ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Teaching with Skeletons at Halloween

Updated on September 11, 2014
Learning Resources Skeleton Model
Learning Resources Skeleton Model

This Learning Resources model has 41-Piece plastic pieces to allow students to assemble and learn the bones in the process.

Measures 9 inches tall.

 

Skeletons are Excellent Bone Anatomy Teachers at Halloween

Skeletons make excellent teaching tools for teaching bone anatomy especially at Halloween.

Since my daughters were in Kindergarten and Pre-School I have been going into their classrooms at Halloween to teach their classmates about Bone Anatomy and have some fun in the process.

Not only are the skeletons an effective, interactive way to teach children about skeletal anatomy, but it is also a way for them to be less afraid of skeletons at Halloween.

Over the years I have found many different skeletons to use for different levels of presentations.

In presentations for the fourth through sixth grade class and they were very interested in the skeleton model, but perhaps even more so the stretchy skeletons favors that I gave them to take home.

The original Squidoo lens on this topic Doin' the Bone Dance and Other Creative Ways to Learn Bone Anatomy contains a review of many of the different resources along with ideas and links for lesson plans. It is another good resource to review.

What you will find in this lens are the resources for teaching with various skeletons: floor puzzles, models, wall murals, posters, x-rays, images, magnetic skeletons, stickers and other fun stuff. This year I discovered the Skeleton Wall Mural (Wallies) in time to use them in the classroom. I also found the skeleton molds which will be a good way to reinforce the anatomy lesson with a fun skeleton treat.

There is also an image gallery collection with links to many of the historic skeleton anatomy drawings from Historical Anatomies on the Web and other images that are in the public domain for use. These illustrations are not only fun, but historical ways to have the kids learn about skeleton anatomy.

Image by FeodoraU.

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Learning Resources Skeleton Floor Puzzle
Learning Resources Skeleton Floor Puzzle

This is the skeleton puzzle that got me started teaching basic bone anatomy to preschool aged children.

 

Scary Skeleton Image

Image by Woodleywonderworks
Image by Woodleywonderworks

Scary Halloween House byWoodleywonderworks.

Teaching with Skeleton Floor Puzzles

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Using Skeleton Puzzles to Teach

The Skeleton Floor Puzzle made from giant foamie pieces was the first skeleton that I found, which gave me the idea of going in to teach kids about skeletons.

This floor model worked well with younger children, even pre-school age children, who enjoyed taking turns to put together the skeleton pieces and assemble a skeleton.

What works well with the skeleton puzzle is that once it is assembled the foam puzzle pieces measure about 4 ft tall, which is the size of the first graders, taller than the Pre-Kindergartners. We would hold the skeleton up to everyone to see how they measured up against the skeleton's height - another good way of making the skeleton more fun and less scary.

Skeleton Floor Puzzle available on Amazon

Wooden Skeleton Layer Puzzle on Amazon

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

Hape's wood layer puzzle features five different levels starting with the skeletal system, digestive and respiratory, the muscles, the skin (integumentary) and finally a fully clothed version.

Recommended for ages 3 to 8 years.

 

More Skeleton Puzzles

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

The girl version of the Hape 5 layer puzzle seen in the boy example above.

Recommended for ages 3 to 8 years.

 
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)

This 100 piece Melissa and Doug Skeleton Puzzle is double sided with the skeletal system on one side and the digestive system on the other.

Recommended for ages 8 and up.

 

Skeleton Models

Image by melodi2
Image by melodi2

Skeleton Study by Melodi2.

Teaching with Skeleton Models

Image from Wikimedia
Image from Wikimedia

Using Skeleton Models to Teach

As the girls (and their classmates) have gotten older, we've move from using the Skeleton Puzzles to using more skeleton models.

Fortunately, I discovered that their school had a skeleton (in the physical education closet), so for the past 4 years, in both classes (1st - 6th now) we've been wheeling out "Slim" the skeleton at Halloween for a bone anatomy lesson. (Although once the other teachers found out we were using the skeleton model, they started using him too.)

There are other skeleton models and puzzles available in different sizes that can also be used for teaching.

One year we tried assembling a wooden skeleton, which didn't seem to work so well in learning the anatomy. The wooden skeleton puzzle was pretty challenging to assemble, so the kids were focusing more on the assembly of random pieces rather than learning the names of the bones.

