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Skeletal and Muscular Systems Lesson

Updated on September 5, 2016
Working wooden model of the bones of the hand and tendons
Working wooden model of the bones of the hand and tendons

This is part 2 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create edible models of bone parts, use stickers to label the bones on your body, dissect soup bones and muscles, design workouts for individual muscle groups, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings. Another creative mom planned this for our homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, or co-op!

Skeleton system cut from "Considering God's Creation."
Skeleton system cut from "Considering God's Creation."

Systems of the Body

1. Pray. Read & discuss Ezekiel 37:1-14.

2. Review cells and DNA. Introduce the major systems of the body: Endocrine system, Nervous system, Muscular system, Urinary system, Cardiovascular system, Digestive system, Integumentary system, Skeletal system, Respiratory system, Reproductive system, & Lymphatic system. Show a picture of and repeat a mnemonic device to remember each of the systems: Each night my unintelligent cat dives into some really rocky lakes.

3. (Optional) If you are not limited by time, quickly discuss the skeletal system. Pass out the body worksheets from "Considering God's Creation." Have children paste the bones of the skeletal system on the body worksheet. (Listen to the CD Lyrical Life Science: Volume 3: The Human Body while we work on this.)

YOU WILL NEED: pre-cut body and bones worksheet and pieces from "Considering God's Creation" and glue sticks

Eagle's Wings Considering God's Creation (A Creative Biblical Approach to Natural Science)
Eagle's Wings Considering God's Creation (A Creative Biblical Approach to Natural Science)

This is a great addition to every science unit! It is so easy to follow, and it has excellent worksheets that encourage children to really study God's creation. We have used the flower and tree field guide identification worksheets, the human body anatomy cut-and-paste activities, and more. This is something I would recommend to everyone!

 
Lyrical Life Science Volume 3 Image Credit: thecurriculumchoice.com
Lyrical Life Science Volume 3 Image Credit: thecurriculumchoice.com

Lyrical Life Science Volume 3

Throughout our unit on the human body we listened to the CD's from Lyrical Life Science. They have catchy tunes with plenty of substantial scientific material in them! They also include great workbook with fill-in-the-blank pages that go along with the CD. The material would be ideal for upper elementary to middle school aged children, though even my youngest ones have learned the songs from the CD.

How many bones can you count in your body?
How many bones can you count in your body?

Bone Count

4. Tell the children that we will first learn about bones. Ask them which system that is. (Skeletal.) Have the children count the number of bones they have in their hands, in their head/neck/face, and from their toes up to their shoulders. Add the numbers together for each child. Who came closest to 206? Mention how we have 206 bones and more than half are in our hands and feet. (We have 54 bones in our hands, and our feet have 52 bones.) Ask the children why they think they were not able to count all the bones in their bodies. (Some are well hidden, fused together, on a part that they didn't think to count like on the back, etc.)

5. Read a book about the skeletal system. We read The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino.

YOU WILL NEED: a book about the skeletal system such as The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino or Bend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles by Pamela Hill Nettleton.

Using stickers to label bones in their bodies
Using stickers to label bones in their bodies

Labeling Your Bones

6. Go over the scientific names of some of your bones. Pass out a sheet of printed labels that have each of the bones listed on them. Children can use a reference sheet from the Internet or book for assistance. Have the children place each of the stickers over the named bones on their own bodies. Our stickers included Cranium, Mandible, Maxilla, Scapula, Humerus, Radius, Ulna, Carpals, Metacarpals, Phlanges, Sterum, Costals, Vertebrae, Sacrum, Femur, Tibia, Fibula, Talus, Malleolus, Calcaneus, Tarsals, Metatarsals, Phalanges, Patella, Pelvis, Clavicle.

YOU WILL NEED: stickers containing the above bones and a reference sheet (for example this one from ducksters.com).

Joke #1: What did the femur say to the patella?

I kneed you.

The Inside of Bones

7. Pair children up into groups of 2-5 and pass out pieces of beef femur (soup bone purchased from the grocery store) on plates. Mention each of the parts (periosteum, compact bone, spongy bone, and bone marrow). Have them peel away the periosteum. Give the children toothpicks so that they can scoop out marrow. Mention how some people eat bone marrow because it is high in iron (and considered tasty).

