Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Systems of the Body - Part 1

A few weeks back, we started our newest unit study. For several years now, I have intended to teach the kids about the different systems of the body, and now was finally the time. This unit will go on for several weeks, as there are so many different systems to cover. But here are the pictures from our first few weeks.

We kicked off our unit by studying the skeletal system. The kids did a few pages about our bones, and they labeled each of the major ones. One of the pages they were to color and label was a picture of the arm, and it also showed the ball and socket joint in the shoulder. Little Man, as usual, did exactly what I asked of him as quickly as possible, and he was off to play. Britches, on the other hand, decided to cut hers all apart and then put it back together again using brads, so she could have a movable model of her arm.

It just so happened that I had boiled and de-boned a chicken that morning, so, as we were talking about ball and socket joints, we examined them with the chicken skeleton. As an experiment, we took 2 of the chicken bones, placed each in a small glass jar, covered one with water and the other with vinegar, and we let each sit for about 4 days. After that time, we took each bone out and compared them to see what, if anything, had changed. They found out that the bone in water was still strong. But the vinegar, being an acid, had leached the calcium from the bone and made it spongy. And then we went on to talk about the importance of calcium in keeping your bones strong.

We also broke open the spongy chicken bone to examine the inside. They were able to see the hard outer bone and the inner spongy bone, and we talked about the marrow where blood is made.

And lastly, I had each of them play an online skeleton game where they matched the bone to the place in the body. Here is the link where the game is found. It was a pretty cool game, and really challenging. Each level increased in difficulty.

Next, we moved on to the nervous system, and for an entire week, we were "brainy"! It was a really fun week! We started out by learning the different parts that make up the nervous system; the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves. Then we talked about the function of each part.

In order to better understand the different parts of the brain, we made brain hats!! And they were FUN! Here is the link so you can make your own. I will be visiting this site again often, because she has AMAZING things to use in your homeschool or just fun learning!

I also found a printable game at that same web site,, called "Ectomy." I printed it off, and, while playing it, the kids were concreting in their brains what the job is for each brain part. I also pointed out to them that, if there is even one part of your brain that doesn't function correctly, some other part of your body will not work correctly. Our brain tells every part of our body what to do, and it must be working properly to do that.

And this last week, we have learned all about the circulatory system. First, they learned the different parts of the body that make up this system. It includes our heart, our blood, and our blood vessels (which include our veins and arteries). We started off by talking about the heart. They made a paper model of how the heart works and pumps the blood into and out of the different chambers. I found this template years ago (around Valentine's one year, when we learned the basics of the heart), but I can't remember where it was. So I don't have a link to it. But here are the pictures of the kids with their hearts.

They colored the right side blue and the left side red, because the right side takes in the blood that has no oxygen in it, and the red side is pumping out the blood that now does have oxygen. We used blue and red colored thread to show how it flows into the heart from the body, back out into the lungs to get more oxygen, back to the heart, and then out to the body to deliver that oxygen.

We read several books about how the heart works, and they learned that the heart is the most important organ in the body. They did an experiment to understand the difference in cardiac muscle and all other muscles in their bodies. I had each of them squeeze a ball for half a minute the same number of times their heart would beat in that time. They each noted how their hand and arm was getting tired, and they couldn't do that for much longer. But our heart, being made of special cardiac muscle, never gets tired and never has to be reminded to keep pumping. It pumps all day long every day for your entire life, and it doesn't get tired.

We talked about the different things to do to keep our hearts strong and healthy, like eating healthy foods and exercising, and also staying away from bad things, like alcohol and cigarettes.

Then, we got online to look at pictures of artificial hearts. They learned about the first man, back in the 80's, to ever receive an artificial heart, and they saw the differences in that heart and the artificial heart scientists have created now. But no matter how great the new artificial hearts are, none will ever be as good as the one God gave us.

And today, we talked specifically about our blood and the different things that make up our blood. We read a book telling the 4 parts of the blood, and then we made a candy model to help them visualize each part.

Our model started out with some red hots, which represented the red blood cells. Britches re-told me exactly what those blood cells do in our bodies. They are like a delivery man, delivering oxygen to all the cells in our bodies, and they also act like a trash pick-up guy, picking up the waste from each of the cells. Next, we added some mini-marshmallows to represent the white blood cells, and Little Man told me the the job of these cells. Our white blood cells are like an army in our body, defending our borders and attacking if an enemy germ tries to get in. They capture the germ, and then kill it. We added sprinkles next to represent the platelets in our blood. Little Man said these were like a cowboy who lassos the red blood cells together when we get a cut, so it makes a big clot, and then we don't bleed to death. And lastly, we poured corn syrup all over the top of our model. This represented our plasma, and I told them it was like the lazy river at Six Flags, moving and carrying all the other cells to all the parts of our body. Little Man said that, if we didn't have plasma, the red and white blood cells and the platelets would be like sitting ducks. They couldn't move through the body.

These are only the first 3 of many body systems that we will be studying over the next few weeks. But so far, each of the kids, including Little Sister, are having a blast learning, and, because of all the fun ways we are approaching this, they can remember! I'm not just giving them a book to read, and then telling them to answer some questions on a page. The are doing "hands on" learning, and it is so FUN!!

1 comment:

  1. I could have used the hat in my college course!!!! LOVE it all! awesome work!


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess