We spent the past two weeks learning about the human body. Sometimes, I wonder if they are learning and enjoying all these activities, or if I should just back off and let them be lazy bums all summer. However, even though it sometimes feels like a chore to get their attention, they keep asking for more, and when my 3-year-old cracks a joke about someone's epidermis showing, I know this is not all in vain!
We started the week at the library, as usual, this time checking out books to read about each body system.
First we learned that our bodies are made up of cells by coloring cell models on shrinky dink plastic.
Then we shrank our cells, but of course, real cells are even smaller than our shrunken ones.
I am trying to incorporate technology into our lessons, and I found some cool apps that allowed them to explore the human body and "play doctor" too.
We also wrote a "recipe for a body" where we listed all the things that are needed in a body, then we traced and cut out outlines of their bodies to fill in with the various organs as we learned about them.
We started with the circulatory system, reading a book, coloring a diagram, and then playing with a hands-on model of blood cells. Pink (because I bought the wrong ones... they looked red in the package!) water beads were red blood cells, water was plasma, red craft foam pieces were platelets, and white plastic balls were the white blood cells. They even threw some action figures in to simulate an infection, and the white blood cells attacked.
Next, we tried (and failed) to see our pulses with marshmallows and a toothpick. The kids were more interested in eating the marshmallows. You win some, you lose some.
When all our activities were done, we glued construction paper hearts and red and blue yarn "blood vessels" to the big body outlines.
The next day was respiratory system day. After our book and diagram study, we made a model of our lungs. First a simple one: just one lung and the diaphragm.
Then we got more complex with a trachea and two lungs!
We also learned about our vocal cords and the way sound is produced when air vibrates through them, as well as the difference between male and female voices (deeper voice=thicker vocal cords) with rubber bands of different thicknesses stretched over a plastic container.
Then, of course, we can't forget our noses! Air comes in through them. They get respiration going... And they also smell! So we tested a variety of scents from our kitchen that I placed in little jars (vanilla, vinegar, garlic, cherry juice, coffee, cinnamon, almond extract, that sort of thing) and rated them as good or bad.
Then I sent the kids outside to find smelly things in the yard and make their own smelly concoctions. They love playing "potions," and their mixtures of rose petals, rosemary, basil, and whatever else they cut up smelled like a day at the spa!
Then we added lungs and a trachea to the big bodies and called it a day.
Day 3: Digestion! Book, diagram, coloring, followed by a demonstration of the length of their entire digestive tracts, mouth to bottom. 21 feet of crepe paper!
Next came the slightly gross demonstration of digestion. We broke bread, added some water (saliva), smashed it with a potato masher (teeth), then poured it into a bag (stomach), added coke (stomach acid), and slushed it around even more. Finally, we transferred the mixture to a knee high pantyhose, squeezed the liquid out (intestines), and then cut a hole to let the not-so-squishy remnants out (poop). Kinds gross, but definitely effective at showing how digestion happens!
Of course what is food without our sense of taste? We learned about the different "taste zones" on our tongues, and they tried salt, sugar, lemon juice, pepper, and turmeric for salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter taste tests.
I think they enjoyed our second taste test a little more, though. We fed each other Jelly Belly jelly beans and had to guess the flavors.
To end the day, we added esophagus, stomach, liver, and intestines to our "big bodies."
Next came the Nervous system.
We made brain hats and wore them to perform "brain surgery" on a Jello brain.
It was squishy and fun, though truthfully, they didn't get nearly as messy nor spend as much time with it as I expected.
They did, however, enjoy playing "zombies" while tasting the braaaaainz.
Edible models are awesome, and we made a Twizzler/Life Saver model of our spinal cords, some of which the kids ate for dessert after dinner. Fine motor skills, lacing, and anatomy learning.
We also made some neuron art with liquid watercolors and straws. I love blow painting.
Our next system was musculo-skeletal. We started by making a "robot" hand with straws and string to demonstrate how fingers bend (yay tendons!).