YOU WILL NEED: (per group of children) soup bone, disposable plate, toothpicks or disposable knives, & disposable gloves (optional)

Model of a cross section of a bone
Model of a cross section of a bone

Option 1: Bone Model (Non-edible craft project)

8a. Make a model of a cross section of a bone. Take a 4 inch piece of toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper roll. Use red and blue crayons to draw blood vessels and nerve endings on the tube as it is supplied with blood and nerve tissue. Tape a piece of plastic wrap to the outside of the paper roll. This represents the periosteum, which is the bone's outside layer. The tube itself represents compact bone, which is the hard, dense layer. Next, push some shelf liner into the tube. This represents the spongy bone, which is still hard but less dense than compact bone. Put some crumpled up yellow tissue paper in the middle for the marrow. The yellow marrow stores fat. Place crumpled up red tissue paper pieces at the ends of the tubes. Red marrow produces red and white blood cells. Tape plastic wrap over the ends so that the tissue paper won't fall out.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) a 4-inch piece of toilet paper/paper towel/wrapping paper roll, red and blue crayons, shelf liner, crumpled up red and yellow tissue paper (or red and yellow pompoms), plastic wrap, & tape.

Edible bone model
Edible bone model

Option 2: Edible Bone Model

8b. Lead children in making an edible bone model. *To see the script for what I said during this activity, look below the lesson in Appendix A.*
*Prep: Ahead of time lay out the items that are needed for each child on individual plates with their names on them.*

  • Review each of the parts of the bone and what they do. Have the children guess what they they each of the items will represent in their edible bone model.
  • Tell them that the tortilla is the outermost layer of the bone, the periosteum.
  • Lay the 2 bread pieces in the center of the tortilla. They will be the spongy bone.
  • They can use their spoons to spread the orange jam in the middle of the pieces of bread, as it will be the yellow bone marrow. They should spread the red jam on the top and bottom edge of the bread as it will be the red bone marrow.
  • Lay one strip of the licorice down the middle of the jam to represent the blood vessels. They can put the 2 pieces of bread together like a sandwich.
  • Separate the 2 sugar wafers into 4 pieces and place them around the 4 sides of the bread and jelly sandwich. These are the compact bones.
  • Wrap the whole thing in the tortilla. Wrap 2 pieces of licorice around the outside of the tortilla. These represent the blood vessels and nerves.

Review one more time what each part represents. Set these aside for children to take home. If you are not limited by time, they can eat them then.
YOU WILL NEED: (per child) 1 plate, 1 napkin, 1 small or medium tortilla, 2 strips of white sandwich bread (which would amount to half of a piece of white bread), 2 sugar wafer cookies (preferably strawberry or vanilla), 1 spoonful of strawberry jam/jelly, 1 spoonful of orange jam/jelly (apricot, mango, peach, etc.), 1 disposable spoon, and 3 strings from Twizzlers Pull & Peel (not 78 whole pieces but 78 strings. 1 Twizzlers piece has 9 strands.)

(This idea came from http://science-mattersblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/body-systems-skeletal-system-edible.html .)

www.two-views.com
www.two-views.com

How Broken Bones Heal

9. Ask if anyone has ever broken a bone. Did they have surgery or a cast put over the bone they broke? (Show an x-ray or a picture of an x-ray. Pass around a cast if someone has one.) A bone is strong like steel and concrete, but the spongy bone makes the bone resilient so that it can bounce back after being compressed. There is one main difference in this living tissue as compared to other matter. It has the ability to repair itself. A bone will start healing within one hour of a fracture. That's why it is an emergency when someone breaks a bone. As soon as possible x-rays need to be taken to see if it requires surgery to put the two bones back together. In one hour of a fracture leaking blood from the bone forms a blood clot. After a few days, cells called fibroblasts and osteoblasts make spongy bone in the open area. A callus forms on the bone as it continues to harden and blood vessels regrow over the area. It will continue to harden and be completely healed in 3 months.

YOU WILL NEED: x-ray or picture of an x-ray & cast if someone has one

If you're not limited by time, read this book.

