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Doin' the Bone Dance and Other Creative Ways to Learn Bone Anatomy

Updated on January 5, 2015

Use Skeleton Puzzle

Skeleton Puzzle
Skeleton Puzzle | Source

Teach Children About Bones

Teaching children about bone anatomy can be made a bit easier and a whole lot more fun by using some songs, dances, quizzes and other innovative educational tools.

The idea for this lens came after watching an episode of Hannah Montana in 2007, where she (actually her dad) comes up with a song and dance, "Doin' the Bone Dance" as a way of remembering her anatomy for a test. I had the catchy, song get in my head and wondered how effective it might be in teaching children their bone anatomy.

Halloween is a great time to introduce bone anatomy to children. I started using skeleton puzzles to teach children about bone anatomy in 2006. Over the years I have gone into my both of my daughter's classes for six years now using different tools.

I have taught bone anatomy to preschool children, Kindergarteners, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth graders. I used puzzles and songs for the preschool through second graders and other tools as they've gotten older. I've pulled together the different ideas and tools that I've used to teach children from preschool through fifth grade about skeleton anatomy in the "Teaching with Skeletons at Halloween".

Teaching children about skeletons, especially at Halloween is a helpful way for them to learn how to be less afraid of skeletons as symbols of death. I've discovered these tools, songs and quizzes are an effective, interactive way to teach children about the bones in the body and to be less afraid of skeletons at Halloween.

This lens provides a review and information about creative, innovative ways of teaching children about the anatomy bones. You'll find ways to include singing, dancing, puzzle building, websites and more to help children learn their bones. For even more information see the "Teaching with Skeletons at Halloween" lens.

Also included is a section at the end with links to old historical anatomy books where the images of skeletons are available online for use.

Image: Skeleton Floor Puzzle available on Amazon.

Educational Tools for Teaching Children Bone Anatomy

There are various educational resources featured in this lens that can be used to start teaching bone anatomy to children. The list of all of them is include below:

  1. The Bone Dance - A Song by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus
  2. Skeleton Floor Puzzle - A Large Floor Puzzle
  3. Glow in the Dark Skeletons - Puzzles, Decals
  4. The Bone Bounce - A Song by Teacher Lucy Jensen
  5. Skeleton X-rays - Another Teaching Resource
  6. The Big Story on Bones - A Website
  7. Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones - A Traditional Folk Song
  8. Dem Bones - The Wiggles
  9. Historical Skeleton Images
  10. Dia De Los Muertos - Day of the Dead

To make the anatomy learning easier on the teacher, I have bolded the bone anatomy terms in the songs and information.

Teacher and Parents need to review the resources, videos and songs before sharing to ensure they are alright for their children.

Skeletons in October Article

Skeletons in October
Skeletons in October | Source

Skeletons in October: Scary Death Symbols or an Opportunity to Teach?

As a physician with a background in Thanatology (death education), I have a different perspective on using skeletons as teaching tools.

I shared this perspective and thoughts about the experiences I have had with using skeletons to teach in the classroom in the article that came out in the Forum in October 2009, "Skeletons in October: Scary Death Symbols or an Opportunity to Teach Bone Anatomy to Young Children?" This article was featured under the Teaching Thanatology (Death Education) section.

The article is available at our website, Skeletons in October for those who are interested in reading the article.

Source: Dyer KA. October 2009. Skeletons in October: Scary Death Symbols or an Opportunity to Teach Bone Anatomy to Young Children? ADEC Forum: The quarterly publication of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Vol 35, No. 4 p. 20.

Doin' the Bone Dance

Doin' the Bone Dance - Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana Teaches Anatomy

One example of a "learning your bones" song comes from a 2007 episode of Hannah Montana.

In this episode one of Hannah's songs, "Nobody's Perfect," gets converted by a young Miley Cyrus (and her dad) into a memory aid song to help her learn and remember her bone anatomy for a test.

Take a look at the Video clip, the lyrics and my assessment of how well this might work as a teaching aid to teach Hannah Montana fans anatomy.

Doin the bone Dance with Hannah Montana on YouTube

In this Hannah Montana episode, a very young Miley comes up with an innovative way of learning her anatomy bones, dubbed as her teacher as being "It's the best study technique I've ever seen."