"Slim" has been a much better teaching tool. Budget Buckey below looks to be very similar to their Slim.

Human Skeleton from Wikipedia. Used under a GNU Free Documentation License.

Budget Bucky Skeleton With Stand

Budget Bucky Skeleton With Stand -5 1/2 Feet Tall
Budget Bucky Skeleton With Stand -5 1/2 Feet Tall

This Budget Bucky Skeleton with stand is pretty close to the skeleton model that they have at the Elementary School.

As noted by the manufacturer this model is ideal for teaching the basics of anatomy when intricate textural nuances of the bone are not required.

 

Skeleton Models

Painted and Numbered Big Tim Skeleton Model CMS65
Painted and Numbered Big Tim Skeleton Model CMS65

This skeleton has muscle origins and insertions, so is a very helpful study aid for those studying human anatomy.

Measures 25-1/2 inches tall

 
My First Skeleton (Tiny Tim) 16 1/2" Plastic Model
My First Skeleton (Tiny Tim) 16 1/2" Plastic Model

This Tiny Tim skeleton features just the bones and comes pre-assembled.

A good desk top sized model.

Measures 16 1/2 inches tall

 

Lesson Plans Using Skeletons

Lesson Plans and some fun activities using skeletons. There are more resources compiled in the Doin' the Bone Dance and Other Creative Ways to Learn Bone Anatomy lens.

Teaching with Skeleton Stickers

Wallies Skeleton available on Amazon
Wallies Skeleton available on Amazon

Using Skeleton Murals to Teach

In 2010 I discovered the Wallies Peel and Stick reusable Skeleton (to the right) and gifted one to each of my daughter's teachers.

Not only did these Skeleton Wall Murals work as great teaching tools, but they also were great Halloween decorations. In one class the kids helped to put the vinyl skeleton pieces up on the wall as an interactive, kinesthetic learning experience. They had fun adding in the bats.

The details on the Skeleton Wall Murals are enough for the kids to make out the bones that they need to identify at this stage of their education. The fact that they are reusable makes them a great resource to use year after year for teaching and for decorating. They come in different sections.

The following year I used the Martha Stewart Wall Cling Skeleton (seen in the right side bar). This Skeleton looks to be slightly more realistically drawn, rather than the caricature version with the wall murals. It will go well with the historical anatomy drawings that I used for quizzes.

Wallies Peel and Stick Skeleton available on Amazon.

Skeleton Wall Mural

Wallies Peel and Stick Holiday Mural, Skeleton
Wallies Peel and Stick Holiday Mural, Skeleton

This Skeleton Wall Mural was one that I found and gifted to both of my daughter's classrooms this year.

Measures 68 inches

 

Skeleton Sticker Book

Skeleton stickers are another fun way to teach kids about bones.

Build a Skeleton Sticker Book (Dover Sticker Books)
Build a Skeleton Sticker Book (Dover Sticker Books)

This skeleton sticker book comes with 29 labeled stickers so students can place the correct place on the skeleton.

 

Whimsical Skeleton Anatomy Wall Stickers

More fun skeleton bones that can be used to decorate the classroom walls during Halloween.

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

These whimsical skeleton stickers have 37 reusable wall decals.

They also glow when lights are out.

 

Old Anatomy Drawings - Jost de Negker

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Teaching with Skeletal System Posters

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Using Skeletal Posters to Teach

One of the classic teaching tools is to put posters up int the classroom.

Laminated skeleton anatomy posters make for good visual teaching tools that can be put up on the wall and used by students.

I brought in laminate skeleton anatomy posters last year as a teaching tool. I was able to find posters that were age appropriate for 4th and 2nd graders, a little less detailed than the ones shown here. Teachers of younger students can use the larger colossal poster or look at teaching stores to find other posters appropriate for younger age students.

The posters here may be best used by those doing a more in-depth study of anatomy, something that one can refer to while getting dressed in the morning and reinforce one's knowledge of skeletal anatomy.

Skeletal System posters available on Amazon.

Skeletal System Posters

Skeletal System posters to hang on the walls, so students can look at them (when they are daydreaming) and maybe still learn something.

Colossal Poster of Skeletal System

Colossal Poster The Human Skeleton
Colossal Poster The Human Skeleton

A 5 1/2 feet tall poster of the skeletal system. This colossal poster will help make learning fun for younger children.