Your Body Battles a Broken Bone
Your Body Battles a Broken Bone

If you're not limited by time, read this book. My children loved how this is written in a superhero fashion. It has great illustrations that keep the attention of children and a highly educational text written as a fast-paced adventure. Even though it used the actual words (osteoblasts, fibroblasts, etc.), because it portrays them as superheros, my children remember their names and love this wonderful picture book.

 
Haversian System model
Haversian System model

Osten

10. (Optional) If you are not limited by time, make a model of Osten. Compact bone is made up of Osten, also called the Haversian System. Hold up some straws. These will represent the Ostens, which are made from thousands of fibers of collagen embedded in mineral salts of calcium and phosphorus, which will be represented by this clay/play-dough. Flatten two lumps of clay/play-dough. The fibers are laid in circular layers. Use the rim of a drinking glass to make an indention in each lump of clay/dough. In one clump make a tower of straws pointing in all directions. In the second lump of clay/dough, make a second tower with the same number of straws placed upright around the indentation. Ask the children which tower they think will be stronger. Test the strength of each tower by placing books on top of it. The ring of straws should be much stronger. The circular pattern of the Osten in our compact bone makes our bones strong and hard.

YOU WILL NEED: 2 lumps of modeling clay or play-dough, a drinking glass, and drinking straws.

11. (Optional) If you are not limited by time, make a model of the arrangement of the Osten/Haversian systems. Give each child a sheet of paper. It represents the periosteum of the bone. Use a few strips of double-sided tape to cover one side of the paper. Fold into a tube with the tape being on the inside. Tape this closed with scotch tape. Stick the straws into the inside of the tube until no more can be added. The straws represent the Osten.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) 4x6 piece of construction paper or cardstock, about 30 straws cut into 6-inch lengths, double-sided tape, scotch tape.

Vertebrae

12. (Optional) If you are not limited by time, create a model of your vertebrae. Briefly talk about the our backbones. Construct a spine using a pipe cleaner (representing the spinal cord) and 3 different colored beads. Fold a knot at the end of a pipe cleaner. Working from bottom to top add 5 lumbar vertebrae of beads of one color. Next, add 12 Thoracic vertebrae of another color. Finally, have the children add 7 cervical vertebrae that is the neck. Shape the spine into an S shape and you have a human vertebrae. Be sure the mention that these are just the 24 articulating vertebrae. There are also 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx that don't bend. As they bend their pipe cleaner spinal cords, they can see just how flexible our column of vertebrae bones is. You can also talk about what it means when someone says they have a slipped disk. "The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body" has a great illustration of this!

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) pipe cleaner, 5 pony beads of 1 color, 12 pony beads of another color, and 7 pony beads of a third color

*If you would prefer to make an edible model of vertebrae using gummy Life Savers, pasta, and pipe cleaners, you can follow the directions at http://journey2excellence.blogspot.com/2011/09/science-sunday-hmmm-let-me-think-about.html .

Eyewitness Visual Dictionaries: The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body (DK Visual Dictionaries)
Eyewitness Visual Dictionaries: The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body (DK Visual Dictionaries)

This has fabulous diagrams of all the parts of the human body including "slipped disks."

 
Rubbing hands with and without lotion to feel the importance of synovial fluid
Rubbing hands with and without lotion to feel the importance of synovial fluid

Joints and Synovial Fluid

13. Introduce what joints are. If someone made a hand model, you can use it to demonstrate the joints in your hands. We have over 200 joints in our body. There are 56 joints in each hand. Some joints allow a lot of movement. Some allow a small amount of movement. Some joints (like the ones in your cranium) hold the bones together but do not allow any movement. Between the joints is synovial fluid, which helps the joints move more easily.

-Have the children their hands together really hard for 20 seconds and then to notice how warm their hands are (heat produced by friction) and how rough it felt.

-Put lotion on each child’s hand and tell them to rub their hands together for 20 seconds again. This lotion is like the synovial fluid that helps your joints not get damaged by friction.

YOU WILL NEED: a bottle of mild scented on unscented hand lotion

(This activity idea came from in Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series) by Jeannie K. Fulbright.)