Doin the bone Dance - Video Clip

Everybody Knows the Bones - Word Hunt

Bone Word Hunt
Bone Word Hunt | Source

Using Everybody Knows the Bones in the Classroom

One of the ways that I used Hannah Montana's Bone Dance song was to turn it into a bone word hunt for the kids.

There aren't a whole lot of bones to be found in the song, to it takes a bit of looking by the kids.

Download and print out the image if you want to use it in the classroom.

Number of the Bones in The Bone Dance

To assess Hannah Montana's "Bone Dance" as a teaching method, I went through and counted the number of bones 'taught.'

Number of Bones Identified: 10

Names of Bones Identified in the Bone Dance:

Lower Leg and Foot Bones

  • Phalanges
  • Metatarsals
  • Tarsals
  • Fibula
  • Tibia
  • Patella

Arm Bone

  • Ulna

Skull Bones

  • Parietal
  • Temporal
  • Frontal

Another "Doin' the Bone Dance" Video

Another clip of the Hannah Montana episode where Miley uses the Bone Dance Song to learn her anatomy bones.

Bone Dance With Words - Video Clip

Review of the Bone Dance as a Teaching Method

So, just how well can Miley Cyrus a.k.a Hannah Montana teach Anatomy?

The Bone Dance - Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus

The appeal here is going to be a resource that will work with Hannah Montana fans and not work as well for those who are not Hannah fans. The fan base is girls age 6-14.

Ages: Girls ages 5-14.

Names and Number of Bones Identified: 10

Pluses:

The lyrics are catchy and a familiar tune to the Hannah Montana Fans. In addition to the song there is a dance that will get young fans dancing the Bone Dance and having fun.

Minuses:

The Bone Dance Song only includes 10 bones. Younger children (preschool age, Kindergarten) and maybe some of the teachers may have problems figuring out the dance moves and which bones are being identified.

When singing the song, my Kindergartener identified her tibia in her lower arm, not her lower leg.

Overall:

The song may be a fun introduction for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders, because it does get them moving. It may be more effective in combination with a Skeletal puzzle or model.

Older children and boys will probably need something different.

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Preschoolers, Kindergarteners and First Graders

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Skeleton Floor Puzzle
Skeleton Floor Puzzle | Source

Skeleton Floor Puzzle Lesson

Supplies used:

  • Skeleton Floor Puzzle
  • Dancing Skeleton Project - from The Toy Maker
  • Skeleton Stickers
  • Plastic Skeleton Halloween toys
  1. The Skeleton Floor Puzzle has 15 pieces, so 15 students can each have a piece of the puzzle to assemble the skeleton.
  2. Extra children can be used to help assemble the puzzle.
  3. Once the puzzle is assembled, have the children stand up next to the skeleton to see how they measure up to the skeleton (most of the younger children are still shorter).
  4. Dancing Skeleton Project from The Toy Maker can be passed out as another activity for the children to assemble
  5. Skeleton stickers or small plastic skeletons (not for preschoolers who are still a choking hazard) can be passed out as fun take homes from the activity.

Skeleton Floor Puzzle in the Amazon Spotlight

Skeleton Floor Puzzle
Skeleton Floor Puzzle

The Learning Resources' Skeleton Floor Puzzle is an excellent way of introducing bone anatomy to younger children.

This is the puzzle that I've used with both of my daughters' classes about bones when they were in preschool, kindergarten and first grade. I also gifted one to the teacher.

 

A Skeleton Floor Puzzle - A Large Floor Puzzle

In Fall 2006 a bit before Halloween, I found the Learning Resources' Skeleton Floor Puzzle and ordered it.

As a physician I wanted to teach my daughter's classes a bit about their bones. As a parent and a thanatologist (death, dying and bereavement educator) I also wanted them to learn how to be a bit less fearful of skeletons, one of the typical symbols used of death, especially at Halloween.

I quickly realized that this skeleton puzzle would be good for:

  1. Teaching Bone Anatomy
  2. De-sensitizing children to the scary skeleton figures at Halloween, be teaching them what a skeleton really was.

I used the Skeleton Floor Puzzle as an educational tool/visual aid in both of my daughters' class rooms (1st grade and Pre-Kindergarten). My mother used it in one of the preschool settings.

