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Dissecting at a Young Age

Have you ever wonder how to further inspire your child to love animals? I argue, that when young children have the opportunity to do exciting things in science they thrive and become connected to nature.  Perhaps it inspires them to be life-long science learners.

Dissecting organisms is a great way to connect with nature! Why? Because children can see the multiple similarities and differences with other organisms. It also triggers empathy and respect towards other living things because questions about how the organism died often surface. At least, it was the first question that popped up at my house when we started the lesson. In our house, understanding our body is a continuous thread of lessons on our Montessori inspired shelves. So when I offered my girls the opportunity to dissect a crayfish to see how this organism compared to humans, my youngest jumped at the opportunity and my oldest decided to be just an observer.

dissection kit

I told the girls that the goal of the lesson was to identify internal and external structures of the crayfish and compared them with the human body. If you are ready to try this science experiment at home you can order the Young Scientist Crayfish Dissection Kit on Amazon.

The kit comes with all the materials you need for the dissection, so there is not much advanced preparation  that you would need to do. In addition to the kit, I suggest getting books and printing my free worksheets if you are doing the experiment with children with advanced writing skills. You can download them for FREE. {Data Collection Worksheet and Crayfish Dissection Analysis.}

crayfish_worksheetsnapshot

 

Lets’ get to the steps of the lesson. Step 1: Prep your work area. We live in a small house (950 square feet) so we used the dining table. I covered the table with a plastic trash bag that I cut in the middle. Then, I unpacked the kit and set up the tray.

Step 2: The kit that I bought comes with instructions but since my 6 year old was the one most interested in the dissection I went ahead and created a simple visual procedure that she could follow. 

Dissection Analysis.PNG

Step 3: Do the dissection! Take your time and try to identify as many external structures before opening the crayfish. We used the wooden rod to point at things and talked about the function of these external structures. Then, I held the crayfish while my daughter used the scissors to open the crayfish. She said that cutting the crayfish was her favorite part and it attracted my oldest daughter. So I am calling this lesson a success!

Step 4: Clean up. I kept the tools that were part of the kit, I used soap and warm water to clean them. Then I wrapped everything in the table cloth and put it in the trash, cleaned the table with bleach wipes and done. Make sure that you check the laws in your state for disposing dead organisms.

Step 5: Enrich the lesson! We read a few books about crayfish and we played a matching game. Since my daughter is an early reader, I read all the cards to her but allowed her to be the one in charge of matching.  Download for FREE {Matching Game} Enjoy!

Try this lesson at home and let me know how it works out for you. I hope the family has as much fun as we did!

Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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