If you can only get one book for this unit, this is the best option.

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series)
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series)

In addition to a number of picture books and children's books, I read the sections on bones and muscles from this book with my children. If you need only one book for this unit, this would be the best option. It is written in an interesting manner that children can understand, but it still contains "technical" terms so that children will develop the vocabulary they would need for a middle school or high school level biology class. I used what I read from this book during my explanations during many of the activities in this lesson.

 
Moving the elbow, a hinge joint, during Name That Joint
Moving the elbow, a hinge joint, during Name That Joint

"Name That Joint": Types of Joints

14. (Having a game-show-host type of persona while presenting this would be ideal.) We are going to play a quick game of “Find that Joint.” I am going to describe a type of joint, and I want you to show me where that type of joint is in your body by moving it.

  • We will start with a hinge joint. A hinge joint lets bones swing fully in one direction: up and down, but not side to side. (Move your elbows up and down like you are doing bicep curls and kick your legs like you are kicking a ball to give them a hint.) Yes, the elbow and knee have hinge joints! They offer a limited range of motion but are very stable. Move your elbows and knees while saying, “hinge joint.”
  • The pivot joint allows for one bone to twist around another joint, allowing it to rotate or turn from side to side (Shake your head “no” and “yes” to give them a hint.) Yes, the top two vertebrae let your skull pivot from side to side and up and down. Shake your head “no” and then “yes” while you say, “pivot joint.”
  • The ball-and-socket joint is the most flexible joint allowing movement in many directions. (Stretch your shoulders out and around in circles and wiggle your hips around to give them a hint.) Yes, your shoulders and hips have ball and socket joints. They offer a wide range of motion but are less stable than hinge joints. Move your shoulders and hips while you say, “ball-and-socket joint.”
  • A sliding or gliding joint lets two bones that can move separately meet. (Flick your wrists, move around your ankle, and twist around your back to give them a hint.) Yes, your wrists, ankles, and vertebrae/spine have sliding or gliding joints. You have two bones that move separately meet and slide over one another, allowing you to bend and twist. Move around your vertebrae, wrists, and ankles as you say, “sliding joints.”
  • Our last one is tricky, but I think you can guess what it is. A fixed joint is a joint that does not move. There are places in our body that bones come together in our body, but they do not move. (Tap your head as if you are thinking hard.) Yes, we have fixed joints where the bones of our cranium come together. Tap your cranium gently while you say, “fixed joint.”

Thank you for joining me today on “Name that Joint!”

Model of how our arm muscles move
Model of how our arm muscles move

Muscle Groups (Antagonistic Muscles)

15. Discuss the difference between voluntary and involuntary muscles, how many muscles are in the body (more than 650), and how muscles work. Make a model of how our arm muscles move. First have the children flex their biceps and then their triceps. Explain how these 2 muscles work together to move your arm bones. Have the children fold and then unfold an 8" x 1" strip of cardboard in the middle to create a cardboard arm. Have them cut the bottom half into 2 strips to represent the radius and ulna. Cut 2 rubber bands so that they are straight. These represent the biceps and triceps muscles. Tape a rubber band muscle in a straight line to each side of the top part of the cardboard arm (the humerous). As the children pull one rubber band, it will make the section of the arm bend toward each other and contract. This is the action of the biceps. When they pull the rubber band muscle on the reverse side (the triceps), the biceps lengthen and relax. Have them put the cardboard arm in the crook of their elbow and then watch what happens to the rubber bands as they raise and lower their arms.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) 8" x 1" strip of cardboard (cereal box cardboard would work well), scissors, tape, & 2 rubber bands

Dissecting muscle (beef brisket)
Dissecting muscle (beef brisket)

Dissecting Muscles

16. (Optional) If you are not limited by time, dissect a piece of lightly cooked meat (such as beef brisket). Mention how most of the meat we eat is actually the muscle of the animal. Allow children to separate the meat into thin strips of muscle fibers. Discuss how individual muscle cells are wrapped in a cell membrane and connective tissue. They are also bundled together in connective tissue (tendons) in order to securely attach skeletal muscle to bone.