In all three of the classes, the kids were fascinated and very curious about the skeleton puzzle. No one went around screaming because it was a skeleton. Instead everyone wanted to help put the puzzle together and then see how tall they measured up to the puzzle.

Note: Once assembled the foam puzzle pieces measure 4 ft tall about the size of the first graders, taller than the Pre-Kindergartners.

Human Body Floor Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Human Anatomy 2-Sided Jumbo Jigsaw Floor Puzzle (100 pcs, over 4 feet tall)
Melissa & Doug Human Anatomy 2-Sided Jumbo Jigsaw Floor Puzzle (100 pcs, over 4 feet tall)

A large life size (four feet) 100 piece floor puzzle from Melissa and Doug. One side of the puzzle shows the human skeletal structure and the other the internal organs.

Recommended for children 8 years and above

 

Number of Bones Identified in the Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Looking at the Skeleton Floor Puzzle as a tool to teach basic bone anatomy.

Number of Bones Puzzle Pieces: 15

Number of Bones Identified: ~ 12

Names of Bones Identified in the Skeleton Floor Puzzle:

I have identified the bones by the puzzle piece the bone is on. Each puzzle piece is labeled on reverse side with the body part and bone name.

  • * Head - Skull
  • * Rib Cage and Spine
  • * Hips and Pelvis
  • * Left Upper Arm - Humerus
  • * Right Upper Arm - Humerus
  • * Left Lower Arm - Radius and Ulna
  • * Right Lower Arm - Radius and Ulna
  • * Left Hand
  • * Right Hand
  • * Left Upper Leg - Femur
  • * Right Upper Leg - Femur
  • * Left Lower Leg - Tibia and Fibula
  • * Right Lower Leg - Tibia and Fibula
  • * Left Foot
  • * Right Foot
Children also learn about symmetry in the body, since the puzzle, like the body, uses right and left pieces, so students need to be aware of the right and left sides of the body.

Playing with the Foam Skeleton Puzzle

Playing with the Foam Skeleton Puzzle
Playing with the Foam Skeleton Puzzle | Source

Review of the Skeleton Floor Puzzle to Teach Bone Anatomy

What Kind of a Teaching Tool is the Skeleton Floor Puzzle?

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

The Skeleton Floor Puzzle is an educational tool especially developed by the Learning Resources to teach the bones to children.

Ages: 4 - 6 manufacturer. (3 - 7 our tested audience.)

Listed as Kindergarten + on the box and the manufacturer's recommended ages are 4 - 6. We used this with two Pre-Kindergarten classes with 2 - 3 without any problems, since the skeleton wasn't presented as anything scary. We also used the puzzle with a class of first graders, some of whom were already 7. They did not get bored.

Number of Bones Identified: ~ 12 (Some are duplicates)

Pluses:

Children interact with the puzzle by assembling it and then playing with it once done. The large foam pieces make it easy for children to put together the puzzle.

The 15-piece puzzle is 4' tall when assembled, making it life-size for younger kids. Once assembled, all of our children wanted to see how they measured up to the puzzle in height.

None of the children in three classes when running from the room because it was a skeleton. They were fascinated with the puzzle, so it ended up being a good way to get them involved.

Minuses:

There are only 15 puzzle pieces, so if you want to plan an activity where each child gets to put together a piece of the puzzle, then you need to make sure you only have 15 children, or assemble the puzzle twice.

Overall:

Since this was created as an educational tool by Learning Resource, a company specializing in innovative, hands-on educational materials for classrooms worldwide and learning toys, this is a good hands-on resource.

I think it works best in combination with something else, like the Bone Dance or the Bone Bounce Song to help reinforce the bones in song.

Hugh the Wooden Skeleton

Second Grade Class

Hugh the Wooden Skeleton

Safari Ltd Human Wooden Skeleton Kit
Safari Ltd Human Wooden Skeleton Kit

This wooden puzzle is a large 25 inches height is perfect for classroom presentations.

I ordered one of these and used it as a project my daughter's second grade class this fall.

It was a challenging project for second graders to assemble, but they seemed to enjoy the 3-D puzzle assembly.