We talked about how hard it would be to move if we had bones and no muscles (stiff tortilla chip man fell over and broke!), and how floppy we would be if we had muscles and no bones (floppy tortilla man cannot stand on his own).
Then we shifted our focus onto bones. We learned about the different parts of a bone. They aren't just hard white sticks. There's stuff inside them!
We even explored some real bone marrow, thanks to the meat section of Kroger.
After the kids poked the marrow, I roasted it and let them try it. Ellie didn't want to, but the two little ones LOVED it. The rest of the marrow went into a sauce we ate with our dinner that night.
Then it was time to put our muscles to work. We tried out different weights and exercises to use multiple muscle groups.
I made sure to teach them how to safely use weights to avoid injury.
They really liked testing their strength.
Day 6: Eyes and ears!
After reading a book about eyes and watching a video on how our eyes see color, we made a spectroscope to look at the different colors of light.
We made rainbow paper, which amazed them.
We got silly with eyeball glasses.
Then, we challenged our depth perception. Two eyes are better than one!
Another thing the kids really loved was the concept of optical illusions. We looked at several online, and we made our own fish in the bowl illusion.
After all that, we talked about blindness. How do people who cannot see read? Braille! I found a braille alphabet, made the dots with hot glue, and then I wrote a message for them to try to decipher with their fingers. It is not easy to read Braille!
We then shifted gears to ears (haha, that rhymes). We read a book and learned about how sound travels into our ears, then we tested some vibrations by banging a spoon hanging from strings touching our ears. It was super cool!
Next, we made kazoos (to use our sense of hearing, and because it's fun) with paper, rubber bands, and two large popsicle sticks.
We also talked about deafness and how deaf people communicate... Sign language! I taught Ellie a few signs, and we reviewed the alphabet.
Our last body system was skin! It keeps it all in! First, we put on hand sanitizer and glitter (a different color for each kid), then I instructed them to shake hands, rub their faces, and high five each other to demonstrate the way germs spread and the importance of washing hands.
After washing hands, we read about skin and our sense of touch. We explored different textures and glued them onto a paper hand.
For a snack, we made an edible skin model, with marshmallows for the hypodermis, jello for the dermis, and a fruit roll-up for the epidermis. Plus some Twizzler pull-n-peels poked in as hair.
Then we moved on to fingerprints and their uniqueness. We tried to lift prints with cornstarch, a brush, and packing tape. The easiest way we got it to sorta work was by dusting our fingers and making the prints directly onto the tape.
We used ink to make our prints for comparison.
And Ellie tried to identify the prints.
After our serious forensic business was done, we had some fun making fingerprint art. The Ed Emberly books are super fun for that.
Since our skin holds us all in, we know we need to keep it clean, so we made some bath fizzies.
Unfortunately, they didn't work very well.
We also talked about protecting our skin from the sun, and we tested sunscreen on black construction paper. The bottom had spray sunscreen on it, and the fingerpainted area had cream sunscreen. Clearly, the black paper that wasn't protected faded, and the spray sunscreen did a decent job! I think we laid the cream sunscreen on too thick, because it never fully absorbed before it dried out in the sun.
Once we finished learning about the bodies, we finished up our "big bodies" with skin and hair (I didn't take pictures of the brain, bones, or muscles, but we did put them on earlier in the week.)
Here they are! All finished!
To close everything up (is that a surgery joke?), I took them to the Health Museum. We had never been there before, and it did not disappoint!
There was a giant colon the kids could crawl through!
It was like they were colonoscopies!
So many giant organs!
They used teamwork to make a big wheel spin as they tried to run in it to get their heart rates up.
Several volunteers were there to teach us about different displays. Here, we learned about keeping our arteries healthy and free of clogs.
Learning about the size of microbes.
It's serious work.
Skin tissue puzzle.
I love these little bugs.
It was a great 2 weeks! Very busy and intense, so I'm looking forward to a slower week coming up. I'm glad to be caught up on my summer posts. Sorry about no links to accompany the activities, but you can find the master plan here. As we go along, I do add/subtract activities as needed, but it is pretty close to everything we did.