Doing 10 push-ups to work out the pectoral muscles (pecs)
Doing 10 push-ups to work out the pectoral muscles (pecs)

Muscle Names & Physical Training

17. Tell the children that they are going to become physical trainers. They will work in pairs to come up with an exercise for use to do that will target the muscle that they select.

  • Assign each child (or pair of children) a muscle. They will need to locate the muscle on the sheet they have that lists where the muscles are located and then come up with an exercise. Teachers/parents can provide help as needed.
  • Have each child/pair go up to the front one at a time. They should say what muscle they have and the common shortened name if their muscle has one written in parenthesis. They should point to the muscle on their bodies, and then demonstrate the exercise. Everyone should do the exercise. (This should take each pair about 30-45 seconds.)

YOU WILL NEED: 12 strips of paper that each list a different muscle and its common shortened name, if applicable: Deltoids (“Delts”), Biceps, Abdominals (“Abs”), Hamstrings, Frontalis, Triceps, Gastrocnemius (Calves), Latissimus Dorsi (“Lats”), Pectoral (“Pecs”), Gluteus Maximus (“Glutes”), Quadriceps (“Quads”), Trapezius (“Traps”) and papers that show where muscles are located.

Review

18. Review what we learned today. Ask questions such as:

  • What system has to do with our bones? (Skeletal)
  • How many bones do we have in our bodies? (206)
  • Use the scientific name for a bone and show me where it is. [Allow a few children to answer.]
  • What is one job that our bones do? [Allow at least 2 children to answer: give us our shape, make blood cells, store fat, protect vital organs.)
  • What is the thin, tough membrane on the outside of our bones called? (periosteum)
  • What is the periosteum filled with? (blood vessels and nerves)
  • What part of the bone is the hard, white part? (compact bone)
  • What is the name of the less dense type of bone that helps our bones spring back when compressed? (spongy bone)
  • What is the jelly-like material in the middle of the bone called? (marrow)
  • What does marrow do? (red produces red and white blood cell and yellow marrow stores lipids/fat) What is one thing your body does to heal a bone after you have broken it. (It forms a blood clot, fibroblasts and osteoblasts make spongy bone, a callus forms.)
  • What did God put between our joints to protect them from friction? (synovial fluid)
  • Name a type of joint and show me where that joint can be found on your body. (hinge – elbow & knee, pivot – top of your vertebrae, ball-and-socket – shoulders and hips, sliding or gliding – wrists, ankles, and back, fixed – cranium)
  • Tell me something you learned about muscles. [Allow a few children to answer.]
  • What was your favorite part of the lesson today? [Allow each child to answer.]

Joke #2: Why couldn't the skeleton cross the road?

He didn't have the guts to do it!

More of Our Favorite Books on Bones & Muscles

You Can't See Your Bones With Binoculars: A Guide to Your 206 Bones
You Can't See Your Bones With Binoculars: A Guide to Your 206 Bones

This provides a clear explanation about the skeletal system and has engaging illustrations. It would also make a wonderful read aloud book for a class if you are not able to obtain The Skeleton Inside You (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Philip Balestrino.

 
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Skeleton Inside You (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Philip Balestrino - Images are from amazon.comBend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles (The Amazing Body) by Pamela Hill NettletonBones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins You Can't Make a Move Without Your Muscles (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book) by Paul ShowersThe Mighty Muscular and Skeletal Systems: How Do My Muscles and Bones Work? (Slim Goodbody's Body Buddies) by John Burstein
The Skeleton Inside You (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Philip Balestrino - Images are from amazon.com
The Skeleton Inside You (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Philip Balestrino - Images are from amazon.com
Bend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles (The Amazing Body) by Pamela Hill Nettleton
Bend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles (The Amazing Body) by Pamela Hill Nettleton
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins
You Can't Make a Move Without Your Muscles (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book) by Paul Showers
You Can't Make a Move Without Your Muscles (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book) by Paul Showers
The Mighty Muscular and Skeletal Systems: How Do My Muscles and Bones Work? (Slim Goodbody's Body Buddies) by John Burstein
The Mighty Muscular and Skeletal Systems: How Do My Muscles and Bones Work? (Slim Goodbody's Body Buddies) by John Burstein