 

Human Wooden Skeleton

Supplies used:

  • Hugh the Human Skeleton
  • Skeleton Handout
  1. Divide the class up into groups to assemble Hugh the Human Skeleton.
  2. Have someone be the 'map reader' to read the instructions and follow along as the puzzle pieces get punched out.
  3. Have an adult carefully punch out the pieces, but have the students decide on the pieces to punch.
  4. Carefully and patiently begin assembling Hugh the Human Skeleton according to directions.
  5. Even though the numbered pieces easily fit together without glue, the skeleton may be helped with a bit of glue.
  6. The skeleton has over a hundred pieces, so requires a bit of patience to assemble.
  7. The Skeleton Handout with names of the bones can be passed out as a way to reinforce the skeleton anatomy.

Note: Assembling the skeleton was a bit of a challenge, even for an adult.

Manufacturers of Innovative Learning Toys for Children

Links to the two companies who manufacturer the Skeleton Floor Puzzle and Hugh the Human Skeleton Kit.

Human Skeleton Science Kit

Wild Republic Science Kit Human Skeleton
Wild Republic Science Kit Human Skeleton

This human skeleton comes from Wild Republic. The kit features 18 phthalate-free plastic pieces that can be assembled to created a complete skeleton.

The skeleton is pretty small 6.75'' H x 5.25'' W x 2.38'' D so good for one on one, but not the best for classroom demonstration.

The kit is designed for children 8 years and older with adult supervision.

 
Puzzled Human Skeleton 3D Jigsaw Puzzle (50-Piece), 3 x 4 x 15"
Puzzled Human Skeleton 3D Jigsaw Puzzle (50-Piece), 3 x 4 x 15"

This wooden puzzle is a smaller 15 inches in height. Might be more useful as a resource for students to use individually.

$4.95

 

Skeleton Puzzles for Teaching About Anatomy to Children

These layered wooden puzzles make it easy for children to see five different layers in the body (skin, muscular, digestive and respiratory) in addition to the skeletal system.

Girl Wooden Layer Puzzle

Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle Girl
Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle Girl

For Ages 4 Years And Older. This 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle shows the various layers of a girl body, down to the skeletal system.

 

Girl Wooden Layer Puzzle

Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle Boy
Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle Boy

For Ages 4 Years And Older. This 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle shows the various layers of a boy body, down to the skeletal system.

 

Wall Decal Skeletons

Fun with Skeleton Wall Decal

Skeleton Wall Decal
Skeleton Wall Decal | Source

Use Wall Decals Skeletons to Teach Bone Anatomy

Wall decal and glow in the dark Skeletons whether to assemble as a 3-D skeleton, a decorative hanging skeleton or a skeleton wall decal to place on a classroom, bedroom or bathroom wall are extra fun once the lights go out.

The glow in the dark skeletons lend themselves to being used as a part of Halloween decorations, so they can be left up for some time.

With the skeletons hanging around for a while, students (and teachers) can test their knowledge about bone anatomy, to see how much they are learning and can remember.

Wall Decal Skeletons available on Amazon.

Skeleton Wall Decal

RoomMates PJ2002SCS Build A Skeleton Peel & Stick Halloween Wall Decal
RoomMates PJ2002SCS Build A Skeleton Peel & Stick Halloween Wall Decal

A fun way to assemble a skeleton, that can be applied to a wall or a cabinet.

 

Glow in the Dark Skeletons Bones

U.S. Toy USTMU75 16 Piece Glow in the Dark Skeleton Box of Bones Action Figure
U.S. Toy USTMU75 16 Piece Glow in the Dark Skeleton Box of Bones Action Figure

For fun once the lights go out, this is a small skeleton.

 

Glowing Skeleton Puzzles on eBay

More Skeleton Puzzles that glow in the dark are being auctioned for purchase on eBay.

Eyewitness - Skeleton DVD

Eyewitness: Skeleton
Eyewitness: Skeleton

This DVD is an ideal introduction to anatomical science (anatomy) for young children and tweens.

The narration is done by Martin Sheen.

 

The Bone Bounce

The Bone Bounce - A Song by Teacher Lucy Jensen

The Bone Bounce Song was adapted by Teacher Lucy Jensen from the popular and familiar children's tune "If You're Happy and You Know It."

