Studying the human body with K-3rd-grade students is all about having fun, doing cool experiments, and exploring good books. With these lesson plans, all you need to do is purchase a few supplies and books and you are set for a fun 12 weeks of exploration.
You'll spend 12 weeks studying different systems of the body, taking 1-2 days each week to read, work on projects and experiments, or check out cool links online. Your kids will build their own human body, adding in all their 'insides' as they study them. They'll learn all about their brain, heart, circulatory system, muscles, bones, joints, and many other topics. The planning work has been done for you with these lesson plans. Just gather your books, supplies, and lesson plans and you are ready to go!
Here's what you'll need (affiliate links):
Studying the Human Body
We started our 12-week human body study and I figured it would be fun to take a few pictures and document our way through the journey. So here’s our first week:
We began by tracing an outline of TJ’s body onto a large piece of brown paper and taping it to the wall. I accidentally ripped the foot off but a bit of scotch tape and it’s almost as good as new! (And please don’t make fun of my tracing job! I know she looks a little lop-sided!) :)
After that we read a few sections from the Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body (pgs 4-5 and 42-43). I asked TJ to tell me about one thing she learned from our reading. She dictated her sentences to me (with a bit of prompting and reminding to tell me in complete sentences) and I copied down her narration and had her read it back to me.
It was time for an activity to reinforce our reading. I found an idea to make DNA models from liquorice, marshmallows, and toothpicks (you can see the original, more advanced idea here).
I adapted it for a younger child by skipping the colored marshmallows and just talking about the shape of the DNA and it’s job in our bodies.
After we finished our project TJ dictated to me while I filled out a science experiment page. After that I had to start lunch so Nick took over and read The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body to her (while she ate her DNA model). :)
Brain & Nervous System
TJ and I learned about the brain and nervous system this week. It was a lighter science week – we didn’t have any big projects planned but we still had fun.
I read a few pages from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body (pages 6-7) while TJ looked at the pictures. We discussed some of the pictures and she was ready for narration time. After I wrote down her narration she illustrated it with a picture of a face with a brain. Then she added some curly hair and said, “it’s daddy!” :)
One of the things we discussed was how our brain causes our body to react without time for conscious thought. To test this we did a simple experiment - we used a ruler to test our reaction time. We took turns dropping the ruler while the other person had to catch it. (One person holds an end of the ruler while the other person keeps their hand slightly below the other end. The person holding the ruler lets go and the other person tries to catch it.) She thought it was lots of fun and we even got Nick to try it a few times. I filled out an experiment form while TJ dictated to me. (I did find another project but I'm planning to save it for a future project since TJ's still too young to get much from it.)
Then it was time for reading. I read a library book, My Brain, while TJ coloured a picture of a brain for her body poster. (Please disregard the pj’s – we often have pyjama day at our house!) We also looked at the pictures in Seymour Simon’s book, The Brain. The writing is too technical for TJ to understand but the pictures are great.
After she finished colouring her picture I cut it out and she attached it to her body poster. Next week we’ll start learning about two of our senses – hearing and seeing.
Seeing & Hearing
This week we started our first of three weeks learning about the senses. We focused on our senses of hearing and seeing and started by reading a few pages from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body (pgs. 8-11). We decided to try one of the simple activities included in the book. TJ grabbed some crayons and we went in the dark bathroom to see if we could tell what colors they were in the dark. She discovered that it’s very hard to tell colors apart – they are all various shades of grey and black. After that she dictated her narration to me (one thing that she learned about each sense) and she added a picture.
We read a few library books. She read Hearing by Helen Frost and I read The Listening Walk and a few random library books about the senses. I meant to pick up a Braille book from the library but I totally forgot about it.
After our reading TJ was all excited for “experiment time”. We started by making a phone from two leftover Christmas cups and some string. After we finished playing with that I blindfolded TJ and had her use her ears to find a beeping timer. For our last project Nick filled an empty soda bottle with water and added some glitter. He showed TJ how to shake it and watch the glitter spin like the liquid in our ears does when we spin around and make ourselves dizzy. She decided that a good conclusion to the lesson would be spinning until she was dizzy. :)
Taste & Smell
TJ has really been enjoying our human body study and she says that her favorite part is the body poster that she’s making. Sadly we are still focusing on the senses so she hasn’t been adding any new parts to her poster. This week we focused on tasting and smelling. We started by reading a few pages from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body and watching a few experiments on an InquisiKids DVD. She loves that DVD and was excited when I told her we’d be ordering a new one. After she watched a few experiments I had her dictate a narration while I wrote it down, then she added a title and a picture.
After she completed the picture for her narration she did a few simple experiments. I put different flavoring extracts on four cotton balls and had TJ smell them and try to guess what they were. After that I gave her a small amount of confectioners sugar and she touched it to different parts of her tongue to discover where it tasted most sweet. I was planning on using lemon juice and cold coffee too, but she didn’t want to try them. When she finished with that I filled out an experiment page while she dictated and we read a book about tasting. We’ve got one more lesson on the five senses before we get back to the body systems. TJ’s one question - “when do I get to add something new to my poster?”
This was our last week to study the senses. We finished up by learning about our sense of touch. After reading a few pages from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body and completing a narration we did a few simple experiments.
She tested three different round objects to see ifshe could tell them apart by using her elbows (the dog was trying to help). She learned that it was much easier to tell things apart with your hands! :)
After completing an experiment page we read a few pages from the encyclopedia about skin. Using the Usborne Science Activities book, she tried a few simple activities then I helped her make copies of our fingerprints to look at. I wanted to let her get a close look at them but couldn’t find the magnifying glass (it’s so annoying to find that I’m missing something I need!). We finished up our session by looking at a few books about skin and the sense of touch – I can tell by Touching, Your Skin and Mine, and First Facts: Touching.
She’s looking forward to our next science lesson because she gets to add a new piece to her human body poster.
Bones & Joints
Last week TJ learned abut bones and joints. We started by reading a few pages from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body. TJ has started reading the first little ‘blurb’ aloud to me and then I read the captions and other information while we look at the pictures. We finished with a narration and then TJ cut out the bones to add to her body poster.
After she finished adding the bones to the poster I helped her make an arm (from The Usborne Book of Science Activities) and we discussed bones and joints. We filled out an experiment form and then she made a moveable skeleton (from The Giant Science Resource Book) which she’s been carrying around now for a few days. She even took it to church – the boys in her class were suitably impressed - “Cool! A skeleton!” :)
We finished the lesson by reading a few library books – What’s Inside Me? My Bones and Muscles, Dem Bones, and Bones (Seymour Simon book – LOVE these books – the pictures are always amazing).