The Skeleton Inside You (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Philip Balestrino does a great job of explaining the skeletal system in a fun manner. Of all the books, I would recommend this one as the best option for reading aloud to a class. Bend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles (The Amazing Body) by Pamela Hill Nettleton does a great job of explaining how both systems work together in a simplistic manner. The illustrations appeal to even younger children, and the information is quite educational. It is the best book option for preschool or kindergarten aged children. Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins compares human bones and skeletons to various animal's bones. While the book does call humans an animal (which I just skipped over those words), this book does a great job of showing how perfectly God created each animal and their skeletons. That's not something directly mentioned in the book, but is what we discussed after reading the book. You Can't Make a Move Without Your Muscles (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book) by Paul Showers and The Mighty Muscular and Skeletal Systems: How Do My Muscles and Bones Work? (Slim Goodbody's Body Buddies) by John Burstein were also favorites from the large stack of children's books we read through.

Joke #3: Why didn't the skeleton go to the party?

He had no body to go with!

Optional Homework: Lapbook and Hand Model

1. Optional Homework: To find great FREE printable lapbook pages for the skeletal and muscular systems, go to http://www.cyncesplace.com/ .

2. Extra Credit: Find directions on how to build a working model of a hand using cut cereal boxes & string at http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/ . To make a working wooden model of the bones of the hand and tendons (like the one in the picture on the right) go to http://www.chaosscience.org.uk/. (You could use cut pieces of foam instead of wood if needed.)

Bill Nye on the Skeletal & Muscular Systems

Skeletal System Set to Music

School House Rock, Animaniacs (skip the line about the evolution), and Hannah Montanna are also great!

Materials List for This Lesson

*This list does not include materials that were in activities labeled as optional.*

ITEMS FOR FAMILIES TO BRING FOR EACH OF THEIR CHILDREN:

  • A sheet with a skeleton labeled with the bone names such as http://www.ducksters.com/science/list_of_human_bones.php . (One sheet for every 2-3 children.)
  • Stickers with bone names written on them. The children will be labeling themselves with these stickers. You can use any type of sticker. I will be using the small rectangular stickers that are about ¾”x2”. You will need to write 1 bone name per sticker, so you will need 23 stickers. You, the parent, or your child can write the names on the stickers, but they need to be done before co-op begins as this will be one of the first activities we will be doing. If you would prefer, you can make one set for every pair of children and have your children work as pairs. The bone names you will write on your stickers will be: Cranium, Mandible, Maxilla, Humerus, Radius, Ulna, Carpals, Metacarpals, Phlanges, Sterum, Ribs, Vertebrae, Femur, Tibia, Fibula, Talus, Calcaneus, Tarsals, Metatarsals, Phalanges, Patella, Pelvis, Clavicle. (Yes, phlanges does repeat because your fingers and toes have the same name.)
  • A sheet showing where the major muscles are located on the body such as http://www.bayschools.com/Portals/25/PE/Mr.%20Muscle%20Study%20Guide.jpg or http://educacionfisicamaruxamallo.wikispaces.com/The+human+body (One sheet for every 2-3 children.)
  • An x-ray of a broken bone (optional – only if you have one)
  • A cast (optional – only if you have one)

ITEMS TO BE ASSIGNED FOR PEOPLE TO BRING TO SHARE WITH THE CLASS/GROUP:
-a book about the skeletal system such as The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino or Bend and Stretch: Learning About Your Bones and Muscles by Pamela Hill Nettleton