This song has an advantage of being adapted by a teacher, who is used to educating students.

This is also the song that we used with my daughter's first grade class along with the interactive Skeleton Floor Puzzle as a way of reinforcing each other.


Bone Bounce Skeleton

Bone Bounce Skeleton
Bone Bounce Skeleton | Source

The Bone Bounce

Tune: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

By: Lucy Jensen

Put your fingers on your cranium, on your cranium.

Put your fingers on your clavicle, on your clavicle.

Put your right hand on your sternum,

Put your left hand on your sternum,

Find your bones; find your bones; find your bones.

Put your hand on a humerus, on a humerus.

Put your hand on a radius, on a radius.

Put your right hand on an ulna,

Put your left hand on an ulna,

Find your bones; find your bones; find your bones.

Put your hands on your ribs, on your ribs.

Put your hands on your hips, on your hips.

Put your right hand on a femur,

Put your left hand on a femur,

Find your bones; find your bones; find your bones.

Put your hand on a fibula, on a fibula,

Put your hand on a tibia, on a tibia,

Put your phalanges on your phalanges,*

Put your phalanges on your phalanges,

Find your bones; find your bones, find your bones.

*Translates to: Put your fingers on your toes.

Source: Lucy Lane. The Bone Bounce. Carl's Corner. Featured Resource for Halloween.

Note on Copyrights from Cherry Carl:

Lucy Jensen reserves all rights to her lovely lyrics and songs, which means that you may not change the wording or reproduce it for commercial sales.

Classroom teachers may copy them for use in their classrooms, and make charts for their children. Please make sure that you put Lucy Jensen's name on anything you reproduce or enlarge.

A Skeleton Handout for The Bone Bounce - Key to the Bone Bounce Song

This is a skeletal graphic that is available as a handout to used with the song lyrics. It includes an image of the skeleton with 13 bones, or bone groups labeled.

The Bone Bounce Skeleton

The Bone Bounce Skeleton
The Bone Bounce Skeleton | Source

Number of the Bones Identified in The Bone Bounce Song

Assessing The Bone Bounce Song as a Teaching Method for Learning Bone Anatomy

Number of Bones Identified: 13 (Phalanges are identified twice)

Names of Bones Identified in the Bone Bounce Song:

This is the key developed by Lucy for the names of the bones. Use this key to refer to when teaching this song:

  • Cranium: braincase (top of skull)
  • Clavicle: collar bone
  • Sternum: breast bone
  • Humerus: upper arm
  • Radius: forearm bone on the thumb side
  • Ulna: forearm bone on the little finger side
  • Femur: thigh bone
  • Phalanges: toe and finger bones
  • Tibia: shin bone
  • Fibula: leg bone

A Review of the Bone Bounce Song

How does this song work as a method to teach anatomy?

The Bone Bounce Song

This song has the advantage of being developed by an educator to the tune of a familiar song, which broadens the appeal of the song.

Ages: 3 - 8, both boys and girls.

Number of Bones Identified: 13 (phalanges in hands and feet)

Pluses:

In addition to being set to the recognizable song, "If You're Happy and You Know It" The Bone Bounce Song encourages children to get up and dance, or at least move, with the interactive lyrics.

The Bone Dance Song comes with a key and a diagram to help teachers brush up on their anatomy. The handout of the skeleton diagram can also be given to the children for them to use and review.

Minuses:

Using this song requires that you know the words to the song "If You're Happy and You Know It." It would have been even more useful if more bones were identified.

Overall:

The Bone Bounce Song may be a good introduction for Bone Anatomy for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders, especially in combination with the Skeleton Floor puzzle or a Skeleton Model.

Older children and boys will probably need something more advanced.

Skeleton X-rays

Human X-Rays on Film

True To Life Human X-Rays
True To Life Human X-Rays

These life-size human x-rays up to the light or use them on a light table and see every authentic detail of a real skeleton.

 

Using Skeleton X-rays to Teach Bone Anatomy

The teaching tool that I found when the children were a bit older was a set of x-rays of the bones that can be used to teach skeleton anatomy.

I used the X-rays and the wall decals to teach 4th and 6th graders.

