better).  This should cause the balloon the vibrate and the rice to bounce.

Teeth

We did two different activities for this session.  Both were easy prep, and activities that the girls could do with little help from me (ideal if you have work to do).

For our first activity, the girls cleaned a laminated tooth; for the second, they cleaned a pop bottle tooth, that was covered in play-doh.

IMG_20200429_132818 (2).jpg

This is a nice, easy activity that young children are able to do with little input from parents.  Our girls cleaned their tooth for about 5 minutes before it was fully clean.

Here is what you’ll need;

White paper, a printer, scissors, laminator and laminating pouch, tooth brush, and a board pen.

How to make it;

I pulled up an image of a tooth from Google images; and printed it onto plain white printer paper.  I then cut the tooth out and laminated it.  Once laminated, I trimmed off the excess, leaving a small border around it (it helps prevent it coming apart over time).  I drew patches of dirt on the laminated tooth using a board pen.  The girls then used a tooth brush to clean off the board pen.

IMG_20200429_133653.jpg

The girls love this second activity; they spent about 15 minutes cleaning the tooth.  It is great for building awareness on how food can get stuck in teeth, but also works on their fine motor skills.

Here is what you’ll need;

Bottle, white paint, play-doh, scissors, play-doh or baking tools for cleaning the tooth.

How to make it;

I cut the base of a pop bottle off, and painted it white.  You want to use a bottle that has a bumpy bottom, rather than a smooth base.  Once I had painted it, I set it aside to dry fully. Once dry, I stuck the play-doh into the crevices.  The girls were then given a series of baking/decorating tools to choose from to clean the doh off the tooth.

The girls and I have really enjoyed covering the human body as a topic; we have now moved onto ‘Under the Sea’.  Keep an eye out on my Instagram for all of our Under the Sea activities.

Elisabeth

 

Don’t forget to follow my social media accounts;

Instagram @littlecupofmum

Facebook @littlecupofmum

Pinterest @littlecupofmum

Twitter @littlecupofmum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s