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Human Body Unit

img_1358 What do we want our children to know about the human body?

Understanding big ideas about living things is core in a science curriculum. There are many right ways to do this at home and in the classroom. One of my favorite ways is to dissect different specimens with children. That’s why we offer a week-long dissection class. Check it out here! You can also check our previous blog post on dissecting with young children. In addition to dissecting in our fun Chillax Science class, families can set up many simple activities that help children learn about the human body. 

Scientific Ideas to Master

Using NGSS to Guide Our Instruction

At the elementary school level, there are eight foundational science concepts (related to living things) that children should be able to fully understand and have evidence to argue towards. These concepts are, as stated by NGSS:

  • All animals need food in order to live and grow.
  • Living organisms often (but not always) obtain their food from plants or from other animals.
  • Plants need water and light to live and grow.
  • All organisms have external and internal parts.
  • Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air.
  • Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow.
  • Animals have body parts that capture and convey different kinds of information needed for growth and survival. Animals respond to these inputs with behaviors that help them survive.
  • Plants also respond to some external inputs.

In this blog post we address the concept-based instruction specific to the human body. The suggestions we give are most relevant to young children in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Think of these suggestions as easy, low prep, low cost things that will help you whip a science unit. Ready?

Montessori Inspired Activities
Activity #1: External Structures

A good first activity to start a Human Body unit is for a child to recognize that the human body has external structures that have a specific name and function. 

There are MANY ways in which we can make this explicit. I like the chillax way by creating a real life size model of the child using an extra-large piece of paper and inviting the child to trace another child. Only one child? Invite your child to trace you.

Once the body has been traced, children can start identifying structures that can be added to the tracing. The goal is to bring details to the learning experience. Have them add drawings such as face parts, fingers, toes, etc. Anything your child can think of. Easy right? You can support further with an open chillax discussion about the function of each structure.

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Activity #2: Internal Structures

The second activity in a Human Body unit is for a child to recognize that the human body has internal structures that have a specific name and function. One fun, yet simple activity, is to use small figurines and invite children to match them with a picture.

Get human body miniature figurines and placed them in a basket. The basket helps with order and helps discriminate when the task is accomplished. You can get the figurines here and the wooden tray here.

Then, download and print our FREE Download to help your child learn to match the structures. They’ll love doing this. It hasn’t failed me yet.

Activity #3: Human Body Puzzle

Puzzles are a great activity, regardless of the topic. Use a simple puzzle such as this one to help your child recognize the size of the internal structures. Having a good scale of organs that a child can move around and visually locate is perhaps one of those activities that spark curiosity. In the past, I have made a paper version but is not as “fun”. This material available through Amazon is a better option and worth every penny!

You can also get the Melissa and Doug puzzle but it misses the scale perspective that it’s so important.

Activity #4: Skeletal System

Add another activity to this unit with the skeleton. You can make this activity by simply buying a model and getting some montessori-inspired cards. I use the Montessori inspired skeleton cards from in-print in conjunction with the skeletal model. Invite the child to notice the picture and then identify the bone in the model. That’s it-that simple.

Activity #5: Read, read, and read

You have heard me say this before, read with your child. That’s an activity that we all busy parents can put together with minimal effort and it is a great way to “finish” the chillax science unit. Here are our favorite for the human body.

Try these activities at home and let us how much your child loves them. Make sure to subscribe to Chillax Science so you can be the first to know when we share new ideas.

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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