This set of 18 X-rays can be arranged together to create an entire body that is about the height of a child (5 feet).

The 18 pieces can be arranged together to reproduce the entire body of a young adult 5 feet (1.5 m) tall.

Also includes a teacher guide with reproducible artwork and information on radiography.

The manufacturer recommends this for children 5 and over.

Skeleton X-rays

Skeleton X-Rays
Skeleton X-Rays | Source

More Resources on X-rays on Amazon

Books on x-rays at different levels. The X-Ray: See Through the World Around You book takes a look at normal things being x-rayed.

Jessica's X-Rays

Jessica's X-Ray
Jessica's X-Ray

A book with pictures of real x-rays that may help children who have had broken arms to better understand what is going on with the strange pictures being taken.

Recommended for grades 1 - 3

 

The X'ed-Out X-Ray

The X'ed-Out X-Ray (A to Z Mysteries)
The X'ed-Out X-Ray (A to Z Mysteries)

A mystery story where X-rays may hold a clue.

Recommended for 1 to 4th grades

 

A Look at a Walking Skeleton on YouTube

Medical animation of walking skeleton from www.medflix.com

Medical Animation of Walking Skeleton

The Big Story of Bones

The Big Bones Skeleton

The Big Story on Bones
The Big Story on Bones | Source

The Big Story on Bones

An Online Resource from Kids Health

"The Big Story on Bones" website has information about all the major bone groups in a series of fun articles presented at a level that children can understand.

The Skeleton image featured in this segment is the image from the Big Story on Bones site.

Segments

The site includes segments on:

  • What are Bones Made Of?
  • How Bones Grow
  • Your Spine
  • Your Ribs
  • Your Skull
  • Your Hands
  • Your Legs
  • Your Joints
  • Taking Care of Your Bones

More About KidsHealth

KidsHealth is the largest and most visited site on the Web. The site provides doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence for children and their parents.

Source: KidsHealth. The Big Story on Bones. My Body.

Number of the Bones Identified in The Big Story on Bone

Assessing The Big Story on Bones as a Teaching Method for Learning Bone Anatomy

Number of Bones Identified on the diagram: ~ 13

Number of Bones Identified on the website: > 13

Names of Bones Identified in the Big Story on Bone skeleton diagram:

  • Skull
  • Fixed Joint - Parieto-Temporal Joint
  • Vertebra
  • Sternum
  • Ball and Socket Joint - Shoulder Joint
  • Rib
  • Radius
  • Ulna
  • Humerus
  • Femur
  • Tibia
  • Fibula
  • Hinge Joint - Knee (Patella)

This diagram also includes three types of joints in the body:

  1. Fixed Joint - Parieto-Temporal Joint
  2. Ball and Socket Joint - Shoulder Joint
  3. Hinge Joint - Knee

A Review of The Big Story on Bones Website

How well does "The Big Story on Bones" Website Teach Anatomy?

The Big Story on Bones

The Big Story on Bones is one of the subsections of the "My Body" Section on the Kids Health website.

The Kids Health site provides doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence for children and their parents.

Ages: School age 6 - 10 (12).

This site requires some reading and the ability to use a computer.

Number of Bones Identified: ~ 13

Pluses:

The website has been reviewed by Physicians for information and accuracy.

The site also offers interactive Flash versions.

The Big Story on Bone webpage identifies even more bones that just the diagram. Also provided is information on how to pronounce the various bones.

Minuses:

This site requires some reading, there is a lot of text on the page, so is more geared towards older children, who are able to use a computer and read.

The site has some of it's information and resources as an interactive Flash version. This requires Flash being installed on a computer. There is a non-flash version available.

Dem Dry Bones

Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones - A Traditional Folk Song

How Well Does This Traditional Song Work as a Method to Teach Anatomy?

"Dem Bones" or "Dry Bones" or "Dem Dry Bones" is a well-known traditional spiritual, often used to teach basic bone anatomy to young children.

Most of us have heard some variation of this traditional folk song...

  • The head bone connected to the neck bone...
How well does this familiar song teach bone anatomy?

Skeleton Toy

Skeleton Toy
Skeleton Toy | Source

Dem Bones - Dem Dry Bones

A Traditional Folk Song

Take a look at the lyrics for "Dem Bones" or "Dry Bones" or "Dem Dry Bones" on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Kids' Page.