 

Skeletal System Prints

Jost de Negker (Anatomical boards of Jan van Calcar, Sheet 4: Skeleton, Front View) Art Poster Prin 13 x 19in
Jost de Negker (Anatomical boards of Jan van Calcar, Sheet 4: Skeleton, Front View) Art Poster Prin 13 x 19in

These old anatomy drawings from Jost de Negker date back to 1485–1544.

A back version (Anatomical boards of Jan van Calcar, Sheet 6: skeleton, back view) is also available.

 

Teaching with Human Skeleton X-Rays

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Using Bone X-Rays to Teach

One of the newer teaching tools that I found was a set of x-rays of the bones that can be used to teach skeleton anatomy and this standing skeleton x-ray.

Next year I will need to develop something to teach 6th graders and I think that the x-rays might be a good resource to use with older children, middle school ages.

The set of 18 X-rays images can be arranged together to create an entire body that is about the height of a child (5 feet) a good height for younger children.

The standing Skeleton X-Ray measures 69 inches or is 5 ft. 9 inches, a good height with older children.

Skeleton X-Rays set available on Amazon

Skeleton 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.

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.

 

3D Skeleton Motion Capture on YouTube

3D motion capture animation study showing a skeleton from different angles participating in different sports from anacardofrito.

Teaching with Skeletal System Images

Image from Wikimedia
Image from Wikimedia

Using Skeletal System Images to Teach

One of the benefits of the Internet is that there are many different places where you can find old copyright expired drawings and illustrations of skeletons that people used to study human anatomy in the past. The images selected here to highlight are ones that are, due to their age, in the public domain.

Several of the skeleton anatomy resources from the historical text books and authors have been included in smaller versions in the galleries and links that follow:

  • Bernhard Albinus: Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
  • Govard Bidloo: Ontleding Des Menschelyken Lichaams.
  • William Cheselden: Osteographia or The anatomy of the bones.
  • Andreas Vesalius: De corporis humani fabrica libri septem.
I have included links tn the images where I found the illustrations in the next module. Click on the taken to the collection of images for downloading.

These illustrations can be adapted to handouts for students to identify the bones. I created a quiz using one of Cheselden's Skeletons (Plate 34)

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.

Anatomy Images by Bernhard Albinus - Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skeleton Illustration Table 2 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humaniSkeleton Illustration Table 3 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humaniSkeleton Illustration Table 4 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humaniSkeleton Illustration Table 1 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 2 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 2 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 3 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 3 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 4 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 4 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 1 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani
Skeleton Illustration Table 1 from Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani

Anatomy Images by Govard Bidloo - Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skeleton Illustration Table 87 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaamsSkeleton Illustration Table 88 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaamsSkull Illustration Table 92 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skeleton Illustration Table 87 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skeleton Illustration Table 87 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skeleton Illustration Table 88 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skeleton Illustration Table 88 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skull Illustration Table 92 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams
Skull Illustration Table 92 from Ontleding des menschlyken lichaams

Anatomy Images by William Cheselden - Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skeleton Illustration Plate 33 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bonesSkeleton Illustration Plate 34 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bonesSkeleton Illustration Plate 35 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 33 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 33 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 34 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 34 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 35 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones
Skeleton Illustration Plate 35 from Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones

Anatomy Images by Andreas Vesalius - De humani corporis fabrica

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 163Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 164Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 165
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 163
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 163
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 164
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 164
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 165
Skeleton Image from De humani corporis fabrica Page 165

Resources for Anatomy Images

The National Library of Medicine with the National Institutes of Health hosts the Historical Anatomy on the Web.

Historical Anatomies on the Web is a digital project designed to give Internet users access to high quality images from important anatomical atlases in the Library's collection.

The links below are just a sampling of some of the online resources.

A Look at a Walking Skeleton on YouTube

A medical animation of walking skeleton from www.medflix.com

Teaching with "Scary" Death Symbols

Skeletons - Scary Death Symbols or an Opportunity to Teach?

I have been teaching children to be less afraid of skeletons at Halloween for many years. In October 2009, I wrote about these experiences in the ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling) Forum in an article entitled "Skeletons in October: Scary Death Symbols or an Opportunity to Teach Bone Anatomy to Young Children?"