  • (per group of children) soup bone, disposable plate, toothpicks or disposable knives, & disposable gloves (optional)
  • Option 1: Bone Model (Non-edible craft project): (per child) a 4 inch piece of toilet paper/paper towel/wrapping paper roll, red and blue crayons, shelf liner, crumpled up red and yellow tissue paper (or red and yellow pompoms), plastic wrap, & tape
  • Option 2: Edible Bone Model: (per child) 1 plate, 1 napkin, 1 small or medium tortilla, 2 strips of white sandwich bread (which would amount to half of a piece of white bread), 2 sugar wafer cookies (preferably strawberry or vanilla), 1 spoonful of strawberry jam/jelly, 1 spoonful of orange jam/jelly (apricot, mango, peach, etc.), 1 disposable spoon, and 3 strings from Twizzlers Pull & Peel (not 78 whole pieces but 78 strings. 1 Twizzlers piece has 9 strands.)
  • x-ray or picture of an x-ray (from a book or the Internet)
  • a bottle of mild scented on unscented hand lotion
  • (per child) 8" x 1" strip of cardboard (cereal box cardboard would work well), scissors, tape, & 2 rubber bands
  • 12 strips of paper that each list a different muscle and its common shortened name, if applicable: Deltoids (“Delts”), Biceps, Abdominals (“Abs”), Hamstrings, Frontalis, Triceps, Gastrocnemius (Calves), Latissimus Dorsi (“Lats”), Pectoral (“Pecs”), Gluteus Maximus (“Glutes”), Quadracepts (“Quads”), Trapezius (“Traps”)

Edible DNA
Edible DNA

Appendix A: Script for Edible Bone Model

  • Quickly review the parts of the bones and what each part does. Ask the children what they think each of the food items will represent in their edible bone model.
  • Take everything except the tortilla off their plate and place the other items on the napkin. Tell them that the tortilla is the outermost layer of the bone. Who remembers what it is called? (periosteum) [Have children repeat periosteum.] We’ll talk a little bit more about it later.
  • Lay the 2 strips of sandwich bread along the center of the tortilla. Ask them what they think might be spongy like this cake that is in their bones. Yes, the angel food cake is the spongy bone. [Have children repeat spongy bone.] Spongy bone is a network of pores and tunnels interconnected in a pattern that makes the bone strong yet resilient. Ask if anyone has ever shut their hand in a door or car door. Did your hand break? If it didn't break, you can thank your spongy bone.
  • Spread the outside tips of the bread with the red jam. Ask, “What is inside the spongy bone?” It is what you pulled out of the cow bone using your toothpicks. Yes, it is bone marrow. [Have children repeat bone marrow.] There are actually two kinds of marrow : red and yellow. Red bone marrow is the kind in which blood cells are made. When you cut yourself and bleed, your body needs to replace that blood. Your red bone marrow is where your new blood cells come from. You need lots of red blood cells because they do not last very long in your body. Even if you do not cut yourself, your red blood cells die after only about 4 months, so you need your red bone marrow to frequently manufacture new blood cells to replace the ones that die.
  • Spread the bread with the peach/apricot jam in the center of the bread. Ask, “What is the other type of bone marrow? Yes, it is yellow bone marrow. Your yellow bone marrow stores lipids. Who knows what lipids are? Yes, they are fat cells. Lipids are used throughout your body for many important functions. Who can name something that fat does for our bodies? Do you remember that the cell membrane we learned about last week (which was represented by the plastic ziplock bag) is mostly made up of lipids, or fats. If you had no lipids in your diet, you would not have cell membranes. Could you have cells without cell membranes? No! You could not survive without your cells. Thank God He made fat!
  • Lay one strip of the licorice down the middle of the jam. Ask the children what they think this might be. It represents the blood vessels, which continuously carry blood to and from the bones. Ask, “Is this the only place we find blood vessels in our bones?” (No, they are also on the outside.)
  • Sandwich the bread pieces together. Place the sugar wafers along the sides of the bread. Ask, “What type of our bone is hard like this?” Yes, our compact bone is smooth and hard and is made of many layers of calcium-rich minerals woven together with collagen. Compact bone is the second strongest material in our bodies.
  • Wrap the whole thing in the tortilla. Wrap 2 pieces of licorice around the outside of the tortilla. Blood vessels and nerves cover the outside of the bone as well. Who remembers what it is called? Have everyone say, “periosteum.” Yes, bones have feelings too! Do you think it is painful when you break a bone? Yes, it is. The reason why it is painful is because of all those nerves in your periosteum. The blood vessels take nutrients to the bone and take out the trash – the waste made by the bone cells. The periosteum also helps in the building of new bone. Ask, “Who likes building with Lego’s?” Sometimes after you build a rocket ship with Legos, you decide to tear it down and make it into a helicopter. Sometimes your new creation is better and sometimes it isn’t. Your body is doing the same thing with your bones. It is constantly remodeling, or building new bone and destroying old bone. Sometimes this makes them better and stronger, and sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on what you eat and how much exercise and sun you get. That’s why you should ask your moms to go to the park each week! That will help your body get the exercise and sun it needs to make better, stronger bones.
  • Let’s review one more time what each part represents:

