Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Fun Way To Teach About The Human Body and Bones

The kids have been interested in the human body for a while now. Over spring break they poured over The Human Body book (the older kids were particularly fascinated by the section on puberty--a topic we did not discuss on this theme day). I knew I wanted to do a theme day and have some materials so they could learn about the body. However, to be perfectly honest, the idea for this activity came to me while watching an episode of Bones on Netflix. 

I had an episode on when the oldest mini walked into the room and his eyes were promptly drawn to the TV (also, at this moment I realized I had no idea where the remote was so I couldn't turn it off easily). He walked in just in time to see them wading through muck, pulling out the body. His eyes widened and he exclaimed "hey! Can we do something like that for daycare???" Actually, what better way to get kids interested than involving messy sensory activities and combining it with a learning acitivity???

My first step was purchasing multiple learning tools/toys for the kids: a skeleton, another disarticulated skeleton (life size), a Melissa and Doug magnetic body (great for the younger crowd), Organ matching, and plenty of body and bones book. I was happy to spend the money on these because I know they'll be well used now and in the future. My next task was deciding on what to use for the muck. I chose Cherry Jello (6 boxes) and chocolate pudding (4 boxes), mixed with water. These two things are easily washed off but fun to dig through (because they smell reeeeaaalllly good).

The night before Bones and Body Day, I separated the large bones (skull, femur, pelvic bones, etc.) from the smaller bones (fingers, toes, etc.); with the larger bones in the red tub and the smaller in the long, clear tub. The morning of, I added the chocolate pudding and Jello to the tubs, followed by the water. I was surprised at the amount of bubbles the hose created in the Jello! I also filled up a little pool to rinse the bones in after they dug them out (and to rinse themselves off in afterwards).

I briefly explained to the kids our overall goal for the day (as I explained it: pull each bone out one at a time, rinse in the soapy water, and later we'll identify the bones) and they instantly dug in! Of course, the identifying the bones later part was lost on them and as they pulled each one out, I got "ooohh, what's this one??" I attempted to identify as many I could, but I definitely had to open up the Anatomy books once or twice while they dug, pulled, and rinsed.

After all of the bones had been recovered, the kids decided to play in the muck. My favorite was when I heard a child exclaim "my patella is in the red stuff! Gross!"

Kids of all ages LOVE this Melissa and Doug Magnetic human body set. I've had this toy out since beginning of May. It was a great introduction to the body and prompted a lot of questions.

These were small parts so this was only for the 3+ crowd, but if they were slightly larger, I feel the younger kids would have loved them just as much. I liked how the older kids could do this activity by themselves (those that can read at least) and quizzed each other. This also sparked curiosity from the older kids, who asked questions such as "what do the kidneys do?" after seeing the organ.

The Human Body Q & A book is a favorite around here, but the Human Body (a borrowed book from a daycare mom who is a nursing student) and the print outs were the most helpful when putting the body back together again.

So, to be completely honest, trying to put the body back together was everyone's least favorite part. Not because it was challenging, they simply enjoyed picking each bone up, examining it thoroughly, and looking to see which bone it was. They did attempt to put the bones in place for a bit, but lost interest in it quicker than I expected.

Our "put together skeleton Gordon" helped the kids identify where the bones are on the body. I was impressed with their ability to identify the bones, despite losing interest in it quickly. I knew the activity had passed when one kid (mine, of course), grabbed one of the arm bones and stuck it through the skull, making everyone laugh with his impression, "help!! I'm eating my own arm! Aaahh, where does it go since I have no stomach because I'm just bones??? Aaahhhh!" And that was the end of Bones and Body Day.

The kids continued to look at and fiddle with the disarticulated skeleton for the rest of the week. I expect we'll do something next summer with it, but I haven't the slightest clue what (yet)!