You may discover that the song is much longer and a bit scarier than most of us may remember.

The traditional lyrics include such lines as:

  • "Oh those skeleton bones, Oh mercy how they scare!"
  • "Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun.'"

Dem Bones - The Abbreviated Version

I have included the briefer version.

This is the version that I can remember hearing as a child, the one more traditionally used when teaching children (at least here in California).

Oh the...
The foot bone's connected to the —
leg bone,
The leg bone's connected to the —
knee bone,
The knee bone's connected to the —
thigh bone,
The thigh bone's connected to the —
backbone,
The back bone's connected to the —
neck bone
The neck bone's connected to the —
head bone.
Dem Bones
Dem Bones
Dem Bones

Source:

National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services. Dry Bones (Skeleton Bones).

Photo Source: Oliver Brandt. Toys 5. Royalty Free Use.

The Skeleton Dance

Based on Dem Bones

The Skeleton Dance

The Skeleton Dance from Super Silly Halloween Songs. This version has the right and left hands mirrored so children watching will be able to follow along and do the dance.

Based on "Dem Bones."

The Skeleton Dance - Video

Dem Bones Book

Dem Bones (Avenues)
Dem Bones (Avenues)

Descriptions of the skeletal structures are interspersed with the words of the traditional African American spiritual, "Dem Bones."

Leg bones, ankle bones, and neck bones are described in medical terminology and their structures are explained in simple terms for young readers.

Grade 2-4 (Younger if used just as a picture book).

 

(Dem) Dry Bones or Skeleton Bones - Dem Bones - Listen and Sing Along to Dem Bones

This song is just one of many presented by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as a means of introducing kids to music, science and research interests.

Dem Dry Bones for Children

With the Wiggles or St. John Children's Choir

Number of the Bones Identified in The Dem Bones Song

In looking at the Dem Bones Song, the song focuses more on bone areas, or parts of the body rather than bones names.

Number of Bone Areas Identified on the Dem Bones Song: 7

Names of Bone Areas Identified on the Dem Bones Song:

  • * Foot
  • * Leg
  • * Knee
  • * Thigh
  • * Back
  • * Neck
  • * Head

Dem Dry Bones

Dem Dry Bones
Dem Dry Bones

A very child friendly version of Dem Bones.

 

The Wiggles Sing Dem Dry Bones

Since my children have outgrown the Wiggles I didn't know about this version of Dry Bones released by the Wiggles in 2008 on their Pop! Go The Wiggles.

I discovered the Wiggles version when I was searching for examples of the Dem Dry Bones song on YouTube.

For teachers and parents who might be concerned about the song being scary, they should use the Wiggles version. The Wiggles song is not scary at all. As with all of the Wiggles songs, their version is a good one for getting young children up, wiggling and learning.

Watch and listen for yourself.

The Wiggles Wiggle and Dem Dry Bones on YouTube

The Wiggles version of Dem Dry Bones from the Wiggles and Learn TV show.

Review of the Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones Song

How well does " Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones Song" Song Teach Anatomy?

Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

"Dem Bones" or "Dry Bones" or "Dem Dry Bones" is a traditional spiritual, often used to teach basic body parts to young children.

Ages: 3 - 5, Preschool, Kindergarten

Number of Bone Areas Identified: 7

Pluses:

Another interactive song that can get children up and moving while they are learning the parts of the body. The Wiggles version is a good one for getting young children up, wiggling and learning.

Minuses:

As a parent and teacher of death and dying, I was a bit concerned in reading through the traditional lyrics for the songs. Lyrics such as "Oh those skeleton bones, Oh mercy how they scare!" and "Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun.'" are going to scare young children, especially at Halloween and not be helpful in desensitizing a fear of death.

The song focuses on body parts rather than bone names.

Overall:

I would recommend using one of the other songs, unless this song is part of someone's cultural background or there is a strong tradition of using this song. I would watch children's reactions for the scary parts and not overemphasize skeletons as fearful objects.

The Wiggles song is not scary at all. For those with concerns about the song being scary, they should use the Wiggles version.