Licorice strings are the what? (blood vessels and nerves)
Strawberry jam is the what? (red bone marrow)
Peach jam is the what? (yellow bone marrow)
Angel food cake is the what? (spongy bone)
Sugar wafers are the what? (compact bone)
The tortilla is the what? (periosteum)


*Some of this script is based on what we read in Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series) by Jeannie K. Fulbright.*

Ready for the next lesson?

Edible DNA made during Lesson 1 on Cells and DNA
Edible DNA made during Lesson 1 on Cells and DNA

Create edible DNA models, made models of the insides of bones, dissect deer organs, create a working model of the respiratory system, play immune system freeze tag, and more in this fun 7-8 lesson unit on human anatomy! (An optional lesson on genetics and DNA is included.)

  • Cells and DNA Lesson - This is part 1 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create edible models of human cells and DNA, look at cheek cells under a microscope, and more!
  • Genetics Lesson – This is an optional but very worthwhile lesson for the Human Anatomy Unit Study. Use M&M's to determine genetic traits, extract DNA from a strawberry using normal household materials, create edible DNA strands using marshmallows and licorice, design dog breeds as you select alleles, and more in this fun lesson on Genetics!
  • Skeletal and Muscular Systems Lesson - This is part 2 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create models of bone parts, use stickers to label the bones on your body, dissect soup bones, measure the range of motion of your joints, and more!
  • Nervous System Lesson - This is part 3 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a clay model of the brain, twist together a pipe cleaner neuron, train your reflexes, dissect a deer brain and a cow eyeball (optional), and more!
  • Digestive System Lesson - This is part 4 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Demonstrate how each part of the digestive system works using crackers, pantyhose, create teeth molds, prepare and eat a salad while discussing healthy eating habits, and more!
  • Circulatory System Lesson - This is part 5 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Walk through your circulatory system, create a blood model and fake movie blood, measure your heart rate, dissect a heart, and more!
  • Respiratory System Lesson - This is part 6 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a lung model, measure lung capacity, dissect a lung, play a respiratory relay race, and more!
  • Immune System Lesson - This is part 7 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Play immune system freeze tag, watch how germs spread, observe bacteria under a microscope, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their.
  • Human Body Unit Study Presentations and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity for the 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Children presented game show themed games related to the human body or other creative presentations, and we had a systems-of-the-human-body-themed meal. Recipes are included! Also included are the field trips we attended during this unit.

Looking for all of my unit studies and lessons?

Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

Konos Volume 3
Konos Volume 3

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children!

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

© 2012 iijuan12

Comments, questions, or ideas - Please let me know you dropped by! I love getting feedback from you!!!

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      iijuan12 21 months ago from Florida

      Thank you so much! That is wonderful you will be able to use my lessons with your co-op!

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      annlove06 21 months ago

      I love all of these ideas and plan to use many of them with our homeschool co-op. Thank you!

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      iijuan12 3 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Great! Thank you so much for dropping by!

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Wonderful, I will use this with my daughter she'd enjoy these! thanks so much for sharing.

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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you! The children did definitely enjoy labeling themselves!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      You make learning so much fun and you've done it again here. I would have loved your lessons when I was home schooling my children....well, I would have loved learning about the skeletal and muscular system myself with these great hands on lessons that have students not just hearing but really learning. The idea of labeling yourself just made me smile! :)

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      thank you so much for posting these lesson plans! they are so creative, fun, and "meaty"! i have been so stressed about the science class i am teaching for co-op next quarter and now, after seeing your lesson plans, i am so excited! (okay, still stressed, but much less so!) thanks again!!!

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      sujathayder 5 years ago

      really nice

    • brando87 profile image

      brando87 5 years ago

      brilliant. What a resourceful way of teaching.