The article was featured under the Teaching Thanatology (Death Education) section.

For those who are interested in reading this article a PDF File is available to download at our website, Skeletons in October.

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.

Toy Skeletons

Image by ollinger
Image by ollinger

Skeleton Toy by Ollinger.

Teaching with the Fun Skeleton Stuff

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Using Fun Skeletons and Food to Teach

One of the things that I've done from the beginning is to find fun skull or skeletons that I can give the kids to play with after I am done talking about the skeleton. Over the years I've found stickers, stretchy skeletons (a hit even with 5th grade class), erasers and skeleton cups.

The skeleton "prizes" help to reinforce the lesson and also help to keep them from being fearful about skeletons, since they become just a fun play object.

Next year I may end up baking some healthy skeleton treats with skeleton cupcake molds and pans.

NomNom Cupcake holders available on Amazon.

Skeletons in the Closet Game

Skeletons in the Closet Game
Skeletons in the Closet Game

Skeletons in the Closet is a game that helps players to learn the names of the bones in the skeleton. The game is designed for 2 - 4 players, so could be a good way for parents to help their kids learn bone anatomy while playing a fun game.

Recommended ages 7 - 13 years

 

Nonskulls Cupcake Molds

Fred NOMSKULLS Baking Cups, Set of 4
Fred NOMSKULLS Baking Cups, Set of 4

Make some fun to eat cupcakes with these special skull silicone molds.

 

Stretchy Skeletons on eBay

The stretchy skeletons were some that I used for many years, to the point that the kids remembered and wanted new ones to play with from one year to the next.

The stretchy ones are the best.

How have you used skeletons in the classroom for teaching?

© 2010 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comments on Teaching with Skeletons

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice I appericiate you

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @DIY Mary: It has worked well. This years presentation led to them happily figuring out bone names and gleefully tossing around skeleton toys.

    • DIY Mary profile image

      DIY Mary 4 years ago

      I admire your approach. It seems like a fun way for kids to learn about human anatomy while nipping in the bud whatever fears they might have about skeletons as symbols of death.

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

      OUTFOXprevention1 4 years ago

      Great way to teach and integrate skeletons and Halloween!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Brilliant ideas! Thanks!

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @anonymous: You are welcome.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      keep posting such great lenses thanks for share

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @lucky izan: The Terminator Skeletons are scarier and not anatomically correct, so you couldn't teach the anatomy bones using them.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @ikepius: It does tend to make the lesson a bit more memorable.

    • lucky izan profile image

      lucky izan 4 years ago

      why don't you use robot skeletons from the terminator movies, it will be cool

    • profile image

      ikepius 4 years ago

      Great idea! This way they never will forget.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 4 years ago

      What? No mention of Frank Netter's books? Harrumph! :-)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @Lisa Remmick: I've tried to make it fun as a parent and a teacher.

    • Lisa Remmick profile image

      Lisa Remmick 4 years ago

      Skeletons are cool year round and what a great why to teach about anatomy at the same time. Teaching was never like this for me when I went to school.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @BarbaraCasey: It comes from having a background in medicine, teaching and being a parent.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 4 years ago

      Wow. The teachers were never this creative when I went to school. Great stuff.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @Nancy Hardin: It is too early to know.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Excellent educational lens! Who knows how many children you may have started on a career in medicine by taking the mystery and horror out of our skeletons? This lens is blessed by a SquidAngel, and is also used for my educational quest! Thanks for sharing.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      @Scarlettohairy: Sometimes they didn't think they were so lucky, except when we passed out the cool skeleton toys. I think they are getting better as they are getting older.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is a really good idea. How lucky for your daughters that Mom comes to class and shares her boney knowledge!

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      @LisaDH: It's been a fun way to add in a bit of science and some learning at Halloween.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      What a great idea to teach about skeletons during Halloween. Perfect timing!

    • magictricksdotcom profile image

      magictricksdotcom 5 years ago

      These are great images, well chosen.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 6 years ago

      I did a super fun project with elementary students for their halloween party one year; we built skeletons from ~bones and fasteners to form joints that were color coded. the children loved it!

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      *** Blessed by a SquidAngel *** visiting this neighborhood. Excellent and fun ideas, resources and cool information.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I don't remember skeletons in the classroom growing up. Too bad!