Personally, I would use one of the other songs, the Bone Bounce or Bone Dance if I was interested in using songs, unless it was the Wiggles version.

The Wiggles version of Dry Bones would be a fun way to get preschoolers and Kindergarteners up, moving and learning.

Historical Skeleton Images

Historical Skeletons

Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams
Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams | Source

Resources for Historical Skeleton Images

There are many different places on the Internet where you can access old drawings of skeletons that people used to study.

Several of the more prominent old text books and authors:

  • William Cheselden: Osteographia or The anatomy of the bones.
  • Andreas Vesalius: De corporis humani fabrica libri septem.
  • Govard Bidloo: Ontleding Des Menschelyken Lichaams.

These illustrations could be adapted to handouts for students to identify the bones.

Be advised that some of the books, Bidloo's in particular contain dissected illustrations that younger children might find disturbing, so be sure to check the images yourself before sending children or students on an image hunt.

Image Source: Govard Bidloo. Ontleding Des Menschelyken Lichaams.

Table 87. Wikimedia.

Links to Historical Anatomy Archives

The following links should take you to the online archives of many of the historical anatomy books or images of the works on Wikimedia.

These images are in the public domain.

Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead

Altar de Muertos

Altar de Muertos
Altar de Muertos | Source

What is Dia de los Muertos?

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is is celebrated in Mexico and the Southwest states.

This is a holiday that uses skeletons and skulls as part of the decorating.

This time is a celebration of the lives of those who have died coincides with the Christian All Souls and All Saints Days, November 1 and 2 around our Halloween.

This holiday is a time when family and friend gather to decorate the local cemeteries, remember and honor the dead.

Celebrating this holiday is another good way to desensitize children to death.

I think Dia de los Muertos is a much better tradition than our Halloween and a better one to be celebrating, since it honors those who have passed on.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you used any of these resources to teach children about their bones?

Do you have others that you use?

© 2007 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comments on the Doin' the Bone Dance and Creative Ways to Learn Bone Anatomy

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    • HealthfulMD profile image
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      Kirsti A. Dyer 3 years ago from Northern California

      @chrisilouwho: It was quite popular in the Hannah Montana days.

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 3 years ago

      interesting

    • HealthfulMD profile image
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      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @UKMarkWilliam: I'll be teaching bones again this year in the classroom.

    • profile image

      UKMarkWilliam 4 years ago

      This is very interesting and unique.

    • magictricksdotcom profile image

      magictricksdotcom 5 years ago

      It's a fact that information retention is much easier if you use song as a memory device. Excellent and interesting lens.

    • blogalexg profile image

      Alex Graham 5 years ago

      Thank you for this great teaching resource. I will definitely keep it in mind for the future!

      Thanks for sharing,

      Alex

      Celebrity English

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      This is a great way to learn anatomy for kids. Blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen and also on Early Childhood Abilities Encouraged. Hugs

    • profile image

      MissTree 5 years ago

      Great and creative ideas! I hope someone comes up with an idea like this for teaching anatomy to med students, when we have to memorize every single part of every single bone. :)

    • profile image

      travelerme 5 years ago

      nice

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 5 years ago

      Wow, very thorough - these tips will help my kids learn their bones - at 12 and 13 they're both Hannah/Miley fans too so they must have seen that episode ... will make sure to ask and take it from there!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      What a fun idea! Very creative way to remember anatomy.

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      This is great! We'll use many of these ideas when we study the human body. Thank you for the wonderful lens! Liked and blessed.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      @mariaamoroso: Pretty sure I've got this on on Dem Dancing Skeleton Bones lens. ;)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 5 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      What brilliant ways to teach children about bones - blessed.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      Lovely lens! Just for fun - did you see this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS9GHWvB8Cg

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Excellent information on teaching kids about bones and anatomy, wish I had your page back in the day when I was teaching health at school, this would have been a great help to me.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @JoyfulPamela2: My little guy is enjoying these activities. I added this to our anatomy lens so we can find it easier! =D

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Creative and informative! I could have used a few of these in class :)

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Cool! This should help my kiddos (and myself) remember all those names and details! Adding this to my homeschool lens so I can find it next time we study anatomy. Thanks! =D

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      I have never seen Hannah Montana, but surely didn't know that it was an educational program!

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